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updated: 9/29/2013 8:05 PM

Cubs' Sveum could find out his fate Monday

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  • Cubs manager Dale Sveum looks out from the dugout before Sunday's game against the Cardinals in St. Louis.

    Cubs manager Dale Sveum looks out from the dugout before Sunday's game against the Cardinals in St. Louis.
    Associated Press


Now what?

The Cubs finished another dismal season Sunday, losing 4-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. With the loss, the Cubs wound up 66-96. That marks a slight improvement from the 61-101 record the Cubs put up last season in the first year of team president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and field manager Dale Sveum.

Epstein and Hoyer are safe in their jobs as they continue on their massive rebuilding of the entire Cubs organization.

The same can't be said for Sveum.

The hand-picked choice of Epstein and Hoyer may find out his fate as early as Monday, when Epstein continues his evaluation of all aspects of the team.

Sveum has one more year to go on his contract, but Epstein left the door wide open for a possible change on Sept. 17 in Milwaukee, when he did not definitely commit to his manager past this season.

Epstein said the Cubs' record (which is a combined 70 games under .500 under the Epstein management team) would not be a determining factor in Sveum's fate.

This year the Cubs were 24-45 after the all-star break and 9-18 in September.

Epstein cited other issues, such as the development of young players under Sveum along with "way the manager uses the roster and other longer-term, longer-horizon issues.

"There's the ability to create a culture of accountability, hard work, preparation. Then there's the ability to develop solid, trusting relationships with players so that we can get through periods when you don't see eye to eye so you can get through adversity together."

Sveum made out what could have been his final lineup card as manager of the Cubs Sunday in St. Louis.

"Obviously, it's the last day, so it's a little different than any other day with the players," Sveum told reporters before the game. "You know it's the last day of the season, and you're going to play it out and hopefully win a ballgame.

"You'd be lying if you didn't have anxiety about what's going to happen in 24 hours. That's human nature."

One factor on which Sveum will be evaluated is the development of the Cubs' two young "core" players, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and shortstop Starlin Castro. Both saw their offensive numbers fall off in 2013. It's possible Sveum could get fired over that issue.

If Sveum stays, Epstein and Hoyer could make a change with the hitting coaches. Epstein last season fired hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, a holdover from the Jim Hendry front office, and replaced him with James Rowson from within the organization.

Rowson kept the job in the off-season, and the Cubs hired former major-league home run hitter Rob Deer as an assistant hitting coach.

In Sunday's loss, starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija worked 6 innings, giving up 8 hits and 3 runs as his record fell to 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA.

He also seemed to back Sveum in his postgame comments. It probably won't make a difference either way. Before Epstein's first season, he met with reporters at spring training and said fan and media reaction to the then-upcoming tough times were just "noise."

That probably goes for player reactions as well.

"He's a great guy and great (manager)," Samardzija said Sunday. "You have to look at it as a whole. What's going on here? As a player, you want consistency. You want to build relationships and want to lean on them in certain times when you need that.

"All we can say is who knows? It's not our call. They haven't contacted us. It's whatever they want to do and what's best for the organization. I want to win, and the guys in here want to win. That's the bottom line."

We'll find out very soon what Epstein's bottom line is.

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