Cubs fire Dale Sveum

After a few weeks of speculation, the Cubs fired manager Dale Sveum on Monday after two seasons with the North Siders.

After two years and nearly 200 losses, the Dale Sveum era is over at Wrigley Field.

Theo Epstein, the Cubs President of Baseball Operations, said it was a difficult decision to relieve Sveum of his duties and said he handled the past two years with "strength and dignity."

In a prepared statement Epstein said, "In his own authentic and understated way, Dale always put the team first and never complained about the hand he was dealt. He and his staff helped us excel in game planning and defensive positioning, contributed to the emergence of several players, and helped put us in position to make some important trades. I have no doubt that - much like Terry Francona, whom we hired in Boston after his stint with a losing Phillies club - Dale will go on to great success with his next team. We had hoped Dale would grow with our organization to see it through the building phase to a period of sustained excellence; instead, I believe Dale, who felt the weight of losing perhaps more than any of us, will grow because of this experience and find excellence elsewhere."

"Today's decision to pursue a new manager was not made because of wins and losses. Our record is a function of our long-term building plan and the moves we have made - some good, a few we would like back - to further this strategy. Jed and I take full responsibility for that. Today's decision was absolutely not made to provide a scapegoat for our shortcomings or to distract from our biggest issue - a shortage of talent at the major league level. We have been transparent about what we are, and what we are not yet. Today's decision, which was painful for all of us, was made to move us closer to fulfilling our ultimate long-term vision for the Cubs."

Epstein indicated that Sveum was not the right manager to lead the Cubs into the future, especially with all the young prospects coming up from the minors.

"Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level. The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward. In order for us to win with this group - and win consistently - we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level. We must have clear and cohesive communication with our players about the most important parts of the game. And - even while the organization takes a patient, long view - we must somehow establish and maintain a galvanized, winning culture around the major league club."

"I believe 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. We will begin our search immediately - a process which will be completed before the GM meetings in early November and perhaps much sooner. There are no absolute criteria, but we will prioritize managerial or other on-field leadership experience and we will prioritize expertise developing young talent. We have not yet contacted any candidates or asked permission to speak with any candidates, but that process will begin tomorrow morning."

Epstein met with the media on Monday afternoon and said he first notified Sveum of possible problems at the all-star break and had a serious sit-down meeting with the Cubs skipper. Epstein said Sveum knew what the issues were and what had to improve to keep his job.

Epstein told reporters the Cubs would be asking for permission to talk with other teams starting on Tuesday morning and would have a new manager by the time the GM meetings started in November. Yankees manger Joe Girardi is at the top of the rumor mill but his contract with the Yankees doesn't end until Oct. 31.

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