Cubs, Sveum end losing season

ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was addressing the media for the final time in 2013 after a 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Just as fellow core player Anthony Rizzo walked by, Castro was asked when the Cubs would start winning again. After Sunday, it’s officially 105 years since their last championship.

“Me and this guy right there, we’ll be a good team for sure,” Castro said as he nodded Rizzo’s way. “I think in two years, two or three, I think we’ll compete.”

The Cubs front office has been definitive in not putting a timetable on it but the players might be feeling a little antsy after a 66-96 season. That followed a 101-loss year, but the five-game improvement means nothing in the big picture.

“I want to win and I know the guys in here want to win,” pitcher Jeff Samardzija said after suffering loss No. 96 on Sunday. “That’s the bottom line, winning ball games.”

Before any winning can happen the Cubs are going to decide if Sveum and his coaching staff are the right people for the job moving forward. The front office will let him know on Monday if he’s back for the final year of his contract.

“Like I said before, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Sveum said after the game. “We’ll find out in 12 hours or 15 or whatever it is. It’s upon us.”

Sveum’s steady demeanor is one reason he was hired during an expected, tough, rebuilding project. It’s also the reason you won’t hear a bad thing about him from his employees.

“I love Dale,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said. “I’ve loved him for a long time. ... There’s not one person that can say anything bad about him. He can only be who he is. With what he had he did a good job.”

That’s why he won’t be judged on wins and losses but on more intangible things. Simply put, after two years at the helm, the Cubs will decide if he’s the right man moving forward with a younger core of players coming

“As a player you want consistency,” Samardzija said. “You want to build those relationships and you want that to lean on at certain times when you need that.

“It’s not our call. It’s whatever they want to do and what’s best for the organization.”

Whatever happens, Sveum earned the player’s respect. That’s in front of the media or behind closed doors.

“Everybody has been great,” Rizzo said. “Dale’s been great, the coaches have been great.”