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The press conference introducing the Chicago Cubs’ new President of Baseball Operations wasn’t the only source of Theo Epstein goodness yesterday. From there, Epstein took a whirlwind tour of various media – from breakout sessions with the local beat reporters, to an appearance on Chicago Tribune Live, to a Five Good Minutes with the guys of Pardon the Interruption.

Among the many highlights:

  • Epstein reiterated that, before deciding on Mike Quade’s future as manager, he needs to “get to know Mike Quade better …. I had a great conversation with him on the phone. We’re going to get together over the next week. We need to sit down. I need to get a little bit of a ‘debrief.'” My guess is ‘Eppy’ finds Quade to be a pleasant enough guy – a grizzled baseball vet, even – but, ultimately, an unsuitable manager for this team.
  • Without naming names, Epstein addressed the vacant general manager position: “If we bring in someone as a general manager, it will be because there’s someone who I think is one of the best and one of the brightest in the game and someone who can make a real impact on the Cubs.” Jed Hoyer is blushing.
  • Epstein added: “Eventually we will [hire a GM], but we’re looking for the right people. Obviously there’s some scuttlebutt going on right now about things that are happening. I can’t comment on that. But I think it was important to develop a structure that allowed for the hiring of a GM if we got the right person.” Best part of all of that? Theo Epstein says “scuttlebutt.” Dig it.
  • “I don’t believe in curses, and I guess I played a small part in proving they don’t exist from a baseball standpoint,” Epstein said. “I do believe you can be honest and upfront about the fact that a certain organization hasn’t gotten the job done and hasn’t won a World Series in a long time. That’s the approach we took in Boston. It wasn’t a curse, it’s just that we hadn’t gotten the job done.”
  • Epstein tried not to discuss any specific players – internal or external – but did offer some thoughts on the subject. On the internal side, Epstein noted that “player decisions and the ones that involve options after the World Series, we’ll be sitting down with the staff and talking about those in the next couple days.” Ryan Dempster holds a $14 million player option for 2012, and wants to speak with the new men in charge before making his decision. The Cubs hold a team option on Aramis Ramirez for $16 million, which Ramirez can then void if he so chooses (which he has said he will). If the Cubs don’t pick up the option, they owe him $2 million as a buyout. Theo, you’re new. Let me help you. Pick up the option.
  • Further addressing internal players, Epstein was asked on CTL about the Carlos Zambrano situation, in light of the Cubs’ lack of starting pitching. “You said it yourself, this is a team that needs pitching,” Epstein said. “To be the organization we want to be, we’re going to need pitching. He’s got talent. Obviously things haven’t gone the way he would have liked or the organization would have liked the last few years …. I need to get to the bottom of [the situation]. I think the best organizations get the most out of their players, even the ones that might be harder to get the most out of it. But the best organizations also know when it’s time to move on.”
  • Epstein went into Bryan LaHair in great detail, to the joy of the various LaHair fans out there. “I have a soft spot for guys who hit everywhere they’ve ever been – hit, hit, hit and continue to hit,” Epstein said. “There’s this myth about the 4-A hitter. Guys who perform all the way up the minor leagues, dominate triple-A, get a cup of coffee, they hit a buck-fifty in the big leagues, and everybody labels them a 4-A hitter. The reality is, I’m not so sure there is something called a 4-A hitter. It’s just pretty good major league hitter who never got an opportunity …. [LaHair is] an asset. We’ll have to take a deeper look .… There’s more to this game, especially in the National League, than just swinging the bat. We’ll dig deeper on that one. But, look, we’re looking for assets. We’re going to scratch and claw and do everything in our power — in the draft, internationally, small trades, waiver claims. We need to build assets because we don’t have enough of them. We’re not going to look past one that might be sitting right there in our organization.” I’m not sure LaHair will ever be a productive Major Leaguer, but that’s the attitude you want the guy in charge to have.
  • Epstein was asked if Ricketts had given him authority to release unproductive, but expensive, players like Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano. “Yeah, I believe so … I know so,” Epstein said. “It’s also a sign of a good organization to understand the concept of a sunk cost, and to move on. Understand sometimes you’re gaining by saying goodbye, when it is time to move on.” More kudos to Tom Ricketts on that one.
  • On external players – the two most notable being Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder – Epstein said, “I think the impact free agent, the free agent who requires the long-term substantial commitment, there’s a time and a place for that type of investment. I think it’s important to understand when the right time is. It’s also important to understand the player. The player has to check every single box that you look for. He has to be an impact player offensively, you’d like him to be an impact player defensively. In an ideal world, you’d love for him to be an up-the-middle player. You’d love for him to be a player of high character who you can put your faith in and will represent the organization well over the years. You want to make sure the player is young, so you’re buying a lot of prime years. There will be a time and place for that.” Tea-leaving suggests Epstein isn’t gaga over Pujols or Fielder for the Cubs.
  • That picture to the upper right, by the way: is that not the most excellent piece of Theo porn yet? I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a happily married man.
  • On PTI, Epstein finally got the Bartman question (“Should the Cubs reach out to him and do what the Red Sox did with Bill Buckner?”), and his response was surprisingly earnest. “I haven’t talked to anyone here at the Cubs about that, but from afar, it seems like it would be an important step, maybe a cathartic moment that would allow people to move forward together. I’m all about having an open mind, an open heart and forgiveness. I think those are good characteristics for an organization to have as well. Look, he’s a Cubs fan. That’s the most important thing. We need to come together as an organization, the fans, the ownership, the front office, the players, everybody, if we’re going to get this thing done. I’m sure it’s something that will come up at the right time.” That’s all fine, I suppose. I’d rather just let sleeping dogs lie, for now.
  • Epstein was asked about Carmine, the statistical program, built by Epstein, which helped the Red Sox make various transaction decisions and scout players.  “We developed in Boston a program that was simply an information management system,” Epstein said. “Every team in baseball has an information management system of some form or another. With the Cubs, we’re in the process of sitting down and seeing what they have. Information is everything. In the Draft, for example, information is the single most important currency.” Dollars to – eh hem – donuts, Epstein doesn’t find a particularly sophisticated or helpful model already in place.
  • Epstein noted that, when you “succeed” in baseball, that simply means you’re making the right move 55% of the time. I love that this guy gets that baseball is won at the margins. Mistakes will happen. But the moral is to put yourself in the best possible position to succeed each year – a “foundation for sustained success,” to parrot yesterday’s theme.
  • Terry Francona’s departure from Boston may have hastened Epstein’s own. Epstein said he’d been planning on moving on after 2012, when his contract expired, but when Francona “quit,” and the Red Sox were in the market for a new manager, Epstein felt it was best that the new GM (Ben Cherington) be in place to make that decision. And, in a shocking (if slightly unnerving) bit of candor, Epstein admitted that, if Francona hadn’t “quit,” Epstein would probably still be in Boston today.
  • As a way of introducing himself to his new front office-mates, and to get to know them better, at lunch on Monday Epstein asked each in attendance to sing his or her college’s fight song, before singing Yale’s, himself. Kind of seems like a way of reminding everyone, “Hey. I went to Yale.” I’m sure it was all in good fun.
  • Epstein explained how the Starbucks incident went down, and it sounds pretty much like what was guess by a few of us here. “When I’m somewhere where I don’t want to be recognized, and someone recognizes me, I have a couple standard lines,” Epstein said. “I usually say, ‘Oh no, that’s not me, but I guess I look like him,’ or I say, ‘Theo Epstein? Who’s that?’ I was so excited to be in Chicago and so surprised to be recognized that I dropped both lines on this guy without stopping to think they really don’t work well in concert with each other.”
  • And what would a tour of Wrigley Field be without an introduction to, sigh, Ronnie Woo Woo (h/t TFB):

