CHICAGO — Theo Epstein is proud of the talent in the Chicago Cubs’ minor-league system. The president of baseball operations thinks Dale Sveum is going to be a successful manager one day.
He just doesn’t think Sveum is the right guy to help all those prospects become successful major-leaguers.
The Cubs fired Sveum on Monday after finishing last in the NL Central for the first time in seven years, ending a two-year run that produced more losses than any other stretch in the team’s cursed history.
“It’s absolutely imperative that we create the best environment possible for young players to come up here, continue to learn, continue to develop and thrive at the big league level and win, ultimately,” Epstein said. “And that’s not an easy thing to do.
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“A big part of the reason why we’re here today is because we took a good hard look at that and we decided that we should try to get it right before they come up.”
Sveum was among Epstein’s first hires after the executive came over from the Boston Red Sox in 2011. He had little experience as a manager when he agreed to take the job, and he knew the Cubs were at the very beginning of a top-to-bottom overhaul that they hoped would transform them into perennial contenders.
He just thought he would get more time to make it work.
“You come in and you get a job like this and you want to see it through and so you’re very disappointed you didn’t get to really get anything started,” Sveum said in a parking lot outside Wrigley Field.
Chicago went 61-101 in Sveum’s first season, and finished 66-96 this year.
Sveum, who had one year left on his contract, said he thought he was fine before Epstein said during Chicago’s trip to Milwaukee in mid-September that the manager was being evaluated.
“That was about when things got started,” Sveum said.
While praising Sveum’s time in Chicago and his growth with the Cubs, Epstein disputed the notion that the manager was blindsided by the move. He said Sveum had been aware of some concern in the front office for some time.
• Terry Collins is coming back confident better days lie ahead.
“Maybe we can finish what we started,” he said.
The New York Mets manager received a two-year contract extension with a club option for 2016, a move the team announced one day after finishing 74-88 for the second consecutive season. Collins’ previous deal was about to expire, but it became increasingly clear down the stretch that he likely would return.
• Ron Gardenhire isn’t going anywhere. The Minnesota Twins announced a two-year contract extension with their veteran skipper that runs through the 2015 season. Gardenhire was in the final year of his contract and his 12 years with the Twins make him the second-longest tenured manager in the big leagues.
Gardenhire has a career record of 998-947 (.513) as a major-league manager, and trails only Tom Kelly on the Twins All-Time win list (1,140).
• State authorities in Florida have launched a criminal investigation into the now-closed clinic at the center of Major League Baseball’s latest performance-enhancing drug scandal, a spokesman for Miami-Dade County’s chief prosecutor said Monday.
“A subpoena was issued for documents and we are looking into several areas of state interest,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Griffith would not go into further specifics but said the state probe into Biogenesis of America and its former chief, Anthony Bosch, differed from a federal grand jury investigation into the clinic. The federal probe involves the sources of drugs the clinic is accused of selling to players, most notably one-time MVP Ryan Braun of Milwaukee and longtime star Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees.