11/07/11 9:54 PM EST
Sveum makes his case to be Cubs manager
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Sveum interviewed on Monday with Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, plus general manager Jed Hoyer and others to discuss the managerial vacancy. The Brewers hitting coach was the second person to interview for the Cubs' job, following Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who talked to Epstein & Co. on Friday.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, who withdrew from consideration for the Red Sox job, will meet with the Cubs' front office on Wednesday.
Sveum and Maddux were coaches together in Milwaukee, and Sveum was unaware of Maddux's decision regarding the Red Sox until he was asked about it Monday.
"He's a lot like me as far as due diligent work that he does every day," Sveum said of Maddux. "He's one of the hardest working coaches, if not the hardest working coach, in baseball, and that's why he's put himself in this position to get one of these jobs.
"It's just nice to be mentioned with a Mike Maddux, because he's a good friend of mine and he'll make a good manager someday, if not this year," Sveum said.
Sveum, who turns 48 on Nov. 23, talked to the Red Sox last Wednesday about their managerial opening. He was Boston's third-base coach in 2004-05.
His only managerial experience came in September 2008. Ned Yost was dismissed as the Brewers manager after a rough 3-11 start to the month, and Sveum took over on Sept. 16 with 12 games remaining. Milwaukee rallied to clinch the National League Wild Card spot but lost in four games to the eventual World Series champion Phillies in the NL Division Series.
"It definitely whet the appetite a little bit," Sveum said. "I think we all want to do things, but until you get thrown in the fire, you don't know if it's the right thing for you, even if it's something you want to do.
"Once I got to manage that year, those 12 games and the four games in the playoffs, it was somewhere where I felt right at home and very comfortable doing," he said.
However, Milwaukee passed over Sveum twice in naming its next two managers.
"I was disappointed, I would've liked to have gotten the job," Sveum said of the Brewers. "I didn't dwell on it. I understand the decisions people make. I was as professional as I could be about it and moved on. It was disappointing. I'm not going to sit here and say I wasn't disappointed. There's no doubt about it that I wanted that job and felt it was the right time.
"I moved on," he said. "I knew it would happen someday that I would get an opportunity. I never lost hope for no means."
The stoic Sveum said fans won't see him get too emotional -- unless he's arguing with umpires.
"I think one trait you have to have as a manager is never let [the players] see one way or the other how you're feeling, whether you're nervous or mad or whatever," he said. "I think it's a bad trait to show body language to the players nowadays."
A first-round pick in 1982 by the Brewers, Sveum played 12 seasons in the big leagues, including five with Milwaukee. One of the bright spots of his career came Easter Sunday, April 19, 1987, when he hit a walk-off homer at County Stadium to lift the Brewers to a 6-4 victory over the Rangers for their 12th straight win. He finished with 25 homers that season.
But in 1988, he broke his leg in a horrific collision with outfielder Darryl Hamilton, and was never the same player.
The Cubs are coming off a fifth-place finish in the NL Central but Sveum said he didn't see 2012 as a rebuilding year.
"When you're dealing with the Cubs or any major market [team], you're expected to win that year," Sveum said. "You're not expecting to be rebuilding or doing anything other than thinking about winning the World Series. That's anybody's goal. It's obviously very important to the city of Chicago and the Chicago Cubs and Theo Epstein to not just compete and play .500 baseball."
He's picked up a lot from the different managers he's worked with.
"There's one thing I've done in this game over all the years, is pay attention," Sveum said. "I've gotten to learn this game from a lot of people and a lot of good managers. I think I bring a lot to the table as far as my personality and the way I treat people and the way I handle players."
Sveum does know the Cubs well, having faced them at least 16 times a year with the Brewers for the last six seasons. Can he figure out why they haven't won a World Series since 1908?
"The million dollar question," Sveum said. "Being a baseball player and a coach for all these years, you always bring the Cubs up and why, and it's almost a fluke that somebody with this kind of firepower hasn't won the World Series before.
"To sit here and say what would I do differently would be unfair to everybody else who has ever played here or managed or coached here," he said. "A lot of times, there is no formula. Sometimes it takes a lot of luck or the ball bouncing this way or the ball bouncing that way to win the World Series."
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.