MILWAUKEE – Less than two weeks are left in the Cubs’ season, but team president Theo Epstein is unwilling to say yet whether manager Dale Sveum will return next year for the final year of his contract.
“That’s just something that gets addressed after the season,” Epstein said Tuesday, about 20 hours after Sveum and $52 million pitcher Edwin Jackson were caught on camera in a heated dugout altercation.
“No alarm bells to ring,” Epstein said. “That’s a subject that gets addressed as a matter of process, as a matter of routine, after the season, after a period of evaluation, which we’re in the midst of right now.”
The subject has gained traction on the local airwaves and Twitterverse as the Cubs close on what’s fast approaching the worst two-year stretch in franchise history for losses, during a season in which several young hitters have taken steps back in their offensive development.
Critics also have picked at game decisions, including bullpen and bench moves, with a roster that has been severely flawed and unstable since Sveum took over last season.
“I’ll say that Dale’s been given a difficult hand to play at times by us,” Epstein said. “I think there’s certain categories in which it’s hard to evaluate hm.”
Epstein, in Milwaukee with other front office officials for long-scheduled end-of-the-year meetings with Sveum and the coaching staff, praised Sveum for his ability to maintain effort from the players and an incident-free environment during two otherwise ugly seasons – using the Jackson incident as an example.
“That really is the first incident in two very difficult seasons, which I think is a feather in Dale’s cap. “Obviously not everything’s gone the way we wanted the last two years, but as far as like incidents and tempers flaring and conflicts, there really hasn’t been that many. Teams sometimes take on the personality of their manager, and Dale being so even-keeled and calm has rubbed off on the atmosphere.
“Considering it’s a big market, and that there’s been some brushfires in the past here, I think you have to give Dale a lot of credit for that.”