Winter Meetings interview with Dale Sveum

Winter Meetings interview with Dale Sveum

Q. What's it been like being around all your new managerial peers and just picking their brains or doing whatever?
DALE SVEUM: Well, I haven't had that much time. I'll probably do a little more of that the next couple of days. We've been locked down in a room the last day or two getting some things straightened out with the coaching staff and all that, so getting some things arranged. So really haven't been around mingling a whole lot, so I can't really speak on that right now.

Q. When you hear the rumors about big time players, including Prince and Albert, what are your thoughts when you hear that out there?
DALE SVEUM: Well, I mean, that's all you do is hear it, you know. It's not a reality until anything is a reality. At Spring Training is when you like to think more about that. But obviously it's nice to be in an organization that mentions their names. They're two great players. Some of them are going off the market now. It's always nice to be able to put yourself in the mix to be able to get somebody like that. But it's not reality until they're in your locker room at Hohokam.

Q. Coming into a team like this and division like this, to think that Pujols could be out of the division as you come in?
DALE SVEUM: That would be nice if we don't have him, no doubt about it. I had to witness it over the last six years what he can do. And it's pretty impressive. He's definitely the best hitter in baseball right now. What he did in the playoffs and all that stuff speaks for itself. So it's -- if he's not with us, you hope that he's in another division, no doubt about it.

Q. Have you come close to finalizing your coaching staff?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah, we're pretty much done now. We've just got one last thing, our first-base coach. Everything else is pretty much done.

Q. How long do you think that will take?
DALE SVEUM: Hopefully in about 24 hours. But I think I said that about a week ago, too, and it didn't happen. Yeah, it's pretty much done. We'll probably announce it in a few days.

Q. Obviously you've been around Prince for the last half a dozen years. Can you tell us more about him as a person on top of him being the player?
DALE SVEUM: Like I said in my original press conference, he's just one of those special guys that comes around once in a while, once in a lifetime. The way he plays the game. He should have played the games in the 1950s and '60s and '70s when guys played every day. They played as hard as they possibly could every single day. They cared about winning. They cared about their teammates. And Prince is all those things. He's just one of them special guys, who like I said come around once in a lifetime.

Q. You think your relationship with him is going to factor into this process at all?
DALE SVEUM: I don't know what process you're talking about exactly. You know there's rumors out there and all that, but I don't think that we've even started any talks or anything like that. But I think if it ever got that far, you know, I think there would be the process. But we're not in any kind of process talking to him or anything like that yet.

Q. Has this kind of been an eye opener, as a player obviously you didn't attend the Winter Meetings, but for you to be here?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah, this is my first Winter Meetings, even though I've been coaching for a while, but I never came to a meeting. It is eye opening, last night in that lobby to see that many people standing around and gathering information. And seeing people.

It's like, wow, it's good to see a lot of people that you don't get to see all the time. And especially you see some of the Brewers people that you haven't seen and to get to talk to them. I got to see Ron Roenicke last night and talk to him a little bit. It is eye opening to see -- it's just a big baseball carnival.

Q. Assuming you guys make some moves before these Winter Meetings are over with, are you looking forward to seeing exactly what you have to go to war with?
DALE SVEUM: Well, yeah. Unfortunately sometimes that doesn't come full circle until Spring Training. So you have a lot of different options out there to do this, to do that, to get better here, to get better there. And it doesn't come full force until sometime before Spring Training, whether it's signing big boys or a big trade or whatever it might be.

A lot of times it just doesn't come until the beginning of Spring Training and sometimes even the end of Spring Training, because there's a lot of other needs people need and injuries and all that. So a lot of times you don't even know what you got until sometimes Opening Day.

Q. Do you look at [David] DeJesus as a potential leadoff hitter for you guys?
DALE SVEUM: We haven't gotten that far yet. But as things work out, if you want to call him, you know, the prototypical leadoff guy, he could be right now the way our roster stands. But that's something we'll look at further down the line. He might be our fourth hitter, who knows?