  • Fishin Phil

    Great bunch of bullets!

    My favorite is #7. Not so much as it applies to LaHair, but as a philosophy.  I’m still squealing baby!

    • jstraw

      His statements about Lahair send a message to a couple of agents.

      • Fishin Phil

        Hopefully to some players as well.

  • Fishin Phil

    The other thing that he mentioned yesterday that got me excited was the concept of “The Cub Way” and teaching the same philosophy and and fundamentals throughout the entire system.  I have long thought this was missing in the organization.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      A comment on that, because many, many sources are touting that.

      “The Cubs Way” thing came from Ricketts. He discussed it, I believe, last offseason, complete with the manual idea. I like it, too, very much – but I think the credit should be going to Ricketts, not Epstein.

    • Bails17

      A great model on that Phil would be the Twins….they have it figured out organization wide on what the Twins way is.  IF we can get as good at what they do with OUR payroll…we will be there at the end of the year almost all the time.

  • Cliffy

    Epstein will be on WSCR live at 820 today.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Excellent. Thanks, as always, Cliffy.

      In case you hadn’t noticed, Cliffy is quickly becoming the site’s resource officer.

      • JulioZuleta

        Much appreciated Cliffy. Whenever you give us a tip like that, I picture Brett walking into his Bleacher Nation office and you sitting at the reception desk reminding him of all of his appointments or meetings.

      • Cliffy

        I love the minutae talk.

  • jstraw

    Ronnie Woo-Woo needs an endorsement contract for the new-for-2012 Chicago Cubs ball gag.

    • Internet Random

      Ronnie Woo Woo is one of the few things that I would change about a trip to Wrigley.  He’s a nice guy, but, damn, is he ever annoying.

