Tag Archive | "Theo Epstein"

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Will Tito Reunite with Epstein in Chicago? Wrigley Field 11/3/11

Posted on 03 November 2011 by Lou

Now it looks like Theo Epstein is interested in having Terry Francona interview for the Cubs vacant managerial job.  Epstein acknowledged that the 2 have spoken a lot since the end of the season and that they will “sit down together and see if it’s a fit.”  Epstein went on to say this about Terry Francona: “Clearly he would be at the top of anyone’s list of available managers.  That’s probably true of any organization looking for a manager with experience and who is a proven winner.  He has to be at the very top of the list.  I think he has to figure out if this is right for him, and then as we continue our process and figure out where we are headed, we have to figure out the right fit in this organization, too.”

Epstein originally hired Francona as the Red Sox back in the winter of 2003.  Together, the Epstein/Francona duo won world series in 2004 and 2007 and they went to the playoffs 6 years.  Francona resigned as the Red Sox manager at the end of the 2010 campaign after a 7-20 finish cost the Red Sox a post-season berth.  Francona seemed to have lost control of the Red Sox clubhouse and since his departure, he has made mixed statements about whether he wants to take a year off before he accepts another managerial post.

Outside of Francona, Epstein also confirmed that he plans to interview Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and that he has requested permission from the Texas Rangers to speak with their pitching coach Mike Maddux.  How about a brother combo with Mike as Manager and Greg as pitching coach?  I guess crazier things have happened.

We’ll keep you posted as things progress with the Cubs managerial hunt…

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Cubs, Epstein Fire Manager Mike Quade After Just 1 Season – Wrigley Field 11/2/11

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Lou

Let the Theo reign begin – Epstein and the Cubs let Manager Mike Quade go after one full MLB season at the helm.  The Cubs finished 71-91 under Quade during the 2011 MLB campaign and his overall record in 199 games was a less-than-desirable 95-104.  Quade had 1-year left on the 2-year deal that he signed during winter 2010 and he is still owed $1 million from the Cubs.

Epstein had this to say about Quade and where the Cubs go from here:

“When I joined the Cubs last week, I knew that Mike had a reputation as an outstanding baseball guy, as a tireless worker, and as a first-rate human being…  After spending some time with him this past week, it became apparent to me that Mike’s reputation is well deserved. His passion, knowledge of the game, commitment, and integrity stood out immediately. While Mike is clearly an asset to any organization and any major league staff, Jed and I believe that the Cubs would benefit long term from bringing in a manager for 2012 who can come in with a clean slate and offer new direction…  “The managerial search process begins immediately.  We are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success. The next manager must have leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind; and he must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.”

Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer flew to Florida late last week to speak with Mike Quade in person.  Although it sounds like the discussions went well, it is pretty clear that Theo & Co. simply wanted to start from scratch.  It was great that they took the time to meet with Quade in person and even better that Epstein flew down there again on Tuesday to give Mike the news in person.  I’m sure they are probably just covering their bases, but it’s still the right thing to do in this game.

Immediately, names like Ryne Sandberg and Terry Francona pop up as possible replacements for Quade.  Although Epstein’s statements about the next manager having major league experience (as either a coach or manager) seem to eliminate Sandberg from the mix.  It’s also interesting that the Philadelphia Phillies have already granted the St. Louis Cardinals permission to speak with Sandberg about their managerial vacancy after Tony LaRussa’s retirement annoucnement earlier this week.  With the Red Sox sure to be in the mix for Sandberg too, if Sandberg is on the short list of managers for Theo & Jed, they better act quickly before another team swoops in and makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything else on the Cubs managerial front…

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Epstein Compensation Deadline Today – Will Sides Agree or Do They Need Selig? Wrigley Field 11/1/11

Posted on 01 November 2011 by Lou

The deadline to agree upon the “significant compensation” owed the Red Sox from the Cubs is today.  To date, the 2 sides still can’t agree upon the “value” of Theo Epstein and what the Red Sox should receive from the Cubs in return for allowing him leave with 1 year remaining on his contract as GM of Boston.  If the Cubs and Red Sox can’t agree upon the minor league prospects to be traded to the Red Sox, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig will likely need to intervene to determine the compensation.

New Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said this the other day: “We’ve always felt like that was a possibility.  It’s a difficult deal to work out. It’s hard to quantify the value of a Theo Epstein. I have an idea of it, and Theo doesn’t think he’s worth as much as I think he is, and we haven’t bridged that gap.”

