Tagged with "Theo Epstein"
Five Minute Frags - Cubs Will Need A Few More Years of Patience
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB Chicago Cubs Theo Epstein

 

For as much as baseball has changed over the years there are many things that can be counted on to stay true from year to year. For good or bad, some things have just become a tradition of the game.

 

The Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field are two of those baseball traditions that embody both the good and the bad. Baseball would be lost without the Cubs and the beauty of Wrigley Field. One of the greatest fan bases in all of sports, the Cubs and Wrigley Field have seen a lot of things happen over the past century, but change is not one of them.

 

And neither is a championship.

 

It has been 103 seasons since the Chicago Cubs won their last World Series, having not hoisted a banner since 1908. To make matters worse, they have not even appeared in the Fall Classic since 1945, a span of 66 seasons. Yet these fans still come out to cheer on their “loveable losers” in the hopes that they are there when the dam breaks. Oh what a glorious flood it will be too.

 

But that floor isn’t coming in 2012, and likely not in 2013 either.

 

A remark like that isn’t exactly going out on a limb, not with over a century of precedence to base it on, but it isn’t without merit either. Then again, this isn’t a rudderless ship either.

 

The Cubs turned a new page this offseason when they named former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein as their President, Baseball Operations and Epstein subsequently hired former Padres general manager Jed Hoyer to the same position with the Cubs. What this inherently does is breath new life into the Cubs front office by inserting the same brain trust that help end the 86-year drought of the Boston Red Sox.

 

The pair is already putting their footprint on the team, but they are acquiring a team that is vastly different than the Red Sox squad in 2003. There is a significant drop-off in the level of talent on this Cubs roster than what the Red Sox had. It isn’t a case of simply adding the right pieces, but reinventing the entire system and rebuilding a winning mindset that has been missing for a long time.

 

Based on the moves made this offseason, it is obvious that the Cubs are thinking long-term. Handcuffed by bad contracts (Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Dempster) and a significantly less flexible budget than his former team, Epstein has focused on making smaller moves that will benefit the team in the short-term, but allow them the flexibility to field a true winner when the other pieces fall into place. You cannot discount the ability to purge the team of Carlos Zambrano while also adding quality clubhouse guys like David DeJesus to the roster.

 

Some of those pieces also include a farm system that has suffered from bad decisions by the previous regime. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney have been two solid prospects to emerge from the system, but it is also littered with “can’t miss” prospects Josh Vitters who have yet to grasp their promise and turn it into performance. Still, the Cubs have a few highly-regarded prospects that could pan out and are the key to the team’s turnaround. Players like Brett Jackson, Javier Baez, Matt Szczur, Dillon Maples, and Trey McNutt are just a handful of a group that previous regimes would have traded away for the sake of winning now. Instead, this group is adding to it, both by planning for a solid draft and by inserting new life into the system by acquiring guys like Anthony Rizzo.

 

And that is truly where the difference lies here. The Epstein/Hoyer regime has its mind set on the long-term. They understand where this team got itself into trouble by making risky choices because of the pressure to end the streak. But more importantly, they understand that the Cubs fans have been faithful enough to wait this long and that they are willing to give these two the chance to bring it home for sustained success, not just the gratification of a single season.

 

You don’t end a 103 year curse overnight and you certainly don’t do it with the mindset to allow the club to slip back immediately afterwards. You build a winner by making sure it stays on top.

 

It just takes a little bit more patience to get there.

Theo Epstein has long term plans for Cubs.

Five Minute Frags - Let's Make A Deal
Category: FEATURED
Tags: MLB Boston Red Sox Chicago Cubs Theo Epstein Matt Garza John Lackey

 

So just how much is a good general manager worth in baseball? We are about to find out.

By now, the news of Theo Epstein’s acceptance of a five-year deal with the Chicago Cubs has made its way around the block more times than a Kardashian chasing any second-tier athlete not wearing a wedding ring. Of course, the hurdle here is that Epstein is still under contract with Boston for another season, meaning that if the Cubs truly want him, they’ll have to compensate the Red Sox accordingly.

That brings me back to the first question. How much is a good general manager worth?

Well, for the Cubs, you just can’t put a price tag on that. For a team that has not won a World Series since 1908, let alone hasn’t even played in one since 1945, a blank check may well be in order. Epstein would be step in the right direction. He would immediately bring a sense of credibility to a front office that has lacked solid leadership for years and his ability to identify amateur talent would help to rebuild a farm system that has been lacking in top prospects for years.

And let’s remember, that Epstein likely won’t be alone. He’ll bring with him whomever the Red Sox will allow him to squeeze into his file box with his personal belongings. Epstein has always enjoyed having the brightest minds placed right beside him and moving to the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field won’t change that. The Cubs will be getting an entire team of little Theo’s as well.

All that remains is how big of a price tag the Red Sox want to place on him.

All indications are that Boston is asking for prospects while Chicago wants only to part with cash, but this fan has other thoughts. There should be more at stake here.

