Firing Dale Sveum is Theo Epstein admitting he made a mistake, but not firing Sveum when the future was dying would’ve been a bigger error.
Epstein recently offered a checklist by which Sveum would be evaluated -- stuff such as developing young talent, running a game, using the 25-man roster, creating an environment of accountability and preparation, and blah, blah blah.
Epstein could’ve stopped at developing young talent. Whoever Epstein picks next – whether it’s the popular choice of Joe Girardi or maybe Mike Maddux, who was favored over Sveum two seasons ago but wasn’t ready to make the move -- the No. 1 priority has to be developing young talent.
In his statement after Sveum’s dismissal, Epstein said he believes “a dynamic new voice -- and the energy, creativity and freshness that comes with this type of change -- provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek.’’
I hope that’s code for turning young talent into formidable major leaguers. That’s the future, if the Cubs have one. Developing talent at the major-league level is a sign that Epstein knows what he’s doing, even though he’s never done this before.
The Cubs have stockpiled talent in many aggressive and creative ways. Those players will need further development at the major league level. If past is prologue, it didn’t look like it would happen under Sveum and his coaching staff because it didn’t happen the last two seasons.
Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney are the first four you look at, and you didn’t want to look at them by the end of the season. So, there would be reason to wonder whether the likes of Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Javier Baez would reach championship potential in Wrigley.