What we do know is that the sides have reached an understanding of how to treat other Red Sox employees who may want to follow Theo to Chicago.  Cherington went on to say: “If there’s an opportunity for one person to go to Chicago that’s clearly a better opportunity, then that’s good, we don’t want to stand in anyone’s way.  There’s an understanding the Cubs won’t raid the Red Sox and the Red Sox aren’t going to raid the Cubs.  It should be a good relationship going forward.”  A couple of key thing to note there – 1. Cherington specifically said 1 person leaving the Red Sox, so don’t expect a mass exodus or “heads will roll”.  2. It has to be a “promotion” for the person leaving, just like Theo went from Red Sox GM to Cubs President.  3.  I love how he threw in the fact that the Red Sox won’t “raid the Cubs”, like they would ever really do that.  The Red Sox have won 2 World Series since 2004.  The Cubs lost 6 straight playoffs game in 2008 and 2009 and then had back-to-back 90-loss seasons in 2010 and 2011. Do you really think the Red Sox are going to want to “pluck away” one of those great Cubs execs who put those teams together?  Gimme a break, but I guess it was the “PC” thing for Cherington to say.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything on the compensation issue today…

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Cubs Exercise Aramis Ramirez Club Option for 2012 – Wrigley Field 10/31/11

Posted on 31 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs have exercised the $16 million club option for Aramis Ramirez for the 2012 MLB season.  Aramis Ramirez has already notified the Cubs that he plans to entertain free agent offers for the first time in his career, so the move was more of a smart procedural move by Theo & Co.  The Cubs either had to pick up the option or buy Ramirez out for $2 million.  By exercising the option, the Cubs would have had to offer Ramirez arbitration.  But Ramirez has chosen to opt out of the option and seek a long-term deal from another team.  The move saves the Cubs $2 million and also brings them a 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft from the team who signs Ramirez in free agency.  The wheels to re-build the organization from the ground up are already churning.

Ramirez’s agent Paul Kinzer had this to say about Ramirez’s departure from Chicago: “We are very sorry that this era is coming to the end for Aramis and the Cubs.  He loves Chicago and the fans.  They’ve been great to him, but at this point it’s better that we check out the market and address free agency… At this point, Aramis is looking for a multiyear deal and looking forward to being a free agent for the first time in his career.”

Ramirez hit only .241 in 2010 due to injuries, but he bounced back with a solid 2011 campaign.  He led the Cubs with his 93 RBI’s, .871 OPS and extra-base hits. and he was just one point behind Starlin Castro’s team-leading .307 batting average.

Now it’s up to Theo & Co. to get creative with the Cubs 3rd base hole for next year.  Can’t wait to see these guys in action…

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Hoyer, McLeod Set To Join Cubs Front Office – Wrigley Field 10/28/11

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs plan to hire Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod to their front office to join Team President Theo Epstein.  The trio worked together in the organization during the successful run from 2004-2008 when the Red Sox won 2 World Series titles.  Since both executives are under contract with the San Diego Padres, the Cubs will send a player to be named later as compensation for the deal.

Jed Hoyer will serve as Executive Vice President / General Manager (alongside) Theo Epstein.  McLeod will serve as the head of scouting and player development.  The Cubs just gave Oneri Fleita a new 4-year contract as the director of player development, so he will report to McLeod.  Current scouting director Tim Wilken will also report to McLeod.  Fleita and Wilken have excellent reputations thoughout all of baseball, so having 5 top-notch executives in one front office makes the Cubs a very formidable team “behind the scenes”.

The Cubs will hold a press conference on Monday to make the hirings official.  The rumor is that Randy Bush – who has been serving as the team’s interim GM since Jim Hendry’s firing this summer – will no longer serve in any capacity for the Cubs in the future.

The pieces keep falling into place.  Now that the World Series is almost over, it will be time for Theo, Jed & Co. to get moving on formulating a game plan for what they want to do with Manager Mike Quade and free agents like Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Pena.  The front office will also have to decide what to do with Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano.

