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Today, the Chicago Cubs will introduce their long-awaited savior President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. It’s been a long, frustrating road, so it’s easy to forget that, just a month and a half ago, no one would have believed this would be happening today.

The press conference starts at 11 a.m. CST, and I’ll be updating this post with salient points, bullet-style, as the press conference goes on. Enjoy the moment, friends. We’ve earned it.

  • Is it embarrassing to say that I’m physically buzzing with excitement? It’s not like there will be any revelations or surprises. But … I can’t help it – I’m like a kid on Christmas morning before his parents have cleared him to go downstairs and start ripping into presents.
  • Tom Ricketts is on first, discussing the priorities of the organization. The first, and most important goal from the beginning has been to win a World Series. “Today, we take a major step toward achieving that goal.”
  • “I cannot imagine a better person for this job than Theo Epstein.” Epstein is in charge of all things baseball, and will report directly to Ricketts, as expected.
  • Ricketts compliments Randy Bush and – eh hem – Crane Kenney. “Crane is an excellent baseball executive who worked very hard to put this deal together.”
  • Ricketts says he’s thrilled as a fan and as the team Chairman by the results of the search. Interesting that he’s discussing the “search,” which was always framed as the “GM search” in the past. No mention of Hoyer, though. Not that it’s a concern.
  • Theo speaks: “It truly feels great to be a Cub today.”
  • Theo starts by thanking Ricketts and Kenney – “I look forward to working with you on the business side.”
  • “I’d also like to thank Jim Hendry, whom I really admire … especially for staying on this Summer, and signing a really strong draft class … I hope I can demonstrate that same class and loyalty.”
  • Epstein thanks the Cubs fans, and says he hopes he can reward us with a successful tenure. He then thanks the Red Sox, and wishes them the best.
  • Epstein is going into the tradition and history of baseball, but it’s “best of all when you win.”
  • “I believe we can preserve the things that make the Cubs special … and build a solid foundation that delivers sustained success.” Boing.
  • Epstein is going into the plans for player development and scouting – it’s a clear focus, as it should be (and as was expected).
  • Epstein wants a progressive front office, and he plans to bring in “the best and brightest,” but he says he isn’t going to cast everyone currently in the front office aside. He’s really hammering the “foundation for sustained success” theme. Fine by me.
  • Paraphrase: We’ll be searching for that next, great competitive advantage through research and development. Boing.
  • I get the sense that Epstein clearly recognizes a short-term turnaround is not going to be possible, and he’s setting us up for that expectation: it will be a process.
  • Epstein drops “the Cubs way” bomb, which is a cornerstone of Ricketts’ vision. Epstein wants kids who join the organization to buy into what it is to be a Cub.
  • Bruce Levine gets the first question, and he asks about Mike Quade’s future. “Mike seems like a great guy and he’s developed a great reputation … and I look forward to sitting down with him in person … we’ll get together as a group and decide from there.”
  • Phil Rogers asks about the 2011 Cubs draft and the international spend, and Epstein notes that “we could tell what [the Cubs] were doing … they’re going for it.”
  • Jim Rose asks about Epstein’s time in Boston, and Epstein has nothing but positive things to say. But, as his Op Ed this morning said, he feels like it was time to move on. “This is certainly the ultimate challenge.”
  • Jon Greenberg asks the rebuilding question. Epstein says the plan is to build a foundation, but working on the Major League club is a parallel process. Every season is an opportunity to win. “It’s sacred.” The fans deserve a chance to win every year. Interesting.
  • Paraphrase: There are no shortcuts in baseball. The long haul is what it’s about.
  • Dave Kaplan asks about culture change. Epstein says there will be change in the front office, which includes the vision for the organization, and getting everyone to “buy in.” Epstein says “working hard” multiple times. Hmm.
  • The culture change is in the clubhouse, too. He talks about preparation, fitness, and that winning is the most important thing.
  • Rick Morrissey asks the first really lame question: “What makes you think you can be the person to do what no one has done in 100 years?” Epstein says it won’t be just him, and that, when faced with a similar challenge in Boston, he rallied the troops, and got everyone to buy into the organizational vision, and forget about external pressure. Good non-answer.
  • Pedro Gomez (“Hey, Pedro”) asks about the difference between the Red Sox roster when he took over and the Cubs’ roster now. Epstein says there’s a gap between where we are and where we want to be (glad he sees it, and is honest). He says it’ll take some hard work and creativity to get the team to contend in 2012, “but it can be done.” He justifies the position with some examples of teams who’ve been competitive on a quick turnaround, but, to my ear, it’s clear that he doesn’t expect a quick turnaround here.
  • Epstein is asked if he’ll be working on the compensation issue with the Red Sox. He avoids the question – “it will be addressed.” There’s a good relationship between the teams.
