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Cubs fire manager Dale Sveum

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The Chicago Cubs have fired manager Dale Sveum after two lackluster seasons, the team announced on Monday.

"Today, we made the very difficult decision to relieve Dale Sveum of his duties as Cubs manager," Cubs president Theo Epstein said in a statement. "Dale has been a committed leader for this team the last two seasons, and I want to thank him for all of his dedication and hard work."

The Cubs struggled again this season, finishing 66-96.

According to multiple reports, Epstein and his staff were not impressed with Sveum's development of young players, in-game decisions and use of the 25-man roster. Sveum had a year remaining on his contract.

"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 in the statement. "We will begin our search immediately – a process which will be completed before the GM meetings in early November and perhaps much sooner."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a Peoria, Ill native who played baseball at Northwestern University, has been speculated to be the Cubs' top candidate to replace Sveum. Girardi spent seven years during his playing career with the Cubs and is a free-agent after the 2013 season.

Girardi downplayed his Chicago connections on Sunday afternoon.

"Our home has been here," Girardi said. "My kids are engrossed in schools here. I haven’t lived there since 2006. I have a brother still there, a couple brothers there, actually. But my father’s gone. My mother’s gone. So there’s not as much there as there used to be."

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