Sveum has front office's 'full support' despite start
GM Hoyer makes trip to Cincinnati to give manager vote of confidence
CINCINNATI -- Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said he and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, share in the team's poor start, and Hoyer made a trip to Cincinnati to give manager Dale Sveum a vote of confidence.
Hoyer said Sveum, now in his second season at the helm, has their "full support," and the 5-13 start is not because of the Cubs manager.
"We're all in this together," Hoyer said Tuesday. "We've struggled; it's been painful to watch because we keep on squandering leads. That's on Theo and that's on me. We have to figure out ways to get better.
"We're not the most talented team in the league right now," Hoyer said. "We're trying to build to get there but as we get there, we can't continue to make the kind of mistakes we've been making. We have to clean it up and get better. Dale has our complete support. That's not what he should be thinking about in the least."
The Cubs rank among the National League leaders in errors and have the worst team batting average with runners in scoring position. The miscues were evident during the Brewers' three-game weekend sweep when the Cubs outhit them, 22-16.
Sveum said they would find other options if players didn't perform.
"The point Dale is trying to make, and I support him 100 percent, is that at some point there has to be accountability," Hoyer said. "If that means benching a guy or reducing his playing time, disciplining him in some ways, at some point, [Sveum] has to be able to pull the strings he has to pull to manage the team successfully and obviously, he has our total support to do that. He's got a great feel for the clubhouse, players respect him, and if he needs to do something to emphasize his point, then he has to do that."
The Cubs have wasted solid pitching. The starters have a combined 3.11 ERA, third best in the National League. But the Cubs have been able to drive in just eight of the 28 baserunners on third with less than two outs. The Major League average is 52 percent. The team isn't doing the little things, such as advancing runners.
"Our starting pitching has been real good, and if you had told me we were going to hit the number of home runs we have and have the kind of starting pitching we have, we should have a much better record," Hoyer said. "We should have a much better record regardless."
Hoyer and Epstein have communicated with Sveum a lot over the last few days, but the general manager felt he needed to meet with the manager and the team face to face.
"If anything, Theo and I feel for him as we go through this," Hoyer said. "We know how hard he's working and we're having a lot of sleepless nights as we go through it, and we know he is as well. We're in this together.
"The front office doesn't watch the games and think things are happening on the field that shouldn't be. We're in this together. We have to figure out how to play smarter baseball, whether that means making personnel changes, whether that means tightening up the players we have here, it goes without saying that we have to do better."
What the Cubs front office is looking for is progress.
"The biggest thing for us, and this is Theo, me and everyone, we have to keep getting better," Hoyer said. "I think we have a better team this year than last year. We haven't played that way yet. We're building toward something."
He said the Reds are a good example of a team that is relying primarily on homegrown talent. That's what the Cubs want to do.
"You want to see progress," Hoyer said. "It's a black and white business -- our report card is in the paper every day, and you have to look at it that way. Wins and losses, that's how we're measured. ... I think that's part of why all of us are frustrated. We have played better than our record so far.
"As Bill Parcells said, 'You are what you are,' and we are 5-13, you can't deny that. Feeling we played better doesn't mean anything. We have to be better at converting these games to wins."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.