      • JulioZuleta

        The sound of him haunts my dreams. Whenever I sit in the bleachers and leave my seat, my girlfriend comes with me because last year, twice when I got up for 2 minutes, he sat down next to her and got creepy. Note to all Cub fans who drink a few too many before the game DO NOT LET RONNIE WOO WOO TALK YOU INTO BUYING HIM A TICKET.

        • Internet Random

          The staff frequently lets him in free.

    • Dan0mite

      Who the Frak is Ronnie Woo Woo and how or why is he well known?

      • Internet Random

        He’s the black guy in the Cub’s uniform shrieking, “Theo! Woo!”, in the video above.  He’s at most every home game, shrieking “Woo! Woo!” incessantly.

        • Dan0mite

          I got that much. But who is he in relation to the Cubs? Is he simply a guy that shows up to games and is annoying? Is he known only for his annoying demeanor?

          • Internet Random

            He’s a quirk of the neighborhood whom the Cubs don’t seem too eager to discourage.  He is simply a guy who shows up at games and is annoying.  And, so far as I know, he’s known almost exclusively for making the extremely grating woo-woo noises… that, and I guess, being a loyal fan.  You can hardly go to a game at Wrigley and not see the guy… especially once you’re on the lookout for him.

            It’s kind of like not being able to ignore Yoko Ono on a John Lennon track once somebody points out that she’s on there.  Now that you know about Ronnie Woo Woo, you’ll see him every time you go.

          • Laura

            There’s a documentary about him called “WooLife”. As a teenager, I thought he was a little too ‘flirty’, also. Then I found out his background. I was actually happy to see him at a game last summer. He’s still a flirt, but harmless, and I definitely recommend getting to know about his life.
            (FYI his birthday is Halloween…) http://woolife.com/streetwise.htm

  • hansman1982

    I loved the Starbucks incident because that sounds like something I would do and it reminds you that Theo really isnt much different than any of us…well outside of the fact that at 28 he was the GM of a MLB team and I am a poor schlep in a cubicle…

  • gblan014

    “That picture to the upper right, by the way: is that not the most excellent piece of Theo porn yet? I have to keep reminding myself that I’m a happily married man.”

    Haha. Touché Mr. Taylor. Touché.

  • Edwin

    Color me impressed.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    On the Score now – Epstein was very gracious when discussing Woo Woo. He’s too kind.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Theo (advertently or inadvertently?) uses the line, “the beauty is in the details.” Not the devil?

    • Ron

      It worked for the Tampa Bay Rays.

  • EQ76

    Is it tea-leaving or tea leafing?  I really don’t know.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hmm. It should probably be tea leafing, but I think it’s not really either of them – to my knowledge, I just invented the gerund version of the tea leaves (other than saying, “reading the tea leaves,” obviously).

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Talking about using video to study the arm action of pitchers who stay healthy to try and figure out how to keep pitchers in the future healthy. Love that.

    • Bails17

      That is a huge issue even in youth players Brett…..we do the same thing at my baseball academy for high school kids.  Just go back and look at the arm action of Mark Prior….video could have really helped him.

    • hansman1982

      I think they also need to study and develop an arm strengthening program for pitchers as well…

      There was a prospect in the draft this year (name escapes me) who wouldn’t go to certain teams because they didn’t believe in long-toss.  His thinking was that the arm isn’t a fragile piece of china but a muscle and like any other muscle it needs to be developed and strengthened so that arm injuries don’t happen.  ESPN The Mag did an article about him and it will be interesting to see his career.

      Some people are leery of Cashner being a starter again because of his arm injury this year…that was after 1 start.  Strasburg didn’t get injured because of pitch counts but because of a funky delivery.  My point, there is more into avoiding pitcher arm injuries than pitch counts.

      • Bails17

        The guys name is Trevor Bauer….he was drafted out of UCLA as the number 4 pick.  He worked out for years with a guy by the name of Ron Wolforth at the Texas Baseball Ranch.  At the Ranch…they use video as a tool to identify what they call inefficiencies in a pitchers arm action that would put undo pressure on the shoulder or elbow.

        They also believe in throwing long once or twice a week.  To give you an example….if you can throw long toss 350 feet…that equals 90 mph.  Bauer could get out there to 380 – 390 feet.  And he told several teams that he interviewed with that if he couldn’t do HIS (Ron Wolforth’s) workout…he would not sign with them.