Q. Have you reached out to any of your players yet to talk to them?
DALE SVEUM: I've talked to a few. I've talked to Castro and Samardzija, Dempster, the rest will be coming here probably starting this week before Christmas to talk to all the players before Christmas.

Q. Have you talked to Samardzija as far as a possible starting role?
DALE SVEUM: No, we didn't talk about anything like that. Just getting to know the guys more than putting them in any kind of roles. We haven't gotten that far.

Q. You're not at a point you're jotting down lineups or anything?
DALE SVEUM: Sure you are. But a lot of it, like we were just talking, it's a little bit irrelevant. A lot of times you can spend a lot of time on things, and the next thing you've got a completely different roster, and you just wasted four hours of your day doing something. There will be plenty of time andthe grinding will start soon, but there's plenty of time to do that stuff.

Q. Your owner or chairman, Tom Ricketts came out last week and said he feels this is a team that's going to compete and win this year. Is that always the expectations? Do you have to temper it a little by not knowing who you're going to have there?
DALE SVEUM: I think it all starts with pitching. And we definitely have the pitching to go out there and compete, like we just talked about, about the roster. That can be changed. And you need to manufacture runs, if we don't have the power. If we do have the power, then you can do other things.

But competing and winning all comes down to your pitching. And if you have Zambrano and Garza and Dempster and fill in with the other two guys and have a bullpen like we do, you have a chance of winning. You put some runs up on the board and you get hot.

Q. How many former Brewers guys have you heard from since getting the job, and what kind of messages have they given to you?
DALE SVEUM: Heard from just about all of them one way or form, talking to them or text message or emails or whatever. Most of them are in my fantasy league football, so I get to talk to them quite a bit anyway.

It's the typical, you know, anybody but the Cubs, but we're happy for you, type of stuff like that coming from them. All good stuff. Like I said. I had some really good relationships with most of those guys over there, if not all of them. It's one of those things. But we'll see them soon enough in Spring Training.

Q. Robin [Ventura] was just here. He hadn't managed before. You having managed before, for the Brewers, is that really make a difference, a comfort level going into Spring Training?
DALE SVEUM: Well, yeah, it helps a little bit. More than anything, you know, for myself, I think managing in the minor leagues is more of the help that those 16 games I managed in the big leagues. The three years that I managed every single day in Double A when you had to manage a National League game from third base, and you're a coach at third base. That prepares you quite a bit for a lot of things.

Those 16 games I managed in '08 probably helped me as far as understanding that I was very comfortable in that seat, knowing that a lot of us, like I said at my press conference, that a lot of us want to do things, but we never know if we're going to be comfortable when it happens. And I was very comfortable when I was on that hot seat for 12 days.

So it was fun. It was more fun than agonizing, like a lot of people thought it was. But I had a blast for 16 games.

Q. In that same vein, is there any element of your game you're going to want to work on in Spring Training. Rookie managers all work on things. What will you be working on as a manager?
DALE SVEUM: I don't think rookie managers, 30-year veteran manager, you know, we all want the same things in Spring Training. You want to work on defense fundamentals. Sometimes you talk it up, but you have to get it done also.

But baserunning will be a big key in Spring Training. I think baserunning sets the tone for all kinds of things. When players get involved in baserunning, they'll get involved in everything. All good base running teams are usually pretty good baseball teams.

Q. More away from the X's and O's, just the job, itself, is there anything you're not sure how it works and you're looking forward to figuring out or you think you've got it figured out?
DALE SVEUM: I think I've gone to enough spring trainings to understand how they all work and the organization involved and the process that we all go through, and the tireless hours of preparation we put in for Spring Training. But I don't think I'll be caught off guard.

I've done it enough times and been a bench coach. I've put Spring Training together. I've done just about everything to prepare for all this. I don't think anything will be caught off guard.

