Theo Epstein Speaks About the CBA, Matt Garza, Fielder/Pujols Rumors, Sean Marshall’s Role, and More

Together with the introduction of his first signing as Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein spoke to the media on a wide range of subjects. Among the notable subjects discussed:

  • On the Cubs’ plan to build from within through drafting and scouting, in the face of a CBA that greatly restricts their ability to spend freely on the amateur side: “We are still processing [how the CBA impacts the strategy]. We look at it as how it’s going to impact our drafting strategy, how we build our scouting department and international scouting department. I think there are still ways to get very aggressive in the new system. I think the new rules make it more of a scouting contest.” Good thing the Cubs started beefing up in the scouting area. Epstein would not concede that the changes would alter the Cubs’ plans for free agency.
  • On rumors about the Cubs pursuing big names like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder: There are always going to be things said about the Cubs, because we are a big-market club, and there’s a lot of interest. We are thrilled about that. That’s a reflection of the passion, the fans [and the media] have. If there’s something going on and we just made a trade, you guys are going to talk about that. That’s good for us. [But when] there’s not much going on, and information is not readily available, there’s going to be more speculation. That’s fine. That comes with the territory, but I can only be truthful with you in outlining what our approach is. No. 1 is to build this thing the right way. That’s for the long haul, mainly through scouting and player development through the acquisition of young players. The second thing is to take advantage of every opportunity that you have. That’s short-term for us. That means building the 2012 club, hopefully the smart way, maximize our chances of winning. So we are not going to do anything to serve the second priority that disrupts the first.” That’s all fine, but let’s be clear: Epstein is not going to openly concede a pursuit of a big-time free agent right now, because that can only hurt the Cubs.
  • On the Cubs’ biggest needs this Winter: “We need starting pitching. You can’t take your chances very seriously as a club if you go into a season with not just five guys you can point to but six, seven, eight guys. You better know who your ninth starter is going to be because you’re going to need him. The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter through the course of the year.” Obviously, after a year in which the Cubs lost two of their top five starting pitchers in the first week of the season (and a year in which the starters were, on the whole, terrible), the need for pitching is clear.
  • Speaking of pitching, Epstein called Matt Garza “exactly the type of guy we’d like to build around.” But, at the same time, he acknowledges the need to “be honest about where you are as an organization and when your opportunity to really win comes.” In other words (that is to say, my words): yes, he’d consider trading Garza in the right deal.
  • On the importance of next week’s Winter Meetings: “It’s one of the few times that all 30 clubs are actively engaged in talking trade, which is nice. There’s a perception out there that the job of a GM or club president is always on the phone with the 29 other clubs talking about trades and it really doesn’t happen that often. You have to seize those opportunities at the GM meetings, at the Winter Meetings.” Jed Hoyer recently said the same thing. Sounds like the Cubs will be extremely active next week – which doesn’t necessarily mean moves will happen, but they’re sure be working on it.
  • On Sean Marshall’s role in the bullpen, versus in the rotation: “If you have the best left-handed reliever in baseball, it’s hard to think about taking him out of that role.”
  • Similarly, on the starting/relieving chances of Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija: Epstein said only that they’re both valuable pieces for next year, that he was encouraged by Cashner’s time in the AFL (which was limited, only in relief, and not overly impressive, I should say), and that Samardzija had a great second half last year. On Samardzjia, Epstein said next year will be a big year for Samardzija.
  • On impact of David DeJesus signing on Brett Jackson: Epstein said Jackson is “the type of guy we want here and he’s got a bright future here,” but he’s not sure of the impact quite yet. He did note that some guys need more “finishing” time in AAA. I suspect Epstein simply doesn’t want to tip his hand on the plans for the outfield in case he isn’t, for example, able to move Alfonso Soriano.
  • Epstein also said that he’s impressed with the developing facility in the Dominican Republic, as well as the scouts down there. He sees it as a big strength in the organization.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

43 responses to “Theo Epstein Speaks About the CBA, Matt Garza, Fielder/Pujols Rumors, Sean Marshall’s Role, and More”

  1. Jack Nugent

    Re: a Matt Garza trade– If it goes down, 1) it better be for some pretty damn good prospects and 2) the centerpiece of the deal better not be a pitching prospect. Finding pitchers who can give you 200 innings is not easy. The odds of any pitching prospect turning into one are inherently low. In Garza, the Cubs already have one, and we’re talking 200 potentially very good innings.