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Will Theo Epstein Keep Manager Mike Quade? Wrigley Field 10/26/11

Posted on 26 October 2011 by Lou

Will new President Theo Epstein keep Manager Mike Quade in the mix in 2012?  It is a great question and Epstein didn’t show his hand during several radio station interviews this morning, including an interview with Waddle and Silvy on ESPN Radio 1000 Chicago.  Epstein had this to say about the Cubs current manager who still has 1 year left on his contract through the 2012 MLB season: “I’ve already had a couple of nice phone conversations with Mike Quade.  We have plans to meet in person sometime over the next week… Mike seems like a great guy and he has developed a great reputation over many decades in the game.  I look forward to sitting down with him in person as a first step, sharing with him my vision for the organization. I’d like to hear his vision for the organization.”

It’s kind of a difficult situation for both Epstein and Quade.  Let’s face it, the Cubs are not going to be good in 2012, even with Theo at the helm.  So if Epstein fires Quade and brings in a new manager (say Ryne Sandberg), when the Cubs have another awful start to the season (which they likely will), you’d hate to have the fan base start questioning Epstein and the new manager right off the bat.  By leaving Quade in place, when the Cubs start bad, you can always blame Quade and make a move to switch managers mid-season.  That new manager can either be an interim manager to finish the season or the guy you want to go to to lead the team in the future.  The one “X” factor is what if the Cubs actually have a decent season – then what do you do with Quade.  But I guess I’d rather have it that way.  It doesn’t mean you have to stick with Quade after the 2012 MLB season.  It just means you bring in someone else who will raise the bar even higher for years to come (similar to what the Blackhawks did when they fired Dennis Savard after a few games at the start of the 2009-2010 NHL season and brought in Joel Quinneville who eventually led the Hawks to the Stanley Cup Trophy later that season).

In any event, we should know pretty soon whether or not Quade will be back – we’ll keep you posted…

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Cubs Introduce Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations – Wrigley Field 10/25/11

Posted on 25 October 2011 by Lou

Theo Epstein is the Cubs new “savior” – sort of.  Epstein will serve as the Cubs President of Baseball Operations under a 5-year deal that will pay him just under $20 million.  Theo brought the Red Sox 2 World Series titles during his tenure as Red Sox GM and Tom Ricketts and Cubs fans all over the world hope that he do the same for the north siders.  Theo is clearly talented and he gets it, having experienced the same pain and agony that Cubs fans have felt for 103 years and counting.  Theo said all the right things during his Tuesday press conference – here are a few snippets of some great lines from the day:

“To me, baseball is better with tradition, baseball is better with history, baseball is better with fans who care, baseball is better in ballparks like this, baseball is better during the day. And baseball is, best of all, when you win.”

“I firmly believe that we can preserve the things that make the Cubs so special and over time build a consistent winner, a team that will be playing baseball in October consistently and a team that will ultimately win the World Series.”

“I’ve waited a few weeks to say this, but it truly feels great to be a Cub today.”

“I don’t believe in curses, (and) I guess I played a small part in proving they don’t exist, from a baseball standpoint.  I do think we can be honest and upfront that certain organizations haven’t gotten the job done. That’s the approach we took in Boston. We identified certain things that we hadn’t been doing well, that might have gotten in the way of a World Series, and eradicated them. That’s what we’ll do here.”

And when asked why he thinks he can bring a championship to the Cubs even though no one else has been able to do that for 100+ years, you have to love his confidence, focus and tenacity:  “When I got to Boston they hadn’t won in 86 years. We didn’t run from that challenge. We embraced it.  We decided the way to attack it was to build the best baseball operation that we could, to try to establish a winning culture, to work as hard as possible and to bring in players who care more about each other and more about winning than the people around them thought or the external expectations, the external mindset. That’s something that is going to be important to us here as well.  We’re going to build the best baseball operation we can. We’re going to change the culture. Our players are going to change the culture along with us in the major league clubhouse. We’re going to make building a foundation for sustained success a priority. That will lead to playing October baseball more often than not. Once you get in in October there’s a legitimate chance to win the World Series.”

San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer and Assistant GM Jason McLeod have also been in Chicago the last 3 days working out their deals and ESPN’s Bruce Levine anticipates that we will have an announcement on their hires within the week.

