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The Cubs' Caretaker

Contrary to what many sports pundits continue to insist, Dale Sveum was never hired to simply be a caretaker manager who would be replaced by a "real" manager once the Cubs were ready to win. That makes no sense on several levels - the first being that Sveum's bosses were counting on him to develop the team's prospects while instilling a new culture into a locker room whose managers have notoriously allowed the asylum to be run by the inmates.

If Sveum fulfilled that mission, tossing him aside just as the team was on the brink would have been madness.

No, hiring Sveum was part and parcel of The Plan. That's why the team made such a public spectacle of the hiring process. (The confusing failure of Sveum only goes to show how fragile The Plan really is.)

The hiring of Ricky Renteria, on the other hand, has caretaker written all over it. His chief attribute - as touted by his own bosses - is his relentless optimism (along with an ability to speak Spanish).

His lack of managerial acumen is way down the list. And in his first week at the helm, he didn't disappoint. This guy is going to be a disaster - in a very Cubs-like way.

First, Jeff Samardzija got the Opening Day start that rightfully belonged to Travis Wood.

Second, Starlin Castro started the season in the three-hole; a bit much for a player who badly slumped last year because he had too much going on in his head. He went Starlin Castro went 0-for-6, leaving eight on base, and since then has batted second three times and sixth once. That's not the path to a consistent approach at the plate by a muddled young player. It also means Renteria failed to solve one of the team's central riddles during the off-season.

But the real boner was Renteria's mishandling of his pitching staff in the very first game of the season.

In the 10th inning of a 0-0 game, having used three relievers in the previous two innings, Renteria brought in fifth starter Carlos Villanueva. The problem wasn't so much that Villanueva gave up the game-losing homer to Neil Walker on his eighth pitch and first batter of the season, though that was a problem. It's that he brought in his fifth starter to relieve in the season's first game.

And it's not like it was the 16th inning and Renteria had little choice. The Pirates also used four relievers - only their fourth reliever was actually a reliever.

But that's not all.

In an effort to further redefine the term "swingman," Renteria brought back Villanueva in Game 2!

In this case, it was the 16th inning. That's why you don't bring Villanueva in when you don't need to - 'cause you might need to in the next game!

This time it took Villanueva 22 pitches to lose the games, giving him an 0-2 record before even making his first start.

That start took place three days later, on Sunday. Villanueva gave up six hits and one run in five innings - and 71 pitches - to notch the win.

I suppose it doesn't matter in the big picture. If and when the Cubs are really ready to win, Renteria won't be around - and neither will Villanueva.

But as long as we're stuck with them in the interim, it would be nice to see them get it right.

The Week In Review: The Cubs dropped two of three to both the Pirates and the Phillies to open the season. Truly, they might never see .500.

The Week In Preview: The Pirates come to Wrigley for a three-game series, then the Cubs travel to St. Louis for three. Truly, they might never see .500.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: Watch the Cubs shoot for 62 wins this season to make this season's anniversary totally perfect.

Theo Condescension Meter: Up to 9.5 for "indulging" questions about Jeff Samardzija.

Prospect Are Suspects Watch: Javy Baez, he of 40 errors and 0 walks last year, also has no glove, no position and no brains.

Mad Merch: The first 40,000 fans who show up to Wrigley Field this week will be sold a ticket to the game, which they can take home and frame.

Laughable Headline Of The Week: Can Cubs Salvage The Edwin Jackson Contract?

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Billy Cub Says He Was Goaded Into Throwing Punch At Wrigleyville Bar; Clark Cub Still A Pantsless Weirdo.

Advantage: Billy.

The Junior Lake Show: Plays entire inning in wrong uniform.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Emilio Bonifacio face a sell-off as the Cubs failed to trade him at his highest value this week.

Shark Tank: So Jeff was reading The Cub Factor last season after all.

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Ricky Renteria standing between Dale Sveum and Mike Quade on the day the Cubs welcome former managers back for a visit.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020.

Over/Under: Games Cubs win this month: +/- 6.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that this isn't fun anymore.

Fantasy Fix: False Starts.

The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano Starlin Castro, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.


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