Theo Epstein Heads to the Windy City to Lead the Cubs

Thursday October 13, 2011

 

Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports):  On October 12, 2011, Theo Epstein, former GM of the Boston Red Sox agreed to a 5 year deal worth more than $15M.  With the Chicago Cubs.  This all comes as no real surprise to anyone, as it had been speculated since the Cubs fired GM Jim Hendry in August that Epstein was their top target.  The real surprise is that Epstein and the Boston Red Sox’s falling out happened so swiftly.  Within two weeks of the Red Sox collapse, which has been widely discussed by everyone in baseball circles, manager Terry Francona and the team parted ways, as well as, now, their general manager Theo Epstein.

It has been well-documented that Epstein was able to overcome the “Curse of the Bambino” by employing a bunch of “idiots” in the locker room that went on to win a World Series in 2004.  This mentality has been a similar mantra of the Red Sox throughout his tenure.  Because they won in 2004, and also in 2007, it was completely acceptable for players to do what they pleased in the locker room.  Now that the epic collapse took place, the organization needed a change, and true accountability never took place for the Red Sox.

Epstein is a GM of great stature.  He is trusted and many people believe in his abilities.  He employs a “Moneyball” type strategy, which is also aided by having a large payroll, something he will also have the ability to create in Chicago.  Ownership of the Cubs have not been afraid to spend money, and most of the time have put themselves in unfortunate situations.

Two contracts come to mind when I think of the Cubs.  Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano.  Prior to the 2007 season, Soriano inked a contract worth $136M over 8 years.  In 2007, Zambrano signed an extension for the 2008-2012 seasons, with a vesting option for 2013 worth $91.5M.  Epstein has a lot of work cut out for him with an aging, mediocre core, but finding a suitor for these two players, or finding a way for them to produce and not be distractions in the clubhouse is paramount.

Another major task for him is to figure out what he wants to do with incumbent manager, Mike Quade.  Quade was hired as the Cubs’ interim manager on August 22, 2010, and in October, the interim title was stripped.  Quade led the Cubs to a 71-91 record and a 5th place finish in the NL Central, only ahead of the lowly Houston Astros.  This record was tied for the 5th worst in all of baseball.  When Quade was hired, much to the dismay of Cubs fans, who wanted Ryne Sandberg to take the helm, he was highly regarded as a smart, methodical baseball thinker.  Was the year and month enough of a trial, or will Epstein want to bring in his own talent to manage this struggling franchise?

Epstein will also consider bringing in his own front office, using members from his group with the Red Sox.  With news breaking that Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager Ben Cherington will take over as GM in Boston, Epstein will be fighting to bring his favorite guys over with him.

The last thing holding up this deal is compensation for the Red Sox.  Since Epstein had one year remaining on his contract with Boston, the Cubs had to ask permission to even speak with him.  Epstein had made it known to the organization that he would be leaving after 2012, so the Red Sox allowed talks to run smoothly, as they would have owed him $3M for the season, and a contract bonus of $4M.  Cash and/or prospects will easily get the job done.

The deal has not yet been completed due to some of these complications, but should be done by the beginning of next week.  Epstein will have a major challenge in Chicago, as they are not even close to competing.  Major decisions need to be made, and even with his high level of competency, it will take up to five years for the Cubs to be a major contender in the NL Central.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

About these ads

About blandy12

Baseball has been my love since I was three years old. Now I finally have the courage to write about this passion. Share your comments please.

Posted on October 13, 2011, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Starlin Castro at short is something to build on and Soto behind the plate isn’t bad down the middle . . . Theo can turn around the Cubs in quicker than five years because with all the AA Anthopolouses of the world building from within, as is the trend, there will still be some quality free agents on the market the next few years and the Cubs will be bigger players alongside the Yanks/Sox/Phillies and maybe bring in Fielder, Pujols, Longoria etc. in the next few years. But you can’t win without pitching.

  2. Castro and Soto are a start. The problems are Soriano and Zambrano contracts. Their minor leagues are not very good, so it will be difficult to use trades. They are close to tapped out financially as far as payroll goes, and until Z and Soriano comes off the books, I doubt there will be much in the way of free agency. I can see Fielder going there, but that one piece alone basically prohibits them from doing anything at all with the rest of the roster. Epstein will look to restock the minors as a main priority I am sure.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,719 other followers

%d bloggers like this: