I wrote yesterday about how Cubs president Theo Epstein refuses to say that manager Dale Sveum will definitely be back next season despite being under contract. So what does Sveum think of his uncertain job status?
When asked about Epstein’s various quotes leaving things up in the air, Sveum told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
They have to evaluate, just like we have to evaluate our players and make a decision when the season is over on them as well. It’s the same thing. It’s the way the game is. … I’ve been happy with the way we’ve done things. Obviously some things haven’t gone too well, and some things have gone really well. I’m happy with my coaching staff, but that’s up to them. They’re the bosses and they make those decisions and evaluate.
I don’t have any hard-and-fast numbers to back this up, but generally speaking if the front office won’t say that a manager will definitely return the next season his odds of returning are pretty low. For whatever it’s worth first baseman Anthony Rizzo praised Sveum yesterday, saying: “I think Dale has done a really good job this year, especially with Starlin and me. We didn’t live up to what we’re supposed to do. That’s the game of baseball.”
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