Gotta love it – obviously there are NO guarantees, but when you put the right people in charge, and those people know how to put the right pieces together, you have a great chance to succeed year in and year out.  It may take 2, 3 or even 5 years, but if they do build another “powerhouse” organization in Chicago with a team that wins every season and with a team that competes for the post-season each and every season, Cubs fans will have a lot to cheer about.  And who knows, maybe they’ll even get to hoist that World Series trophy at Wrigley Field…

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It’s Official – Tom Ricketts Hires Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations – Wrigley Field 10/22/11

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Lou

It’s official – Tom Ricketts and the Cubs have hired Theo Epstein as their new President of Baseball Operations.  MLB Commissioner Bud Selig convinced the teams to make the announcement on Tuesday (a World Series off day) and finalize the compensation to allow Epstein out of his last year as Red Sox GM at a later date.  After aiming “high” by asking for Starlin Castro and then Matt Garza, and then asking the Cubs to take on the remaining 3 years of John Lackey’s $82.5 contract, the Red Sox agreed to settle for “minor league prospects” as compensation. The Red Sox and Cubs spent a week haggling over players until they agreed upon a process to select the players to be traded from the Cubs to the Red Sox to complete the deal.  What is known is that the Cubs top 3 prospects – Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt and Matt Szczur will not be part of the deal.

The Cubs have scheduled a press conference for  Tuesday to make the announcement.  After the World Series ends, the Cubs will then announce that San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer will come to the Cubs to serve as GM under Epstein.  Padres Assistant GM Jason McLeod – a top scout under Epstein and  Hoyer with the Red Sox – will also re-unite with the duo in Chicago and serve as Assistant GM to Hoyer.

This is pretty incredible – the Cubs who have had one of the smallest baseball executive offices in all of baseball with GM Jim Hendry and Assistant GM Randy Bush will now become one of the premiere offices in all of baseball.  These guys all have a proven track record, so let’s hope that they can get it done on the North Side in the next few years.

Good work Tom – let’s hope we see some immediate improvement over the next few seasons…

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Is No News Good News – Still Waiting for Completion of Epstein Hire? – Wrigley Field 10/21/11

Posted on 21 October 2011 by Lou

We’re still waiting to hear that the Cubs and Red Sox have agreed upon the “compensation issue” to complete the Cubs hiring of Red Sox GM Theo Epstein as their new President of Baseball Operations.  We all thought it would be today – a World Series off-day – but it looks like it is going to drag on into next week.  We’re not sure if the teams have agreed upon the Cubs prospects to be dealt to the Red Sox in exchange for the Red Sox releasing Epstein from the final year of his contract and that those players are now undergoing physicals.  Or if the teams are still holding firm on who they want involved in the deal.  This is getting a little ridiculous.  Each side is losing bargaining position the longer this drags out, so they just need to get it done.

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has even offered his “services” to step in and mediate the compensation.  Gimme a break.

We do know that the deal will happen at some point this year.  No cash compensation will go to the Red Sox – it will be minor league prospects.

Following the confirmation of the Epstein hire, it is now even more clear that the Cubs will then hire San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer as the Cubs GM under Epstein.  And it has also been reported that Padres Assistant GM Jason McLeod will also come over from the Padres to the Cubs.  Hoyer served as Epstein’s Assistant GM with the Red Sox and McLeod served as a scout for the Red Sox during that tenure as well.

The last piece of the Red Sox puzzle could be whether or not Red Sox management allow Epstein to take special assistant Dave Finley with him to Chicago.  Epstein has a high regard and great working relationship with Finley and would like to bring him to Chicago.

We’ll keep you posted, but it looks like we’re heading into a 3rd week of negotiations…

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Cubs Set To Hire Theo Epstein as President & Jed Hoyer as GM – Wrigley Field 10/20/11

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Lou

The Cubs are set to hire Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations and then Jed Hoyer as General Manager.  Supposedly all the details have been agreed upon and now it’s just a matter of waiting for a World Series off-day for the teams to publicly make the announce on Friday.  Cash will not be part of the deal, but it looks like the Cubs will send one or more prospects to the Red Sox for the ability to hire Theo.  The prospects till not be any of the Cubs top prospects – Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt or Matt Szczur.

The Cubs will not owe any compensation to the San Diego Padres to hire their GM away from San Diego.  The Padres are ready to promote their senior VP of baseball operations Josh Byrnes into the role currently held by Hoyer.

Now it looks like Tom Ricketts got his main man and also pulled off another coup by landing Hoyer in the process as well.  The two-headed Epstein-Hoyer monster is sure to make Cubs fans very very happy.  I’m sure we’ll have a lot more to report on Friday morning – we’ll keep you posted…

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