        If you are a junkie…check out this link.  We use all of Wolforth’s stuff at our baseball academy here in Indiana.  The guy is as close to a pitching guru that I know.

        http://www.texasbaseballranch.com/?gclid=CNeG-cq-hqwCFZAAQAod-xKjCA

        • Bails17

          And here is a guy breaking down Mark Priors arm action.  He is right about a lot of what he says (he uses different terminology than I do)…but you can notice the inverted W in his pre-release.  That is the same thing Strasburg does and the same reason he has issues.

          http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/PitchingMechanics101/Essays/MarkPriorPitchingMechanics.html

          • hansman1982

            In it he talks about Prior stiffening his leading knee and that could cause some stress on the arm.  If you want to see an extreme example of this look at McNutt’s delivery.  I didn’t want him to go to Boston until I saw the delivery (I just tried searching FanGraphs for it again with no luck) and the Red Sox can have him.

            I am not a pitching expert by anymeans but the finish of his delivery is just incredibly awkward and he all but locks his front knee.  Just screams injury to me.

            Also, I heard a guy once describe why Strasburg got injured.  He broke it down to that with the Inverted W the pitcher will use his arms to put power into the ball and not his body.  Reading this article that reinforces that to me.

            • Bails17

              Hansman…that is where is disagree with this guy.  Almost every pitcher who throws hard does this…Lincecum, Lee, CC…all the good ones.  The one thing he doesn’t really touch on is the deceleration of the arm.  Most guys who have decel issues will not bend at the trunk, stop rotating around their hip, or will recoil their arm.  To look at a perfect decel….look at Cliff Lee….look at a bad decel (or scary to me) look at Verlander.

              • hansman1982

                and that may be, it is just that McNutts finish is so herky jerky it makes Marmol look fluid and smooth

            • JulioZuleta

              Again, why would the inverted W not just be called an M

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Damn – dude makes a practice of throwing home run-distance balls? I knew he did “long toss,” but I had no idea it was that long.

          (That’s what she said.)

          • Bails17

            Very impressive right!  (Again..what she said).  He also throws every single day…no days off and no long distance running AT ALL!  Their whole philosophy is to train the body to be explosive…and all training sessions where the body in moving slow is training the body to move slow.  When all his fellow pitchers were running poles or distance at UCLA…he would run sprints or do interval training.  Very interesting stuff.

            • Internet Random

              Their whole philosophy is to train the body to be explosive…and all training sessions where the body in moving slow is training the body to move slow.

              While I don’t doubt the effectiveness of their methods overall, this is almost certainly bunk.  Way too many lightning fast boxers (among others) have made long, slow distance training part of their programs.

              Besides, this line of thinking leads to the conclusion that sleeping is training your body not to move at all… and almost every study that’s ever looked at it shows that, up to a point (and it’s higher than you’d think), more sleep is better for athletic performance.

              • Bails17

                IR….I don’t doubt that boxers use long distance along with their speed and explosiveness drills.  Boxers need a base of both speed and cardio in what they do.  They are moving and exploding for a 3 minute period and become tired and out of breath easily.  When is the last time you saw a pitcher out of breath?   Running the bases?  Maybe.

                Do you see Olympic sprinters doing long distance training?  No.  So why would baseballs equivalent to a sprinter do any distance training?  In fact…think about this…over 99% of the plays that happen in baseball are under 12 seconds long.

                Nolan Ryan has implemented a similar training methodology in Texas and they has turned that pitching staff around in a very short time.

                • Internet Random

                  I didn’t say whether Olympic sprinters do long-distance training.  I didn’t say any certain pitcher should do distance training.

                  You stated their philosophy as, “all training sessions where the body i[s] moving slow is training the body to move slow.”

                  I said that’s crap, and I gave boxers as an example of the crapiness.  For all their long, slow distance training, most boxers are anything but slow. If training sessions where the body is moving slowly trained the body to move slowly, then this would not be true.

                  Saying that widgets won’t make you slow, is not the same thing as saying that everybody needs widgets.

                   

                  • hansman1982

                    I think there is something lost in the translation between the article and here.

                    In the article he states that in reviewing MLB plays they only last a few seconds so he trains his body to be explosive in short bursts.  He also trains for endurance because of the long season but the focus is short bursts so his body is used to and prepared for the quick starts and stops where most injuries occur.

                    • Internet Random

                      I think there is something lost in the translation between the article and here.

                      That might be. I haven’t read it. I’m responding to the comments here.

                  • Bails17

                    IR….Just because boxers are mostly quick…does not mean that long distance training doesn’t train the body to move slow.  And your so called “crapiness” comment was said with out knowledge or common sense.  Boxing and pitching are so different.

                    I have never trained as or trained a boxer….but I am guessing that for every hour they spend running long distance…they spend 5 or more hours punching, lifting, sprinting, jumping rope, and several other explosive drills.  They are most certainly using the distance training to build up their cardiovascular system which is obviously important for a boxer.  While ALL THE OTHER exercises are training the body to explode and move faster.