  • Barry Rozner asks Ricketts the “baseball guy to watch my baseball guy” question. Ricketts says he knew there was always going to have to be a guy in charge – “last year it was Jim, today it’s Theo.” Basically, he avoided the question. Fine by me.
  • Ricketts discusses the process for the search. It didn’t start with a list, it started with a review of the other 29 teams and other 29 systems. Who’s winning, who’s producing ML-ready players? That lead to a handful of teams to focus on. At the same time, Ricketts was talking to some big wigs in baseball about who he should be talking to, and all of that ran up until the end of the season. By then, it was clear that Theo was the right man for the job.
  • Theo is asked about the Cubs’ crappy defense. He says pitching and defense are important. Fundamental play is important. “The Cubs Way” includes expectations about defense. Shrug. Very corporate answer, but I’m not sure what else you can say at your introductory press conference.
  • Theo talks about his initial meetings with Tom, which were “five or six hours” of talking about baseball. Theo felt like they clicked. Theo got a commitment from Tom that he could grow the baseball operations department (finally), and Theo says there will be plenty of resources available to win.
  • Theo is asked about his Boston Globe Op Ed (did reporters just come up with their questions this morning?), and about his theory that after a period of time in one organization, it’s time to move on. “There’s plenty we can accomplish here in the next 10 years.”
  • Epstein is most proud of building a scouting and development “machine” in Boston, and then obviously winning the World Series and seeing the fans’ excitement. He sees that parallel here, and knows that winning a World Series would be deeply impactful.
  • Ricketts indicates that Epstein was clearly his top option – paraphrase: before I moved on to the more realistic part of my list, I knew I had to check with Theo first.
  • Sahadev Sharma asks Theo how he’ll implement his statistical vision on both the player side and the front office side. Epstein notes the importance of both numbers and scouting, and kind of rambles from there. Nothing concrete.
  • Epstein has a policy of not commenting on player payroll because he believes being secretive about that creates an advantage (or at least, doesn’t put them at a disadvantage). There will be plenty of resources, he says, but those resources could go to the draft, amateur scouting, etc., not just player payroll. Good to know.
  • Epstein says he’s a purist when it comes to the game, so he loves coming to Wrigley Field after being at Fenway Park. The renovations at Fenway generated revenues, improved the fan experience, and allowed us to use those revenues to improve the organization. It also had a tremendous impact on the city (wow, talk about “on message;” well done, Mr. Epstein).
  • Epstein discusses the “prime age” of baseball players, and although the roster will be diverse, the goal is to focus on having as many “prime” players – hopefully homegrown – as possible. Vets play an important role, though. But you pay for future performance, not past performance (not a shot against Jim Hendry, explicitly, but it sure could be used as one).
  • Epstein confirms, unasked, that it was indeed him at that Starbucks. He did it with a joke, and it played very well. Nicely done, Mr. Epstein.
  • Epstein’s only concerns in taking the job were related to his happiness with the Red Sox in Boston. But, he still felt like it was time for a change. And the more he learned about the Cubs and the Ricketts, the more interested he was.
  • He talks about coming home from school and watching the Cubs on WGN in the afternoon – that’s how I became a Cubs fan! *swoon*
  • Wow – Epstein talks about “limbo” between jobs in Boston and Chicago, and how he felt like the character in ‘Office Space,’ (“That’s my stapler”) working in the basement each day he went to the office in Boston. That was a joke made here by a reader last week. That’s funny.
  • “I came here to help the Cubs win. I didn’t come here for a title.” He means the “President” title, not, like, a World Series title.
  • Press conference over.
  • Unsurprisingly, Epstein was just as billed: smart, funny, smooth, and with great things to say. His demeanor was very businesslike – very much like Tom Ricketts, I must say – and not overly affected. A small part of me wishes he had a little more enthusiasm, but I think that’s just not his bag at functions like this.
  • The fact that no one even asked about the GM position tells me that reporters were told in advance that the subject would not be discussed. Other subjects not discussed: Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano (he would have dodged them anyway), his Carmine statistical tool (that he built in Boston), and the state/quality of the Cubs’ farm system at present.
  • The reporters in attendance pounced on Theo as soon as the presser ended, so I’m sure there will be many more quotes and issues discussed in upcoming news articles. The one drawback of being a non-journalist, Mom ‘n Pop blogger? I’m not there to ask any of these questions or participate in the non-presser part going on right now. 363 days out of the year, I wouldn’t want to be a beat writer. Days like today (and the day of the Hendry presser) are about the only time I pause. Speaking of which, I didn’t hear any questions from Paul Sullivan, Gordon Wittenmyer or Carrie Muskat. What’s up with that?
  • Buck

