Cubs

The next Cubs-Red Sox showdown could be over Sveum

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The next Cubs-Red Sox showdown could be over Sveum

MILWAUKEE Dale Sveum believes you should never let the players see how youre feeling inside. He thinks thats a clear sign of weakness for a manager.

Sveum will need a good poker face when he arrives at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Because the Brewers hitting coach was scheduled to meet again with Cubs executives, perhaps as early as Tuesday night, before sitting down on Wednesday with the Red Sox at the meetings for owners and general managers.

So while Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington continue negotiating over compensation Bostons general manager is still optimistic commissioner Bud Selig wont have to arbitrate the next showdown between the Cubs and Red Sox could be over Sveum.

Sveum is viewed as the heavy favorite in Boston, where he worked as the third-base coach on the forever team that ended an 86-year championship drought and made Epstein a legend throughout New England.

The Cubs followed-up again with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, who declined to interview in Boston because it would have created too much distance between his wife and two college-age daughters in Texas.

It sounded like the family still hasnt given a final answer as to whether they could make it work in Chicago.

Its still something that hes weighing. Those considerations havent gone away, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. Its certainly a big factor. I think its a factor for everyone, (but) in this case, it probably weighs a little more heavily.

Hoyer does not see another candidate being added to the mix. Beyond Maddux and Sveum, the Cubs have interviewed bench coaches Sandy Alomar Jr. (Indians) and Pete Mackanin (Phillies) in person and DeMarlo Hale (Red Sox) by phone.

Sources insist that Terry Francona is not a serious candidate, and hasnt been eliminated from consideration publicly out of respect for the two World Series rings he helped Epstein win in Boston. Epstein has been in contact with Francona, who hasnt spoken with Hoyer during this entire process.

The Cubs and Red Sox wont admit it publicly, but they soon may have to pull the trigger.

The right person to be manager for the Red Sox in 2012 is not necessarily the right person to be manager for the Cubs, Cherington said. They are different jobs, different challenges.

Theyre doing what they need to do and were doing what we need to do. The decisions too important to react to what somebody else is doing. (We) got to take our time and get the right person.

Even with that, theres no silver bullet. (You) got to surround that person with the right people.

That supporting cast will be important because the next managers at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park will almost certainly have little-to-no experience managing at the highest level.

The list of guys that have managed and are available is fairly short, Cherington said. Most successful major-league managers are still successful major-league managers. So we wanted to find the right fit. We feel like we have to at least consider taking a chance on someone who hasnt done it (before).

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin promoted Sveum after Ned Yost was fired late in the 2008 season and watched his team clinch the wild card.

Melvin passed over Sveum because he wanted a new face in the dugout and didnt believe thered necessarily be a carryover effect to the next year with an interim manager. The Cubs certainly found that out with Mike Quade.

Sveum also lost out to Ron Roenicke last year, but it speaks to his knowledge and personality that he survived so many regime changes in Milwaukee.

The word out of Boston and Milwaukee is that Sveum isnt particularly polished in front of the cameras, and wont charm the media with stories. But he absolutely commands respect in the clubhouse. It could be his time now.

Every player that plays in the big leagues was a rookie once, Melvin said, and every guy that manages in the big leagues had to get his start somewhere.

Epstein and Hoyer feel like theyre nearing the decision-making phase where they can put their choice in front of the Ricketts family. They probably would have done this with Sveum over the phone, but he was coming to Milwaukee anyway to see the Red Sox, in whats become a great off-the-field rivalry.

Were not focusing on the Red Sox and what theyre doing, Hoyer said. Were trying to make sure we make the right decision for the Cubs.

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

With the Milwaukee Brewers about to kick off the NLCS, many Cubs fans and pundits have taken to comparing them to the 2015 Cubs.

At first glance, it's easy to see why — they're in the playoffs for the first time as something of an underdog and "surprise" team — but that's not the recent Cubs squad we should be comparing the 2018 Brewers to.

This Milwaukee team is a lot more like the 2016 Cubs.

Here's why:

1. They're not a surprise.

Nobody expected the 2015 Cubs to win 97 games and wind up in the NLCS. They were expected to compete very soon, but everything went right in a red-hot August, they rode Jake Arrieta's right arm to the NLDS and then toppled the Cardinals to get to the LCS, where they ran into the brick wall that was Matt Harvey and and the Mets pitching staff.