                    So don’t sit here and say it’s crappy when you seriously have no idea what you are talking about.

                    • Internet Random

                      I could be wrong.  Sometimes I am.  Please do me the courtesy, however, of explaining how exactly I’m wrong.  Just saying that I “seriously have no idea what [I'm] talking about” and that I’ve spoken “with out [sic] knowledge or common sense [sic]” is lazy at best.

                      You say that boxing and pitching are “so different”, and I suppose that they are different.  Lots of things are different, but the distinctions are frequently not important. White cars are different from black cars, but the color alone doesn’t affect the value too much does it? So why would some long, slow distance (LSD) training make pitchers slow and not make boxers slow?

                      But before you answer that, answer this: If LSD training is so detrimental to pitchers, how did Nolan Ryan avoid this terrible fate? He is well known to have spent plenty of time on an exercise bike doing aerobic training. Why did all of this time doing aerobic work not make him move slow?

                      Also, note that I never said that everybody needs LSD training. I’m guessing that, like most things in the training world, programs ought to be designed for pitchers based on individual assessments.  One-size-fits-all approaches have a way of not fitting everybody all that well.

                      Also—and please read this part very carefully—I’m not saying that pitchers should not get most of their training in explosive/speed/plyometric modes.  I’m saying that the notion that LSD training is “training the body to move slow” is bunk.

                    • JulioZuleta

                      I think Vida Blue did the LSD…

                    • TWC

                      Man, I did an awful lot of LSD training about 10 years ago.  The benefits are FABULOUS.  Highly recommended.

                    • Internet Random

                      I was expecting Darryl Strawberry.

                      There’s a good account out there somewhere of two or three MLB players dosing during a game.  I can’t remember if it was acid or something else, but it was a funny read… and supposedly true.

                    • TWC

                      Dock Ellis’ no hitter, June 1970.

                      Great video on this:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vUhSYLRw14

                    • Bails17

                      IR…Your point is taken…however…just do a little research on what Nolan Ryan’s workout was.  He lifted weights and implemented an arm strengthening and flexibility program for himself.  He did not run long distances…he merely rode the exercise bike the day that he started while he iced his arm.  He thought that it would help the lactic acid removal from his legs and throwing arm.  This is not true as it takes a much longer sustained exercise to have any lactic acid build up in your muscles then a pitching delivery can provide.

                      He ran long distance for a short time in his career…I believe it was when with the Astros.  He stated (I heard him speak live in 2009, so this is right out of the horses mouth) that he could notice his FB velo was being affected…so he stopped all distance running and his velo climbed back to normal.  So…he has implemented LESS distance running for pitchers with the Rangers and more sprint work.

                      Also…look up the 2 different type of muscle fibers in the human body.  Slow twitch…and Fast Twitch.  There is too much information out there to type…but the bottom line is that training to run long distance/slow paced exercises…trains your body to do just that.  It does have to be a prolonged period of time before you will see significant drop in explosiveness…but it does happen.  Usually it will take 45-60 days of training for a noticeable difference.

                      I have attended conferences and listened to several experts on this very subject along with doing plenty of research myself.  So I will tell you that laziness had nothing to do with my prior statement.

                    • Internet Random

                      @TWC:  That was awesome.

                    • Internet Random

                      @Bails17:

                      I’m glad that you’ve attended conferences and done research. I really am. But know that you’re not the only person who has looked into this subject. I’ve been following exercise physiology for about 20 years… long enough to watch many things come in and out of fashion… things like people shitting on LSD training for the last five years or so… despite the fact that many, many athletes for many, many years had great results from LSD training.

                      I don’t disagree with most of what you say.  For example, I think that for most pitchers, most of the time, speed/explosive/plyometric work should be the focus of their program.

                      What I do disagree with is the notion that LSD training makes you move slow, and I’ve shown very clearly that, that is patently false.

                      And don’t believe everything that you hear at conferences and seminars. (Even if you could, which you can’t… not if you’re thinking… too much of what you hear conflicts to all be true.)

                    • Bails17

                      @IR…I gotcha….nothing was LAZY about what I was saying.  There is some research out there that states steady/continual LSD training can affect the way some of your fast twitch muscle fibers function.

                      I tend to believe more that pitchers should do mostly all high intensity type training.  Mostly because it does train your body to explode.  And any time you are training opposite of your goal….you are losing time you could be training toward your goal.  I think the LSD training is great for a ton of athletes out there….just not all athletes or all sports.  You just have to soak all this stuff up and formulate your own opinion.  This is mine…it just makes a lot of sense to me.

                      And for the record…I never said that LSD training makes you move slow….just slower than your maximum potential.

                    • Internet Random

                      You might have meant to say “slower than your maximum potential”, but that’s not what you said. Again, you stated their philosophy as, “all training sessions where the body i[s] moving slow is training the body to move slow.”