    Hope springs eternal, especially for us Cubs fans, but today is a great day to have something actually tangible to hitch that idea to. I look back now on the past couple of decades and outside of ’99 and ’04 (due to the previous year’s success) I have no idea why in the hell I had that warm, fuzzy feeling every opening day of thinking that this was definitely going to be our year. I guess it’s an inherit belief and a natural optimism or hope as a human being to have something to believe in but when I take a step back now and look at it I can’t believe I had so much optimism every year in an organization that was basically sticking gum in the holes on the side of our Titanic. Kudos to TR for not taking advantage of our blind optimism like so many others did or would and actually creating a plan and a vision for a WINNER. I was all about Friedman when this process started, but had I known Theo AND Hoyer were an option I’m pretty sure we all would have been aboard that train from the jump. It’s a great day to be a Cubs fan and I’m happy that, for once, I’m not thinking about “Next Year” but about “Several Years” once “the foundation for sustained success” is installed over the next couple years. My eternal Cubs faith will always be there but I’m thrilled today to actually see that hope, not just blindly feel it. Welcome to our Cubs, Theo!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well said, Buck.

      I’m really digging the “foundation for sustained success” theme, too. Not sure I could have crafted the message better myself if I were just trying to say what I wanted to hear. Because that’s exactly what I wanted to hear.

  • cmr

    is there a link to a feed of the conference? i was at work and missed it. pleeeeeease? csnchicago.com isn’t working.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sadly, I haven’t found one yet. Sometimes media companies just don’t understand when they’ve got coin in their pocket. Put up the video, folks – people want to see it!

  • LARRY

    Did Theo say whether it was he at Starbucks?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes.

      (It’s in the post, but probably easily lost – that’s the most bullets in a post ever.)

      • hansman1982

        This is definately not short but incredibly informative…

        A microcosm of the presser?

      • LARRY

        Thanks, I missed it.  I take it that you don’t have “credentials”, so you couldn’t ask questions, but were you allowed access to an extend more than John Q. Public, since you are a blogger?  If you have already answered that, I apologize in advance.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Nope – I am completely and totally without any kind of access whatsoever. The Cubs have historically been one of the most blogger-unfriendly organizations in baseball (which, as a sport, is incredibly blogger-unfriendly). The only access I have is through sources and Twitter. To be honest, it’s not a terrible setup – gives me a fair bit more freedom to say what I truly think/feel here.

          • jstraw

            And you can work naked.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              That was also true when I was lawyering, though.