The 2018 Brewers are not — and should not be — a surprise. Anybody who was caught off guard by this team being so good hasn't been paying much attention. The Brewers were leading the NL Central in 2017 for much of the year before a late-season fade that coincided with the Cubs' late-season surge.

This Milwaukee squad was always supposed to be one of the top teams in the NL in 2018 and they really hit their groove in September to chase down the Cubs. Still, it took a Game 163 to force a changing of the guard atop the division.

2. They greatly improved expectations with a big free-agent OF signing over the winter.

The Cubs had Jason Heyward in between 2015 and '16. The Brewers had Lorenzo Cain.

Cain has provided quite a bit more offense in the first season of his 5-year, $80 million contract but both Cain and Heyward provided leadership in the clubhouse and elite defense in the outfield in the first years with their new teams.

3. The Brewers have the NL MVP.

This one's an easy comparison to make, though Cubs fans will hate it.

Christian Yelich is this season's NL MVP. Sorry, Javy Baez fans. "El Mago" had a great season, but it's impossible to give the award to anybody but Yelich.

Yelich winning the league's most coveted accolade would be another perfect tie-in to the 2016 Cubs, who had Kris Bryant take home NL MVP.

4. They have a dominant LHP out of the bullpen.

Josh Hader has been doing his best Aroldis Chapman impression in 2018 as an absolutely dominant southpaw out of the bullpen. Unlike Chapman, Hader's spent all season with the Brewers, but like Chapman in '16, Hader will be leaned on heavily for multiple innings throughout the rest of the playoffs.

5. They picked up some valuable in-season assets.

The 2016 Cubs dealt for Chapman, but they also traded for reliever Joe Smith and called up Willson Contreras in the middle of the year, who provided a spark for the offense.

The 2018 Brewers have acquired plenty of valuable assets along the way this season from Mike Moustakas to Jonathan Schoop to Erik Kratz (more on him later) to Gio Gonzalez. But one of their most important additions (especially in October) was the promotion of top prospect Corbin Burnes, a flame-throwing right-hander who posted a 2.61 ERA in 30 regular-season games and allowed only 1 hit in 4 shutout innings in the DS.

6. They're on a mission with a chip on their shoulder.

The 2015 Cubs had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder as they attempted to take down the divisional powerhouse that was the St. Louis Cardinals. But again, they were a surprise contender - even within that clubhouse (especially early in 2015). But after falling short in the NLCS, the Cubs retooled over the winter and came back with one goal in mind - to win the World Series.

It was a goal they accomplished. We'll see if the Brewers will be able to do the same, but they certainly came to play in 2018 with a chip on their shoulder and the ultimate goal of winning the final MLB game of the year.

The Brewers didn't lead the division from Day 1 and weren't able to coast into October, but they still wound up with homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

7. They have journeyman catcher who is winning over fans' hearts.

This is a fun one.

The 2016 Cubs had David "Grandpa" Rossy who still elicts deafening cheers whenever he's shown on the giant video board at Wrigley Field. The 2018 Brewers have Kratz, who has become a fan favorite recently and was mic'd up for the final out of the NLDS.

Ross was 39 when he helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series and Chicago was his eighth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey. Kratz is 38 and on his ninth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey.

In fact, Ross and Kratz are so intertwined, they've already been compared to each other by MLB.com.

But the major difference is Kratz has zero postseason playing experience until a week ago. Will he be able to ride off into the sunset with a championship ring on his finger the way Ross did?

We'll have an answer to that over the next few weeks in the final chapter of the Brewers' 2018 season, though Cubs fans surely wouldn't be too happy to see their division rivals celebrating with a World Series parade just 90 minutes north of Wrigley Field.

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

The Cubs just lost one coach with hitting coach Chili Davis getting fired. Another opening on Joe Maddon's coaching staff could also open up.

According to report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed with the Rangers on Thursday.

Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler was the first candidate the club interviewed, but Hyde and Astros bench coach Joe Espada were also interviewed.

The 45-year-old Hyde has been with the Cubs since 2014. He was a bench coach in 2014 under Rick Renteria before moving to first base coach from 2015-17. This past season he moved back to his original role as bench coach.

He played four seasons in the minors for the White Sox.

The Rangers job opened up when Jeff Banister was fired on Sept. 21. Banister won AL Manager of the Year in 2015 and guided the Rangers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, but couldn't get out of the ALDS either year. A 78-84 season in 2017 was followed by an even worse 2018, which led to his firing late this season.