                      And any time you are training opposite of your goal….you are losing time you could be training toward your goal.

                      I see what you’re driving at, but that’s not exactly true. (I’m sure that you’re familiar with the concepts of overtraining and overreaching.) I think it’s more accurate to say that, if you spend too much time training LSD, then you won’t be able to train enough on your explosive work. And when phrased like that, I’d agree. Again, Nolan Ryan did plenty of aerobic work; he just didn’t do so much that it interfered with other (probably more important) modes of training.

                      And, again, saying that I “seriously have no idea what [I'm] talking about” and that I’ve spoken “with out [sic] knowledge or common sense [sic]” is lazy at best.  What I mean by that is a person does not make the effort to state how or where they think somebody else is wrong with statements like that. The nicest way for me to interpret that is that you were being too lazy to state your criticisms with particularity. (I’ve done this myself. Sometimes you just don’t feel like spelling everything out. So I understand it, but it’s still lazy.) Other explanations require implying that you’re either stupid (i.e., you really think such statements are a valid attack on what I’ve said) or intellectually dishonest (you’re hoping that I and anyone else who reads such general, dismissive accusations will accept what you’re saying on faith and/or hoping to distract from actual statements made). And you don’t strike me as stupid or intellectually dishonest… so I gave you the benefit of the doubt and went with lazy.

                    • Laura

                      TWC: Dock Ellis video is hilarious, brought smiles to a dreary blizzard day here in Nowheresville.

                    • TWC

                      Nowheresville?  We’re neighbors!

                      Oh, wait, you don’t have an ocean next door.  And we don’t have blizzards.  Or snow.  In fact, it’s pretty much within 15° of 55° for 355 days a year.

                      Glad you enjoyed it, though!

    • Robbo

      They might need to adjust their video settings…The entire Red Sox staff was hurt this last year and now Lackey is out for all of 2012. Maybe Carmine was on the fritz that day they signed Lackey.

       

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Can I nominate Theo for pitching coach?

  • Cliffy

    I reading between the lines with Theo just a hunch he goes young rather than free agents. Duh.. but i also think he will seek out speed guys. Speed does not concern themselves with if the wind is blowing in or out.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “Speed doesn’t slump.” – Dusty Baker.

      • hansman1982

        “I disagree” – Alfonso Soriano

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      The Cubs system has some speed guys for him. Castro is up already, Lake has 30+ steal speed, Jackson can steal 20+, even LeMahieu has 8 steals in the AFL this year (didn’t really peg him as a steals guy…).

      I could easily imagine next season’s Cubs having more steals than home runs. Matt Szczur is further down the system, as is Evan Crawford and Zeke DeVoss.

      Toss in some very patient hitters (LaHair) or extremely good contact hitters (Castro, LeMahieu, Vitters), and it is not hard to imagine a revamped Cub offense built on the steal, the hit and run, and manufacturing runs.

  • CubFan Paul

    “In an ideal world, you’d love for him to be an up-the-middle player” hmmm

    • jstraw

      That’s a curious statement. Where do big bats usually play? Can you rely on home-growing guys that hit for power? Sometimes a team really is a piece or two away and it’s often a guy that drives in runs that’s needed. Those guys are rarely up-the-middle guys.

      • hansman1982

        I get from that statement that The Epster would love to have the 3,4,5 hitters be the SS, 2B, CF and be home-grown so that they are cheap and then you aren’t overpaying for the Fielder/Pujols types of the world.

        • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

          Catcher is also considered ‘up the middle’ by most baseball people.

      • Jason

        I’ll respectfully disagree. A baseball player’s contribution to winning can’t be defined in terms of absolute numbers – they have to be defined as their numbers relative to other players at the same position. As a result, middle infielders, catchers and centerfielders who can hit while still playing strong defense are a great way to extract significant incremental value because there are so many middle of the diamond players who can’t hit but that have to play because they can play the defense required at those positions. Look at the best teams in baseball – all of them have guys up the middle that can hit while still playing great defense

        Yankees: Cano, Granderson
        RedSox: Pedroia, Ellsbury
        Phillies: Utley, Rollins
        Rangers: Kinsler, Hamilton
        Tigers: Avila, Peralta (don’t laugh – his numbers made him an elite SS this year)
        Brewers: Weeks

        The only playoff team that did not have an impact bat up the middle was the Cardinals.

        For a specific example, according to Fangraphs, Dustin Pedroia was a more valuable player than Ryan Braun this year even though Braun put up far superior statistical numbers. Why? Because lots of leftfielders can hit (since it’s considered a relatively easy defensive position to play, you have to be able to hit to play there) while very few 2B can hit.

