The Chicago Cubs have hired Dale Sveum as their new manager, hoping the Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach can help turn around the long-suffering franchise.
The Cubs said Sveum would be introduced at a news conference today at Wrigley Field.
Sveum replaces Mike Quade, who was fired by Theo Epstein, the team’s new president of baseball operations. The Cubs finished 71-91 after a disappointing season that extended their infamous championship drought to 103 seasons.
Sveum, who turns 48 next Wednesday, has little experience as a manager, other than an interim stint for the Brewers late in 2008 after Ned Yost was fired.
Sveum had competition for the Cubs job. Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. all interviewed face-to-face for the spot. Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale was interviewed over the phone and former Boston manager Terry Francona pulled himself out of contention.
Sveum also interviewed for the Red Sox manager’s vacancy and met a second time this week with officials from both the Cubs and Boston.
Sveum did well in his limited run as Milwaukee’s manager. After Yost was fired following a 3-11 slide in September, Sveum led the Brewers to their first playoff appearance in 26 years, winning six of seven down the stretch and capturing the wild card on the final day of the regular season.
Milwaukee then decided to hire a more experienced manager in the off-season and went with Ken Macha, who lasted two seasons. Sveum stayed on as the hitting coach and oversaw one of the best offenses in the NL last season.
CHANGES COMING: The sport will be making major changes in the next two years: adding two teams to the playoffs, moving the Houston Astros to the American League and extending interleague play to September.
The expanded playoffs could come as early as next year. That will put 10 teams in the postseason, requiring a new wild-card playoff round that probably will be one game, winner take all.
The altered playoff structure is subject to an agreement on a new labor contract with the players’ association, which is expected before the current deal expires Dec. 11.
As a condition for approving the sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane, the Astros agreed to shift from the NL Central to the AL West as soon as 2013, giving each league 15 teams.
RED SOX: Boston has reached out to former big league manager Bobby Valentine, a source close to Valentine told ESPN.com, and the two sides will meet to discuss the team’s managerial vacancy before the end of the week.