The Chicago Cubs have fired manager Dale Sveum after just two seasons.
Sveum, who had a year remaining on his contract, guided the Cubs to a record of 66-96 this past season, a slight improvement from a 61-101 mark in his first year of 2012.
"Today, we made the very difficult decision to relieve Dale Sveum of his duties as Cubs manager," said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in a statement Monday.
"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. (General manager) Jed (Hoyer) 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 took control of the Cubs' front office in October 2011 and a few weeks later hired Sveum, who had been a big league manager for just 12 regular- season games with Milwaukee on an interim basis at the close of the 2008 campaign. He righted a sinking ship and steered the Brewers to a wild card spot with a 7-5 record. Milwaukee was then ousted from the playoffs by Philadelphia in the NL Division Series.
"We had hoped Dale would grow with our organization to see it through the building phase to a period of sustained excellence," Epstein added. "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."
Epstein is trying to rebuild the Cubs, who have now had four straight losing seasons and last reached the playoffs as NL Central champs in back-to-back seasons of 2007-08. Both times they were swept out of the playoffs in the Division Series.
"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," Epstein continued. "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. 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."
Epstein said he has not yet contacted any candidates or asked permission from other clubs to speak with potential candidates, but expects to have a new manager in place before the GM meetings in early November.