CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs announced Dale Sveum as their new manager on Thursday, hoping the Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach can help turn around the long-suffering franchise.
The Cubs said Sveum would be introduced at a news conference Friday at Wrigley Field.
Sveum replaces Mike Quade, who was fired by Theo Epstein, the team's new president of baseball operations. The Cubs finished 71-91 after a disappointing season that extended their infamous championship drought to 103 seasons.
Sveum has little experience as a manager, other than an interim stint for the Brewers late in 2008 after Ned Yost's firing when he led them to the playoffs. He also served as Boston's third base coach when Epstein was the general manager.
Sveum had competition for the Cubs job. Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. all interviewed face-to-face for the spot. Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale was interviewed over the phone and former Boston manager Terry Francona pulled himself out of contention.
Sveum also interviewed for the Red Sox manager's vacancy and met a second time this week with officials from both the Cubs and Boston.
The Cubs may not be perfect, but they're the right situation, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller writes. While Boston's roster is far more talented, Sveum lives in the off-season in Scottsdale, Ariz., not far from the Cubs' spring training base in Mesa. Boston trains in Florida.
Also, as a rookie manager, because the Cubs are not expected to win in 2012, Sveum will not face the same pressure he would have faced in Boston, Miller notes. He will have time to get his feet under him and break into the job (though Cubs fans who suffered while Mike Quade did the same in 2011 surely will not want to hear that).
Sveum was a switch-hitting shortstop for the Brewers and had a 25-homer season before his career was slowed after an outfield collision.
Sveum will take over a team that finished fifth in the NL Central and is saddled with big contracts belonging to Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs also boast a talented young player in All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro and a management team led by Epstein with a championship pedigree that the new manager knows well.
When he served as Boston's third base coach in 2004 and 2005, Sveum was often criticized for an aggressive approach that led to runners being thrown out at the plate. But he was part of a championship team and is a believer in advanced statistical analysis, which meshes with Chicago's new leadership.
"I do my due diligence and video work and prepare as much as anybody," Sveum said. "As far as the stats, those are what they are, and we can use them to our advantage. It's a big part of the game now. It's helping us win a lot of ballgames, the stats and the matchups. That's just part of the game now, and you use what you can."
Sveum, who played 12 seasons with the Brewers and six other teams, did well in his limited run as Milwaukee's manager. After Ned Yost was fired following a 3-11 slide in September, Sveum led the Brewers to their first playoff appearance in 26 years, winning six of seven down the stretch and capturing the wild card on the final day of the regular season.
Milwaukee then decided to hire a more experienced manager in the offseason and went with Ken Macha, who lasted two seasons. Sveum stayed on as the hitting coach and oversaw one of the best offenses in the National League last season. With Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way, the Brewers hit an NL-high 185 homers and were third with a .261 batting average on their way to the NL Central title.