        Another example:
        As a 2B, Dustin Pedroia posted a WAR of 8.0 this year – the league average 2B (Robert Andino) had a WAR of 1.8. That’s a difference of 6.2 wins
        At 1B, Miguel Cabrera led with 7.3 WAR this year – Mark Trumbo was 15th at 2.3. That’s a difference of 5.0 wins so having the best 2B and the league average 1B is 1.2 wins better than having the best 1B and the league average 2B.

        Also, Ryan Howard posted 33 HRs and 116 RBI this year – he was the 17th rated 1B according to WAR. Offensive numbers are not difficult to find at 1B because everyone has to hit to play there.

        Sorry for the length of the post – just had to fit a lot of information here to make my point.

        • Hawkeye

          “The only playoff team that did not have an impact bat up the middle was the Cardinals.”

          Excuse me, are you serious?   Apparently you don’t think to highly of one, Ryan Theriot?  ;)

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            Cardinals got the wrong end of the Cajun Connection. Fontenot was “Little Babe Ruth.”

          • Jason

            Unfortunately, Sabermetricians have yet to find a way to value scrappiness. Maybe that’s one of the new competitive advantages that Theo will try to exploit? :)

            • Hawkeye

              If we don’t have a way to evaluate scrappiness, we may have seen our last days with Campana?

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    “The marketplace is very efficient now,” so finding the competitive advantage is more difficult. That’s why the focus is so much on development.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Theo says once again that the money you spend in the draft is the most important money you spend. “Most bang for your buck.”

    Love that.

  • Cliffy

    In case you cant get enough Theo he will be on AM 1000 at 9 AM.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Let the guy get to work, already!

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Theo likes a manager to have an “inherent authority” about them. Not necessarily pounding fists. Theo also wants the manager to recognize that you can’t treat all players equally, because that’s not the world we live in now. Interesting, given that treating players unequally was one of the greatest gripes we’ve had about Quade.

  • Dan0mite

    “Yeah, I believe so … I know so,”

    This line, especially the way Theo delivered it, tells me him and Ricketts have already discussed the possibility of dumping some players.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yup. Agreed.

    • wax_eagle

      I’d guess it was part of the contract negotiations.

      Ricketts: “Hey what do you need from us”
      Theo: “Permission to take out the trash from the roster”
      Ricketts: “That’s it?”
      Theo: “Well that and 20mil..”
      Ricketts: “Done”

  • Mom’s A Cubs Fan

    Is Theo packing up Quade’s stuff for him? He can bring it when he and Mike meet face to face and Mike doesn’t come back.

  • Cliffy

    Theo talking about Castro, cutting him slack on defense very impressed with his offense at his age. Im betting the “Theo System” will allow Castro to become the superstar we all hope he can be. They will surround him with the right tutors and players to make that happen.

    • Jason

      This is a great idea and one I figured he’d pursue – Castro needs to learn how to play defense so we need to bring in a coach who can teach him. Teaching Castro to be a great defensive SS should be one of this organization’s top priorities for 2012.

  • http://TheoWaiting Cheryl

    Any further word on compensation? From what was said earlier McNutt is probably a part of it now. Ryno may be here for other reasons but there will probaly be some contact with Theo.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haven’t heard anything more on compensation (save for the fact that Theo and Ben will work it out). Where did you hear that about McNutt?

      And, yeah, the Sandberg thing will be mentioned in an upcoming bullet, but, since he has a home here, I didn’t think it was worth a whole lot of fuss.

      • http://TheoWaiting Cheryl

        Haven’t heard anything about McNutt but was thinking that with the earlier discussion about possible injuries that he might be under consideration for compensation.

  • cccubfan

    Glad to have Theo on board and look forward to a bright future. As for my feelings of Steve Bartman throwing out a first pitch, I say opening day 2012 would be great. Put it ALL behind us and let’s get this thing rolling along smoothly. To really top of the day let Moises Alou catch that pitch.Let by-gones be by-gones….This is officially my personal plea to you Steve Bartman. Come to Wrigley and let’s all get together and say forget what was and go with what is….Come on Steve, Moises…..please!!!!!

    • Hawkeye

      That would be a beautiful thing…

    • Deer

      Bartman can throw out the 1st pitch after we win a world series. Pretty sure that’s what Boston did with Buckner. If Bartman throws out the first pitch next season, guaranteed the man will get booed off the mound and will still need an escort out of the stadium. Hell, Cub fans still boo Corey Patterson just because.

  • die hard

    If Theo can negotiate the compensation issue by talking Boston into Soriano, Zambrano, and Ramirez provided Cubs pick up 90% of salaries, Id say hes done his job. By the way, I think we should decline Ramirez’s option because if we exercise then he could decide to stay. Whats $2 mil at this point?

