MESA, Ariz. -- Despite a 101-loss season, Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum received rave reviews, but impovement will be expected in his second season.
"I think those people who were paying attention last year were able to see what kind of manager he was," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. "He was very consistent behind the scenes; handled the clubhouse great. There were strategic decisions to be made, and he showed a little bit on what factors (scouting reports and computerized analysis) he will rely on."
Going into the management team's second season together, expectations will be greater.
"This year the roster is a little bit more dynamic in terms of having platoon options and having a deeper bullpen to work with," Epstein said. "We hope he has a better hand to play and you will see the merits of his decision-making."
Despite a more sound foundation, few believe the Cubs are ready to contend for a playoff spot this season. Sveum knew before taking the job that he and his coaching staff would have some tough days in the rebuilding process.
"We told Dale in the early part of the interview our plans for the organization and how we were going to build it up the right way and no quick fixes," Epstein said. "As a result of that we said we were not going to evaluate him heavily on wins and losses in the first year. We did evaluate him, and he did excel in all those areas. I don't think any manager in baseball was going to win the pennant with the club we put on the field last year."
Sveum said he learned a lot in his first season as Cubs manager.
"A lot of things come into play," Sveum said. "When things aren't going well you realize how important the clubhouse is to keep in tact. To watch (everything) and keep people accountable was the biggest thing going into last season. Holding everybody accountable for what they had to do on a daily basis. You learn even when things don't go well. Keeping those things in mind were my goals and my coaching staff's goals. I think we reached those goals in some trying times any way."
With what appears to be better personnel this season, Sveum most likely will be harder on himself and expect more from his team this year.
"The only way to dictate a season is if you get to the playoffs," Sveum said. "The numbers and how many wins are something you try to stay away from. As an organization you try to get to winning 90-plus games every year so you have a chance of making the playoffs. That is our goal as an organization."