Q. What was it about Bosio that made you like to go after him for your pitching coach?
DALE SVEUM: Well, I mean, I saw Bosio work in 2010, was it, or 2009. So I know how he works. I know his due diligence that he puts in. He's a baseball rat and he's got a lot of passion for being a pitching coach. He's always been a good friend of mine. He was actually the first guy I saw in professional baseball when I got to rookie ball. We played football against each other in high school.

But it mainly is the way he can communicate with Major League players, get his point across. If you know Bosio you know that he doesn't take know for an answer. He's very pretty stout in the things he talks about and doesn't back down from anything.

Q. How much are you being consulted on by Theo and Jed and any discussions in regard to any possible moves here?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah, we're in constant contact about all the conversations going on. Everybody has to be involved in all the decision making, as well as the scouts, because we're still learning a lot of our players and trying to watch as much video and get all that stuff.

So it's very communicative to be talking to each other all the time, whether it's text messaging or what, because we're not sitting there in the room the whole time together.

Q. Are there any expectations in place on Brett Jackson's arrival with the Big League club?
DALE SVEUM: You know, those are things we haven't really discussed yet. Obviously these are good, young players that are coming. And obviously when they're going to fit in, those are the million dollar questions sometimes. But, yeah, there's always anticipation for really good, young players coming to the big leagues. You're always anticipating that and to get to see them in Spring Training is always fun to watch these young kids play.

Q. When you've sat down and thought about your lineups, how many different positions have you had Castro in so far, all top five or where does he fall?
DALE SVEUM: He isn't in the bottom four (laughter.) Like I said, if you sit there and beat a lineup to death right now, to me you're wasting time. This whole roster could change in a week. Are but obviously he's a great hitter, so he's going to be in the top five somewhere. He's probably not going to be fourth.

But wherever that slot lands, I don't know if it's going to matter with him, just talking to him and understanding the kind of guy he is, I think he could hit lead off, he could hit 5th, 3rd, 4th, and he's still going to be the same guy.

Q. There is a lot of speculation on Yu Darvish, Japanese pitcher. Is that a big talk around you?
DALE SVEUM: Hasn't been much talk of him at all in our camp. I can't really comment on that, except I haven't heard his name besides you bringing it up and watching SportsCenter.

Q. Would you like to get a chance to talk to Zambrano soon, or is that on your agenda?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah, like I said I'll be reaching out to mostly all the players here starting Friday when I get home. Probably pretty much talk to all the players before Christmas or have called them. Probably be playing phone tag with a lot of them. But I want to talk to everybody before Christmas.

Q. Any message you want to give to him?
DALE SVEUM: No, I just want to talk to him and get to know him a little bit more than anything. There's no message. I don't think there's a message you send a guy. He knows his track record, and it's not something I have to mention to him. He knows what he's done in the past and knows he's got to change that past.

And like I said before, if you put those three guys at the starting top of your rotation, you've got a chance of winning with the bullpen we have. So that's what you've got to get him to understand about winning and coming out of the gates quick.

Q. If it comes to jump in on Prince, what role do you think you would have on that?
DALE SVEUM: If it ever happened, I'd probably have a big phone bill to Florida. You've got to think if it all came about, we're very close. You'd have to find yourself in a pretty decent role of that. He's an impact player that impacts the whole team.

Q. How do you feel about the rotation right now, is there any need for a left-hand pitcher?
DALE SVEUM: You're always in need of good pitching, whether it's left handed or right handed, especially in Wrigley. It's not that kind of field where you say, like Pittsburgh or something where it's a big left field, where you're saying we could use a little more left-handed pitching instead of right-handed pitching, to suit the ballpark. Wrigley's dimensions are the same so it's not you need one or the other. The right handed hitters in the division are a heck of a lot more overwhelming than the left handers, besides you try to build sometimes your rotation around the division, itself, or the ballpark you play in.