  • johnbres2

    HIs comments made it sound to me like Q-ball will still be somewhere in the organization next year. Why else would Theo care about Q’s “vision”?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s just something you say. I didn’t get the same impression as you. I think Epstein was diplomatic, business-like, and responded in the appropriate way when discussing an employee currently under contract.

      I still don’t doubt that Quade’s a goner.

  • Fishin Phil

    I think I fainted for a little while, I have to go get some coffee.

     

    BTW,   SQUEEEEEEALLLL!!!!

  • die hard

    Enjoy your hangovers tomorrow….. too bad cause this hasnt changed one thing….yeeesh!

    • Bails17

      I retract my previous “Cookies” statement!  And I second Hardtops suggestion of nearly naked attractive women!!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I think we’re retiring the cookies thing, tempting as it may be.

        • Bails17

          I guess I missed the memo.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            You did. Shame on you.

            (It’s not a big thing, but it just kind of felt like, in the words of the new boss, “it was time to move on.”)

            • hansman1982

              well you see when the cookies reach a tan color that is when you pull them out – wait to long and you have ruined everything that you have spent the last 15 minutes working towards

              last one on and last one off the cookie boat

        • hardtop

          May I reiterate my proposed solution. at one time, pictures of attractive women forced die hard’s departure from the the friendly confines of bleacher nation. i suggest that super-hot, nearly naked women posted here daily, will surely lead to his/her permanent absence. let the porn begin….

    • Wilbur

      Diehard, only three things would explain your consistent perspective:
      1. You’re Brett’s evil twin.
      2. You actually live in Superman’s bizarro world where (for those of you to young to read comics in the 60’s) society is ruled by the Bizarro Code which states “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!”
      3. You are a clever straw man Brett inserts to stimulate conversation.

      • Internet Random

        4.  He’s a lame troll.

  • CUB5

    Welcome to the North Side Mr. Epstein. I hope you remember your “you pay for future performance, not past performance” when you are signing big contracts. He said all the right things and I can’t wait to see if they can get Wrigley renovated. Next season is looking up, even if it’s a rebuilding one. Just get Quade out of here. He has no business being with the club after this year, and Ryno can have a season or two of low expectations to learn while they rebuild.

  • Cliffy

    Cherrington being very complementary of Theo during his presser.

    • hardtop

      good. hopefully his respect and gratitude for theo will be reflected in the compensation negotiations. Theo leaving Boston opened the door for his promotion… pretty hard to gouge a guy, and his team, for handing you the reigns to the second biggest market in baseball. Both guys got the promotion they were after: compensation should be a couple low level prospects… whom ive never heard of, end of story.

  • Levo

    The one answer that sparked my interest was about prime age being 26-32. So maybe i’m wrong but I took that they wouldn’t even pursue Pujols due to age. Would anyone else take that? Granted, after this run that St Louis had I truely do not see him leaving (but i’d sure wish he would go somewhere else)…..but that was just my take on what Theo said.

    So will you have a booth at Cubs convention? I’d love to meet you.

    • Jason

      My gut tells me that we won’t sign either 1B this offseason. No reason to spend the money when you won’t win in 2012 anyway. Every decision that Epstein makes will likely be geared toward fielding a competitive team by 2013 or 2014.

      In general though, he may be weary of signing Pujols due to the fact that he is nearly past his prime. Then again, Pujols’ non-prime years will likely be better than most players prime years – unfortunately, he’ll want to get paid for his prime year production with his new contract.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No booth, but I’ll be there – just a fan among fans. We’ll have to plan a get-together for BN folks. Maybe one of the evenings. I’ll post about it some time before the Convention so we can figure it out.

  • die hard

    only news of merit coming out of news conf is Cubs of 2012 will resemble Abbott and Costello routine:

    First Base: Who
    Second Base: What
    Third Base: I Don’t Know
    Left field: Why
    Center field: Because
    Pitcher: Tomorrow
    Catcher: Today
    Shortstop: I Don’t Care/I Don’t Give a Darn/I Don’t Give a Damn

    • Cbrock

      Just go away.