First off, Boston should not settle for prospects or cash alone. They need Major League talent that is ready to play now. And where Boston needs it most is the pitching staff. The Cubs have one in particular who knows the rigors of the AL East and would be an immediate boon to the staff; Matt Garza. Obviously, Chicago won’t throw him in for Epstein alone, but there are ways to get a deal done. Make the Garza acquisition a side deal contingency, one that sends John Lackey and some cash to offset some of his contract to Chicago for Garza. Sox immediately upgrade their pitching and get rid of a cancer both in the line-up and the clubhouse.

Secondly, Boston should see at least one prospect back in the deal. Of the names flouted, only right- center-fielder Brett Jackson is truly worth mentioning. Jackson put together a 20/20 season last year between Double and Triple-A, and would protect Boston against losing Ellsbury in two seasons.

For the Cubs, that sounds like a small price to pay for a young GM who is recognized at the top of his class and has a history of turning around an organization. Epstein won’t deliver immediate results, but he’ll make things fun in Chicago and he’ll do it within a season or two.

For their part, the Red Sox will surely miss Theo, but they’ll also be in good hands with Ben Cherington, Epstein’s assistant and top protégé still under Boston control. Of course, they could try to lure Brian Cashman from New York or Andrew Friedman from Tampa Bay, but money says they stay in house, especially with all of the upheaval currently underway.

So in the end, we come back to the question of just how much a good general manager is worth. It may be an arm and a leg, but they are an arm and a leg that they can afford to lose.

    

Red Sox Still A Bridge Too Far
Category: MLB
Tags: MLB Boston Red Sox Bridge Year Theo Epstein

"We still think that if we push some of the right buttons, we can be competitive at the very highest levels for the next two years. But we don't want to compromise too much of the future for that competitiveness during the bridge period, but we all don't want to sacrifice our competitiveness during the bridge just for the future. So we're just trying to balance both those issues.''

 

That is how Theo Epstein, in December 2009, started the 2010 season, lowering expectations for the 2010 MLB season while raising expectations for the level of talent coming for the future. Needless to say, the concept of a "bridge period" did not endear itself to Red Sox fans that were used to contending and typically start the year with dreams of October rather than what position the Sox will be drafting in the following June.

 

As it turns out, Epstein wasn't too far off.

 

As disappointing as Boston's season has been in 2010, the results on the field for the Red Sox really haven't been all that bad when factoring for the amount of injuries that Boston sustained throughout the year. Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia, arguably the heart and soul of the team, were both lost to season ending, fluke injuries for the last third of the season. The team's lead-off hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury, has been unable to recover from broken ribs sustained in the opening week and was essentially lost for the season. Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez depleted the catching corps with lengthy stays on the disabled list. And none of that includes the trips made by Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clay Bucholtz, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Cameron, or any of the others who enjoyed their trip to the DL.

 

So instead of their everyday line-up that was reported to have a $163 million price tag on it, the Red Sox have had to live off of the likes of wandering veterans and independent league finds like Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, Eric Patterson, Kevin Cash, Jonathan Van Every, and Bill Hall. And while this large market team has been trotting out a bunch of has-beens and never-weres, they will somehow still produce between 85 and 90 wins on the season, while finishing in third behind the two best teams in baseball, Tampa and New York. Yes, it could have been better, but it also could have been a lot worse.

 

Now that the season is almost lost, the Red Sox are beginning to test that bridge, awarding extended playing time to some of the team's top prospects in hopes of seeing what 2011 may hold. Currently on the roster, Boston is holding open tryouts for outfielders Ryan Kalish and Josh Redick, and first baseman Lars Anderson.

 

Anderson, while having not yet hit a home run during his call-up, is a huge power prospect for Boston. Depending on what the Sox choose to do with Adrian Beltre during the off-season, Anderson could become the starting first baseman next year with Youkilis moving over to third. Beltre has more than earned an extension with his play, but given that he is represented by Scott Boras, Beltre is also likely to test his worth on the open market, leaving Boston looking to fill the role. With no real game-changers coming up on the 2011 free agent market, Anderson may earn the position during this tryout and spring training.

 

Kalish and Redick may be different stories. Kalish, while going through some struggles, has shown he is capable of handling an everyday job. Redick has struggled during multiple call-ups during the last two seasons and may need another year of polishing at the Triple-A level. That said, they may both start the season in Triple-A anyway because of Boston's current contractual obligations to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, and J.D. Drew. Ellsbury may have a chance to be moved in the off-season, but given his injuries this season, his value is probably lower than Boston will let him go for. Plus, Boston will likely only choose to trade Ellsbury if they manage to land a big-name replacement for him in either Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth. Neither Redick nor Kalish will benefit from being a fourth outfielder next season.

 

So while the bridge may be closer, Boston is likely still another season from seeing true fruition from their farm system, adding Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias to the mix with Kalish, Redick, and Anderson. Until then, this may still be a bridge too far for most Sox fans.

 

Originally published on AssociatedContent.com

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