Cubs

Cubs think Dale Sveum can take the heat

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Cubs think Dale Sveum can take the heat

Dale Sveum hasnt heard from Prince Fielder and doesnt know where the free-agent slugger is going to get his megadeal. Their friendship wasnt going to matter much anyway. The Cubs are going in a completely different direction.

Goodbye Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, who combined for 54 homers and 173 RBI last season. A Google search for Matt Garza and trade rumors yields about 163,000 results.

Sveum wont be able to call on Sean Marshall out of the bullpen, but at least he wont have to separate Carlos Zambrano from teammates and spin the story afterward.

A new front office has traded away Tyler Colvin and Andrew Cashner and no-commented on Starlin Castros legal situation. Those were the faces of the future plastered all over last years Cubs Convention.

Theo Epstein could have hired a bigger name, someone with more experience. But the president of baseball operations wanted to find the next Terry Francona to front this rebuilding project.

You can already see the message (in) the additions and the subtractions, Sveum said. Were here for the long haul and were going to make this thing right, where were competing every single year (as) a team thats winning 90-plus games every year.

The Cubs have lost 178 games across the past two seasons, which explains why theyre on their third manager in the past 17 months.

Their convention opens on Friday at the Hilton Chicago, where Sveum will get a taste of what life is like inside the Wrigley Field interview roomdungeon. The fans will vent about Alfonso Soriano. There will be endless questions about the lineup and changing the culture.

People around the Milwaukee Brewers wondered why Sveum didnt keep the job after clinching the wild card during a 12-game interim assignment in 2008, and why he was passed over again when manager Ken Macha was fired two years later.

That didnt matter to Epstein, who expects Sveum to grow into the job. This is someone who figured out how to last 12 seasons in the big leagues after a freak leg injury nearly derailed his playing career. In a sense, it was all preparation.

When the New York Yankees released Sveum late in the 1998 season, he decided to stick around as a bullpen catcher for the World Series run. Their manager at the time saw qualities that could make a future manager.

I always look at when teammates sort of rally around somebody, Joe Torre said. Thats always a good sign, because that means they sense an honesty and an ability to bond and communicate. (With) his baseball knowledge, nothing was ever too much.

Sveum found a way to operate within the superstar culture of the Boston Red Sox as a third-base coach on the 2004 forever team that reversed the curse. In the clubhouse he gained a reputation as someone who could stand up to players and tell them what they might not want to hear.

Sveum impressed Epstein and future Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer with all the hours he put into video work and detailed spray charts. Boston fans and media noticed Sveum for the wrong reasons, the guy who kept waving runners in and would stand there to answer for his over-aggressive mistakes.

He was always accountable for making a decision that didnt work out, Hoyer said. He owned it and thats a big part of this job. Im sure hes going to have some press conferences with you guys after the game: Why did you bring this guy in?

Hes going to make mistakes and you guys will call him on it and he has to own up to it.

Sveum, 48, knows who he is. He rides motorcycles and has tattoos all over his body. He didnt even bother to pack a sport coat when he traveled to Milwaukee to interview with the Cubs and Red Sox during the ownergeneral manager meetings last November.

The expectations are low now, but all this patience could vanish with the first three-game losing streak. Sveum believes hes ready to take the heat.

The opportunity to win when youre in these big markets, Sveum said, magnifies everything and creates an atmosphere every single night that sometimes you dont get in other cities. When you manage in these cities when the spotlights on the team and yourself all the time, it makes it a lot more enticing to have one of these jobs.

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

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USA TODAY

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

"Of course," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the middle of the National League Championship Series — he would like his coaches back in 2018. Pitching coach Chris Bosio told the team's flagship radio station this week that the staff expected to return next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't go that far during Friday afternoon's end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field, but he did say: "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back."

That's Cub: USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale first reported Saturday morning that Bosio had been fired, a source confirming the team declined a club contract option for next year and made a major influence on the Wrigleyville rebuild a free agent. Epstein and Bosio did not immediately respond to text messages and the club has not officially outlined the shape of the 2018 coaching staff.

Those exit meetings on Friday at Wrigley Field are just the beginning of an offseason that could lead to sweeping changes, with the Cubs looking to replace 40 percent of their rotation, identify an established closer (whether or not that's Wade Davis), find another leadoff option and maybe break up their World Series core of hitters to acquire pitching. 

The obvious candidate to replace Bosio is Jim Hickey, Maddon's longtime pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays who has Chicago roots and recently parted ways with the small-market franchise that stayed competitive by consistently developing young arms like David Price and Chris Archer.

Of course, Maddon denied that speculation during an NLCS where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game and the manager's bullpen decisions kept getting second-guessed.

Bosio has a big personality and strong opinions that rocked the boat at times, but he brought instant credibility as an accomplished big-league pitcher who helped implement the team's sophisticated game-planning system.

Originally a Dale Sveum hire for the 2012 season/Epstein regime Year 1 where the Cubs lost 101 games, Bosio helped coach up and market short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. 

Those win-later trades combined with Bosio's expertise led to a 2016 major-league ERA leader (Kyle Hendricks) and a 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta) plus setup guys Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell.

Bosio helped set the foundation for the group that won last year's World Series and has made three consecutive trips to the NLCS. But as the Cubs are going to find out this winter, there is a shelf life to everything, even for those who made their mark during a golden age of baseball on the North Side.

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

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USA TODAY

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

In Theo Epstein's end of season press conference on Friday he said that any coach Joe Maddon wants back will return in 2018.

Evidently, there's one coach Maddon didn't want back.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have fired longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Bosio served as the Cubs pitching coach from 2012-17. He was the team's pitching coach under former managers' Dale Sveum (2012-13) and Rick Renteria (2014), and was retained when Maddon was hired as manager of the Cubs in 2015.

Bosio, who is one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball, was instrumental in the career resurgence of Jake Arrieta who captured the Cy Young award in 2015, and the development of 27-year-old starter Kyle Hendricks (MLB's ERA leader in 2016).

One reason that could've led to Bosio's firing was the pitching staff's control issues during both the regular season and postseason, which Epstein mentioned during Friday's press conference. The Cubs issued the fifth-most walks (554) in the National League during the regular season and the highest total (53) during the postseason.

As the Cubs hit the market for a new pitching coach, Nightengale mentioned that one name that could be on the radar is former Tampa Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who parted ways with the organization following the 2017 season.

Hickey served as Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa Bay from 2006-2014.