      • jfish1219

        here here…we really need a block function

  • Ron Swanson

    Wow, both of them went out of there way to support Crane Kenney. Guess the “reports” have been exaggerated.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Probably. But, keep in mind, if Kenney is currently deeply involved in discussions with local officials about getting public funds for Wrigley, the Cubs are bound to support Kenney for now.

      By the way, given Theo’s clearly pointed comments about Fenway, I think it’s pretty obvious the Cubs are working on getting public money as we speak. Theo was on message.

  • JulioZuleta

    Carrie Muskat doesn’t ask questions; she answers them (er dodges them) in her random, useless, inbox on cubs.com. I know you guys defend her a lot, and I get your points, but I often read the White Sox inbox from their beat reporter (I think it’s still one of the Merkin boys) and he does a much better job and does as much as he can to stay away from the meaningless, stock answers.

    • TWC

      Did you say “merkin”, Julio?

      • JulioZuleta

        …yeahhh, why?

        • TWC
        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Oh Julio you never TWC give an explanation

          • TWC

            Gimmie an inch, I’ll take a … well … I’ll do something with it.

            • JulioZuleta

              Haha, wow. Very interesting. And by the way, Scott Merkin is still the Sox beat reporter.

              • TWC

                Did you say “merkin” again, Julio?

                • JulioZuleta

                  I don’t believe so…

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      I agree, I used to go there for Cubs info…then i found Bleacher Nation and Twitter.

      • jstraw

        What part of Kansas are you in?

        • Kansas Cubs Fan

          Wichita.What about you?

          • TWC

            Please tell me that jstraw’s from Wichita, too. That would make my day. It would probably make my day if anyone even understood that reference anymore.

            • Kansas Cubs Fan

              What reference?

              • CCunt

                Jack Straw from Wichita, duh

                • Diesel

                  Isn’t Wichita the hot chick from Zombieland?

                  • Kansas Cubs Fan

                    Haha yeah.

                • Kansas Cubs Fan

                  Okay I looked it up and its a grateful dead song,sorry but I’m 19 and have never listened to grateful dead

                  • TWC

                    Hippie.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Kansas, yes, but I’m not sure about Wichita.

  • Jiujitsu411420

    Cards lose last night! Theo introduced today! This is by far my happiest day in 2011 related to baseball. Now if only texas can clinch in Stl and send them whining birds fans home devastated it will cap off a great week!

  • Hawkeye

    I vote we go ahead and reject any compensation offer that involves us taking Lackey…

    http://espn.go.com/boston/mlb/story/_/id/7148697/boston-red-sox-john-lackey-tommy-john-surgery

  • Toosh

    I apologize to the fan who saw Epstein at Starbucks on Yom Kippur. I did not believe you. I am sorry.

  • jarrod

    Have you heard anything on what day and time hoyers press confrence will be?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It will be between the end of the WS and Monday, so I guess, either Thursday, Friday, or Monday. Some of that is rumor-based, but it’s a good guess.

      • CCunt

        I think ESPNChicago was saying that Hoyer would be introduced on Monday

  • curt

    im sure others caught this but i loved that theo said that def fundamentals will be taught the same way from top 2 bottom including the majors so when they get to wrigley they already know how to do these things( exhibit A soriano,ramirez,) maybe players dogging it will end not all did this but when yr paid excessive amounts of money you could at least hustle a new culture how bout we start with quit singing after a win, act like youve done it before and can do it again, quit throwing balls back after opponents homeruns . thats it for the rant part id like 2 nominate bob brenly for manager who knows them better and wont tolerate b.s. from players

    • Internet Random

      I wonder if curt’s IP matches die hard’s?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Nah. And Curt’s been around for a long time.