    A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. If the Cubs trade Garza, at the very least it better be for a very good prospect who’s destined to play everyday.

  2. kubphan82

    Anyone else itching for the next move? I don’t like waiting for Christmas! I’m glad we go into the Winter Meetings with one FA in tow, but could we please open ONE MORE before? I’ll take a medium-sized box, in the shape of a SP….

    1. Toosh

      I’m with you. I know moves can be made any time and there’s no hurry, but I like to see moves early in the offseason. I do like the DeJesus signing.

      1. CubFan Paul

        the Orioles and Angels both trade for not so great catchers ..Soto has to be the next catcher that comes off the market ~trade of free agency

  3. Mike Foster

    Trading Garza is stupid. He needed a few runs last, that’s all.

    1. Trent

      When we talk about trading Garza I don’t think it’s not a knock on him. If anything, it’s praise. Garza is a fantastic pitcher and his stock is extremely high right now. If you can trade him for a few ML ready pieces that’ll help the club you have to think about it.

    2. Kyle

      They aren’t talking about trading him because they don’t like him. They are talking about trading him because they think they can get a humongous haul for a guy who is only under control for two more years.

      1. JasonB

        Exactly.

  4. Morgan

    I say the Cubs trade Marmol to the dbacks for Ryan Roberts and Jarrod Parker, maybe throw in Baker to get it done. Gives us young pitcher and 3rd baseman for future

    1. Oswego Chris

      I think we would all like that deal…unfortunately JJ Putz had 45 saves, a 2.12 ERA and has another year left on his contract., so I don’t see them wanting Marmol…I am sorry Morgan…I am not trying to be the Cynical Not Gonna Happen Trade Cop….but I doubt that happens

  5. Mike F

    I think you can title that pc a lonely indian on a cliff sending smoke signals to nowhere. He didn’t tell us anything which is exactly what a brilliant GM would do.

    Every team in baseball wants to add pitching so what’s the shock there. The least damaging to the Cubs long term future is to sign it, pure and simple, but as in the case of MB half of the ML is looking to do the same so, given one of the most anemic offenses at present, a small bark park when the wind blows out, and the perception currently we are rebuilding, it’s pack a lunch or overpay. Trading for pitching is going to be hard and no I wouldn’t want to trade Garza at the moment. But all of that is obvious.

    What isn’t as obvious is I think to a large extent we are stuck in concept of the Cubs being a mid market or small market club. I think there is the problem. The Cubs are one of the bigger market clubs and I think we need to think more Yankees. The Yankees do both. I think we can do both to, especially given where we are. In fact, if we do it right, we can be both free agent players and minor league developers hand in hand like the Yankees. Hendry’s downfall wasn’t as much free agency as some of his trading, and a lot of his minor league focus.

    So I think in order for the Cubs to do what they want, refurbish an antiquated venue, build a world class model, we and the community need a different mindset which is exactly why Ricketts was set on Theo. And yes, I think Theo is looking at it all and saying a lot while telling us absolutely nothing. I think they are looking to be major players in the next 3 weeks across the boards and we will lag merrily behind and with mouths hanging open. Just a view no disrespect to us or the media, but Theo is to some extent playing with us. I like it a lot.

    1. nonesuch

      “What isn’t as obvious is I think to a large extent we are stuck in concept of the Cubs being a mid market or small market club. I think there is the problem. The Cubs are one of the bigger market clubs and I think we need to think more Yankees. The Yankees do both. I think we can do both to”

      word.

      1. Pat

        Except the Yankees have significantly more revenue and do not have to commit 30 million a year to debt service, plus maybe another 20 a year to principal, assuming they actually want to pay off the loans in the next 30 years. The Cubs are not in the same ball park as New York or Boston. Maybe Philly, but again, they don’t have the debt payments.

        1. nonesuch

          The main point is the Cubs are big market. Philly is a good comparison. Tom Ricketts said the franchise should model itself after Boston. Personally, I couldn’t care less about the Ricketts’ balance sheets, if they couldn’t afford to make it run properly, they shouldn’t have bought it. The Cubs brand is a pretty safe investment long-term. We as fans deserve owners who will make the commitments that need to be made and TR has been demonstrating that so far.

          1. EQ76

            amen!