Q. Do you have any philosophy about bullpen guys who have been successful, big 95-plus arms moving into a rotation? Is there a rule of thumb that you've noticed over the years that you'd like to adhere to with guys like that?
DALE SVEUM: I think more of the power arm is the big athletic bodies, knowing that they can hold the stamina of 35 starts and 200-plus innings. When you have those kind of bodies and those kind of frames, they just hold up through the longevity of a season. It's a lot easier for those guys to handle that kind of stress.

Q. After you had your second interview with the Red Sox, were you surprised that didn't go any farther than that?
DALE SVEUM: I don't know if it was a surprise or not. It was basically that time where somebody was going to offer me a job or not offer me a job. So the Cubs offered me the job first and that's kind of where it ended up anyway, after my second interview. After going through all those second interviews, it was just nice to get one offer.

Q. What enticed you the most about potentially managing in Boston?
DALE SVEUM: I don't know, like anywhere, the opportunity to win. And when you're in these big markets it magnifies everything and creates an atmosphere every single night that sometimes you don't get in other cities or something. But when you manage in these cities where the spotlight is on yourself and the team all the time it makes it a lot more enticing to have one of these jobs.

Q. Do you have a good sense when you get to Milwaukee that you were going to leave there with a job?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah, I mean I can't say I wasn't pretty optimistic, when you go back for your second interviews and you're talking to owners and you get that far to talk to owners, you feel like you've got a chance. So, yeah. When I got to Milwaukee I felt like there was a decent chance that I could leave here with a job.

Q. Since you got the job have you talked much to Robin [Yount] now?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah, I've talked to him quite a bit lately. He was in Hawaii for a couple of weeks after I got the job, so I didn't talk much then. But since he's been home we've been talking. And mainly trying to get together so we can go hunting. All this stuff is getting into my hunting time. So he keeps calling and wondering when we're going to get a free day to go hunting.

Q. Where would you go hunting?
DALE SVEUM: In Arizona.

Q. What do you hunt there, coyotes?
DALE SVEUM: We've got pig and quail. We'll hunt anything, coyotes.

Q. As you were interviewing for those two jobs, the Red Sox and the Cubs job, was there any differences, any distinct differences between those jobs that made them different?
DALE SVEUM: The interview process?

Q. What the jobs would have been? Both obviously big markets?
DALE SVEUM: Well, the jobs would have been different just because the Red Sox, for the most part, it's American League, so you're not dealing with the same kind of managing techniques you're going to do in the National League. Their lineup was pretty much set besides maybe if they were going to trade anybody to get a starting pitcher or something. Where we have a few major parts that we have to figure out and get straightened out. So, yeah, they're going to be probably completely different type managing jobs, as well as the process of putting a team together.

Q. You have a coach with Rudy Jaramillo, do you share the same kind of philosophies?
DALE SVEUM: I don't know if Rudy has a philosophy or I have a philosophy on hitting. I think when you deal with 12 individuals and you're trying to be consistent at this level, you've got to treat each guy individually. Everybody is different.

Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks, each one of those guys is a completely different person, completely different body frame, completely different approach, lower half to hitting. So you can go on and on about the differences. But I think you have to be open minded when you're dealing with hitting in the big leagues because you're not teaching as much as putting a plan together to make sure they're not failing or the failing gets cut a little short. We want guys to be more like this (indicating), and not like this (indicating), so you've got to cut it off before they get in a two week slump or anything like that.

Q. What's your impression of free agent Hiroki Kuroda, Japanese pitcher?
DALE SVEUM: He's probably top three to five starters out there, if not the top three from what I saw and how much hitters hated facing him. He's got some quality stuff. I mean he's got the cutter type slider that's a swing and miss. He's got a sneaky fastball. He can get it to 94. Plays around 92, 93, but probably plays more 95, 96. When he gets in trouble he can dial it up. I was very impressed with him. Like I said, to me he's the top three free agents on the market right now.

Q. He would be a good fit on your club?
DALE SVEUM: Yeah, sure he would. We're always looking for quality starting pitching.