A checklist for Sveum: Red Sox vs. Cubs

A checklist for Sveum: Red Sox vs. Cubs
November 15, 2011, 9:04 pm
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MILWAUKEE -- Perhaps we should have seen this coming.<br><br>Last month, while in a lame-duck capacity as Red Sox general manager, Theo Epstein helped Ben Cherington compile a list of potential managerial candidates.<br><br>When Epstein finally left the Red Sox to become president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs and dismissed manager Mike Quade, he began working from a similar list of candidates that he had prepared with Cherington.<br><br>The two organizations each interviewed Pete Mackanin, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Dale Sveum (with Mike Maddux withdrawing from consideration with the Sox, while continuing to pursue the Cubs' position).<br><br>And now, as the teams winnow down their candidates, Sveum finds himself seemingly as a finalist for both organizations.<br><br>That probably shouldn't be a huge surprise. After all, Epstein and Cherington worked together for 10 seasons, the last two with the latter serving as the former's top assistant.<br><br>It's no secret the two share a basic philosophy on the game and the proper way to build an organization. Now, they may find themselves battling over a the same prospective manager.<br><br>For Sveum, it's an enviable position in which to be. Though he has never managed in the big leagues -- other than a 12-game interim stint at the end of 2008 -- and has since twice been passed over as the Milwaukee Brewers have sought a manager, he may soon find himself  with a choice of two of most attractive managerial jobs in the big leagues.<br><br>If Sveum has his choice -- and he well may -- which way will he go?<br><br>A look at some of the determining factors:<br><br><span style="font-weight: bold;">1) GeographyPersonal<span><br>Sveum has lived in the Midwest for much of his professional career, with five of his dozen seasons as a player with Milwaukee and another year with the Chicago White Sox. More recently, he's spent the last six seasons as a Brewers' coach.<br><br>In the offseason, Sveum lives in the Phoenix area. The Cubs' spring-training base is in nearby Mesa, while the Red Sox, of course, train on Florida's Gulf Coast in Fort Myers.<br><br>That's nearly two months out of the long baseball calendar in which Sveum would spend at home.<br><br>During the season, too, the Cubs are guaranteed at least one trip to Phoenix, while the Red Sox would visit Phoenix, on average, just once every six seasons.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">Advantage: <span style="font-weight: bold;">Cubs<span><span><br><br><span style="font-weight: bold;">2) CompetitivenessAbility to Win<span><br><br>The Red Sox, despite their September implosion, clearly offer the better short-term opportunity. They boast a talented roster, with most of their core position players (Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez) in the prime of their careers.<br> <br>The Cubs, by contrast, are currently an aging team with some unproductive players (Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano) drawing salaries well about their present-day worth.<br><br>Chicago's minor-league system, too, is poorly rated and may be one of the half-dozen worst in the big leagues. The Red Sox' system, while lacking in major league-ready talent, is generally thought to be much deeper, especially at the middle- and lower-levels.<br><br>In the long-term, the Cubs may be in a more enviable competitive situation. While the A.L. East boasts the Yankees and their almost limitless resources, the Cubs, it could be argued, are the Yankees of the N.L. Central. When it comes to available revenues, no one in the division can match the Cubs. In fact, with Houston set to move to the A.L. West for 2013, three of the smallest markets in the game -- Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Milwaukee -- reside in the N.L. Central.<br><br>However, since it's safe to say that it will take a minimum of three years for the Cubs to become perennial contenders, that may be too slow a timetable for a prospective manager likely to get a three-year deal.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">Advantage: <span style="font-weight: bold;">Red Sox<span><span><br><br><span style="font-weight: bold;">3) Working Conditions<span><br>Both organizations share a similar approach to the job. Both will emphasize statistical analysis and, it's expected, will provide input from the Baseball Operations department.<br><br>(Even the interview process is remarkably similar between the Cubs and Sox, with both putting Sveum through simulated game exercises to assess his in-game stategy skills).<br><br>Thanks to his last seasons with the Brewers and the unbalanced schedule, Sveum has a far greater working knowledge of the Cubs (and the rest of the N.L. Central), which may make  the transition easier.<br><br>By contrast, Sveum hasn't worked in the A.L. East (or American League overall) since leaving the Red Sox' coaching staff after the 2005 season.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">Advantage: <span style="font-weight: bold;">Cubs<span><span><br style="font-style: italic;"><br><span style="font-weight: bold;">4) Intangibles<span><br>The Red Sox have won two of the last eight world championships and have been to the postseason eight times in the last 17 seasons, winning two pennants and reaching the ALCS four times.<br><br>By stark contrast, the Cubs have qualified for the playoffs just four times in the last 22 years, have gotten past the first round just once since 1990 and haven't won so much as a pennant (i.e., reached the World Series) since World II.<br><br>If Sveum won in Boston, it would, in some circles, be seen as a continuation of the success they've had in the last decade. If he ever won it all on the North Side of Chicago, however, he would be forever revered as the manager who led the beleaguered Cubbies to their first championship in more than a century.<br><br>From an ego standpoint and one's standing in baseball history, that could be mighty intoxicating.<br><br><span style="font-style: italic;">Advantage: <span style="font-weight: bold;">Cubs<span><span>