  6. Lou Cub

    With Theo saying that Marshall is the best lefty set up man in baseball, does that mean that he’s not getting moved or is he increasing his value even more.??? I’m convinced that Marshall, Marmol, Garza, Soto and Byrd would be able to get us back top level prospects to revamp the major league roster nicely..

    1. JasonB

      I’d say it’s a combination of both – I do think Marshall could get moved for the right package, just like anyone else on the roster

    2. die hard

      Unless Cubs have 5 starters with enough stuff to give a quality start 4 out of 5 starts, cannot trade Marshall if plan to contend in 2012

  7. Michael Cerami

    I heard the Cubs are getting Brian Roberts and jake peavey ;)

  8. die hard

    From his comments, looks like Z given one more life. Quick as a cat when calling out a mate, Big Z’s ninth life may turn out great.

    Mark Prior, recharge your cell phone as these desperate Cubs may be calling you too.

  9. MoneyBoy

    From the day TR introduced Theo my impression has been this is a VERY polished, highly intelligent & educated guy with a great vocabulary and a politician’s gift of “saying a lot without saying anything.”

    (god help me for saying this) Think Jerry Krause with an MBA !!!

    The DeJesus move and (if it happens) the Capuano move are “bridge” moves … short term buys that allows the team to get better AND allows the farm system to mature.

    @ Mike F … Well said !!!

    1. die hard

      That Kool-aid goes down better with Vodka

      1. JulioZuleta

        You just confirmed something that I think a lot of us have suspected for quite some time now…

        1. Sweetjamesjones

          “He is a bigger buzz kill than buzz-killington.”

          “Let me tell you a story about a bridge.”

          1. MC2

            It’s easier to think that way for some…Listen…

            “Zambrano took that ball off his face on purpose to decrease his value and negate any trades the Cubs could have made on him!”

            See how easy it is, no wonder it flows like lava from his lips!

        2. die hard

          not so fast sherlock…gave up one when gave up the other in 1969…guess you are wrong again..thats ok…effects of too much kool-aid include delusions and ghosts..careful on your intake

  10. Ramy16

    Reports on MLB traderumors.com the Brewers offered Prince 6/120mil

    1. die hard

      If smart, he will take it because hes not worth that much…Pujols worth less and if offered same by Cards he should jump too….sooner the better so Cubs can on with building a good team from bottom up

  11. Morgan

    Well is there is a way to get Ryan Roberts off the dbacks and to the Cubs we shud do it, he would help change the culture and is a team player, would be perfect fit at 3rd base

  12. BetterNews

    Theo comments—Sean Marshall, I agree is one of the best, you do NOT move him, the
    “NEW CBA” is being hyped “exponentially, do we really need nine starting pitchers and where are they coming from? And yes, Theo did imply Garza is “untouchable” as I have said many times.

    1. dob2812

      For a team to contend, it really does need eight or nine starters on Opening Day. Theo’s Boston teams consistently did this, and still there were years that everyone got injured and they struggled. Now the 2012 Cubs won’t necessarily need that many guys because they likely won’t be contending but it’s good to see the FO looking to move in that direction. Never hurts to have some spare guys in July/August either, just in case anyone’s shopping on the cheap and feeling a little foolish vis-a-vis their own assets at the same time.

      And he emphatically did not say that Garza was “untouchable”. I don’t know why you keep pushing this angle, BetterNews.

      1. BetterNews

        Again, where are these nine pitchers coming from? We are not even sure who the first three are! Also, while Theo did not come right out and say Garza will “not” be moved, you have to read between the lines sometimes.

      2. BetterNews

        And I’m getting tired about hearing the word “Boston”. Seems like everybody knows more about Boston than Chicago these days.

  13. john

    Keep Trade Throw away
    Castro Soto Soriano
    Garza Marmol Zambrano

  14. john

    The Cubs are a Major market team as such you lock up Garza, Castro, Fielder
    Add Dejesus Cespedes Work in Jackson We need 3rd (Castro?) SS (Barney?)
    2nd (K. Johnson?) 1st (Fielder?)
    There are plenty of pitchers in the market. Especially Closers
    Get a year out of Dempster and Zambrano while searching for SP help
    1 Garza 2 Dempster 3 Zambrano 4 Wells 5 Cashner
    6 Mcnutt 7 Jeff Z 8 Darvish 9 Capuano

  15. john

    The door is open Brewers at 6/120 lock Fielder up 5/125

  16. john

    Major League ready? Like Jake Fox or Tyler Colvin or Felix Pie?