  • bacboris

    This line, “We’re going to scratch and claw and do everything in our power — in the draft, internationally, small trades, waiver claims.” Made me dream in a way that I haven’t as a Cubs fan in a long time.

    • cccubfan

      That’s not a bad thing. If we exercise the option and he stays we have a third baseman for another year until someone good comes available, maybe. If he declines we save 2 mil for someone else….

  • Toosh

    “Value” is exactly why Epstein should decline to pick up Ramirez’ option. If he offers to pick up the option, and Ramirez changes his mind AGAIN and decides to stay, the Cubs are stuck with a third baseman who doesn’t play defense at all and doesn’t hit until June. Just say no, Theo.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Is that small risk worth a guaranteed $2 million? The Cubs will need a 3B either way, and, to me, the risk of $14 million (the amount over the buyout) for a guy who’s worth almost that much is worth trying to save $2 million when all signs point to Ramirez voiding the option.

      Just say yes, Theo.

      • JulioZuleta

        Yeah, leak some fake offers from other teams “Ramirez will get an offer in the range of 4 years 54 million….” and then pick up his option.

      • Toosh

        Ramirez is not worth $16 million. Decline the option and offer arbitration. If he accepts, he’s signed. Let the arbitrator decide his worth.

        • JulioZuleta

          I’m somewhat torn…but leaning to picking it up. There’s no way he would accept it and even if he did, he could be good trade bait at the deadline. There’s no way he would accept it though, this is probably his last chance at a 3-4 year deal. Save the 2 mil, pick it up and let him shoot it down.

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

            He has 10/5 rights so his trading strength would be disminished as its was last year.

            • JulioZuleta

              When the Cubs are 20-55 at the All Star break, I don’t think he will want to be around. I think he would want to get to a playoff contended and perform well to help his value. But, it will be irrelevant, he wont pick up the option.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          You do that, and you’ll end up paying just about $16 million anyway if he accepts ($2 million buyout, and $14 million in arb – he made $14.6 million last year, and produced well; he’d get about that much in arb). You’re risking the $2 million for nothing. I’m sorry, I just can’t agree.

          • Toosh

            If he accepts arbitration and it gets to the arbitrator, the Cubs can submit a figure reflecting a 20% (the max allowed) cut from his 2011 salary of $14.6 million. That would be an offer of $11.68 million. Ramirez’ agent can submit whatever he thinks is fair. The arbitrator can’t split the difference. He has to choose one amount or the other. If I’m the Cubs, I decline Ramirez’ option and offer arbitration. If he wants to test free agency, let him. If he accepts arbitration, let the arbitrator decide his worth for one year.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              We’ll agree to disagree – in my opinion, there is no chance an arbitrator would select a 20% reduction for Ramirez after a year where he was arguably the best offensive 3B in baseball. It just wouldn’t happen.

              So, under your plan, the Cubs risk Ramirez asking the arbitrator for, let’s say, $15 million (a small raise over last year’s $14.6 million), him winning, and them being out $17 million (after paying the $2 million buyout). I don’t see any upside. Like, at all.

              Just pick the option, and you’re in the same spot for less money – either Ramirez wants to say, and you’re out a total of $16 million, or he wants to leave and you get a draft pick (because you can STILL offer arbitration after picking up the option and him voiding). Decline the option, and you could be out just $16 million, but it could be more. Why risk it for the very same outcome?

    • Shawn

      Do the Cubs have to pick up the option to receive a compensatory pick?

      • JulioZuleta

        Unfortunately, he’s a type B free agent, so the compensatory pick wouldn’t be a good one.

        • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

          Not necessarily. Type B picks come in the sandwich round. For a team willing to go for tough signs and guys demanding over-slot money, that’s still a pretty lucrative pick. It’s not as nice as getting someone else’s first round pick, but I wouldn’t say the pick won’t be a good one.

          That assumes that there is no hard slotting in the new CBA; I don’t think there will be, but that may be wishful thinking.

          • Kansas Cubs Fan

            Do you guys remember how many first and “sandwich round” picks the Rays had last year, It was ridiculous almost unfair.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Keep in mind – pick 30 is a “first round” pick. Pick 31 is a “supplemental round” pick.

            Also keep in mind, only picks 16 through 30 are available as Type A compensation (if a team with a top 15 pick signs your guy, you get that team’s *second* rounder).

            The real value in having a Type A versus Type B is two picks versus one. The first round part is sort of, eh.

            • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

              Exactly. In some situations that Type A guy can result in a second round pick anyway.

              While I don’t expect hard slotting in the new CBA, I do expect some sort of refinement to prevent the kind of stockpiling the Rays pulled off in the 2011 draft. I’m not sure what form it will take, but I don’t see anyone pulling off that kind of a haul again.

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