  • MrCub73

    Does anyone besides me have a feeling that Francona may be Theo’s top target if the Cubs do (when) replace Quade? Theo made a couple references to Francona in the press conference and all seemed rather positive. Recently the Boston media acted like Theo did not have Francona’s back. This is just a thought, but if you are Theo and have a real good idea you are leaving for the Cubs, are you going to push hard to keep Francona in Boston if you might want to bring him to Chicago? I am just looking at it in the way I might look at this if I had been in Theo’s shoes. Had I known I was leaving (I am sure there was contact before and at least back channel communication before the official hiring) and had a thought of taking Francona with me, I would have not wanted the Red Sox to pick up the option on Francona. Theo did say if Francona was coming back, he may have stayed in Boston. Theo also said the GM and manager must have a very good working relationship, another reason he gave for leaving Boston now, so Ben can pick his manager. To me that is just another confirmation that Quade will not be back. I can clearly see why Theo would want Quades take on the Cubs before dismissing him, Quade can give him a ton of insight to the Current Cubs roster. I know everyone assumes Quade is gone and Sandberg gets the talke, but what about Francona being manager and Sandberg as a coach?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hard to tell. Some reports had the two on the outs by the end, some say they were still close.

  • Curt

    Nope I’m no diehard,I believe in the cubs and Theo it’s just refreshing to see that a lot of things that should have happened years ago are finally going to happen it’s great to b a cub fan and go freakin rangers

  • Sweetjamesjones

    Brett,

    Seriously, we need a official T-Shirt made for this site. It should have the “Bleachernation.com” logo on the front and then a very cool catch phrase on the back. The catch phrase should be a couple of a submits voted on by the community.

    I know that i am not the only one who would purchase a shirt from you. Duh. I’m willing to pay for a shirt that would help you sustain this site (of course meaning you and your family) and of course rep this fucking awesome site.

    Brett, you are the man, the myth, and legend that has brought us all together, it’s time for us to do this big and make bleachernation.com a big thing.

    Just saying.’

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m in, and do want to do it. I’ll probably have to put up a post to solicit input on a design.

  • Sweetjamesjones

    And yes, if there was a t-shirt made by you that had a photoshopled picture of “the Quade” as pinhead from “Hellraiser,” well, I would buy that shit. End of story.

  • John Durbin

    Brett,

    If we want official shirts, give me a few ideas and i can shoot them off to my brother who was a top art student and graphic designer in college and he makes T-Shirts and some other crazy stuff.. He would gladly put something together for our BN fans/bloggers!

    On the other note Carpenter is looking solid again in the bullpen in Arizona and again will probably get another rising stars game appearence. Hope we can find a more permanent spot for him in the bullpen this spring.

    Again great coverage on the hole press conference…. I was unable to watch it since the Navy said i couldnt go home for lunch to watch it. (not happy about that!). I feel like i got a great idea of how it went and with your insight it made it easier to see what point either Ricketts or Theo was trying to get across….

    And if we do plan on having some get together for the BN guys. Please try and give me a couple weeks heads up so i can plan ahead and get up to Chicago from Virginia Beach… i think that would be a great expierence and a great time to meet up with you and some of the other guys that have a good and interesting view on the cubs organization and cubs issues.

    Keep up the great work Brett. Look forward to a busy off-season. And look forward to hearing everyones opinions as we try to get the “foundation for sustained success” off the ground and running!

    GO Cubs!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, John. If/when I toss out the t-shirt thing to readers for suggestions, I’ll hit you up for assistance in designing them (and anyone else who wants to take a crack at doing the design). I also have a friend (who is an occasional reader) who could try it, as well.

      I’d say there’s a fair chance at least a handful of us will meet up at the Convention. Beyond that, I’m getting my ducks in a row for an early season (mid-April, not quite Opening Day) meet-up. Very early in the process.

  • Katie

    I’d love to do a meet up. Maybe get a group to an I Cubs game too?

    • Hawkeye

      I agree Brett.   Once this T-Shirt thing takes off, you will be a rich man and we can get you over here to Des Moines and head to an I-Cubs game.  I am sure we could get a group together big enough to warrent the trip over.

      Also, count me in for a T-Shirt.

  • John Durbin

    I am down for all of the above… just need a little more notice since im on the east coast so i can make the trip to Chicago or to Iowa for a game or whatever!

    SSSSSSQQQQQQUUUUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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