Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein addressed the media via conference call (yo, Cubs – shoot a blogger a dial-in number next time) shortly after the Sean Marshall trade, which netted the Cubs young lefty starter Travis Wood, as well as outfield prospect Dave Sappelt, and infield prospect Ronald Torreyes, was finalized and announced. I’ll have more on Wood’s future with the Cubs, as well as more on the two prospects in the near future. For now, here’s what Epstein had to say on the three new members of the Cubs’ organization, on the loss of Sean Marshall, and on the possibility of dealing Matt Garza.

  • On the trade, in general: Theo called the move exemplary of what the organization is trying to do, and said that it fits with the “general direction” in which the team is moving. Namely, to turn short-term assets (Theo noted that Marshall could have walked away for nothing at the end of 2012) into long-term assets. “I don’t think we are done,” Epstein said of the move and ones that may follow. “I do think we still need to build more depth on the starting pitching front, both in the big leagues and minor leagues. But it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to make sacrifices. Just like moving Sean Marshall, who was certainly an asset for the 2012 club.”
  • On Travis Wood: “He caught the eye of a lot of people and a lot of clubs had interest in him,” Epstein said. “He’s a really athletic package. Very athletic, his arm works very well. More than enough velocity to succeed as a left-handed pitcher. Some days you can see him, he has 3 or 4 above-average pitches. Those are the ingredients you need to be successful as a starting pitcher.” Theo noted that, if Wood pitches like he did in 2010, the Cubs could have improved for 2012 in this move.
  • On Torreyes and Sappelt: Theo called the youngster Torreyes a good defender and baserunner, and added that “When you’re young for your level, and you’ve hit everywhere you’ve ever been, that’s a good sign.” Theo also joked about the last small second baseman he had, Dustin Pedroia. In general, Theo was excited to add some more depth to the farm system.
  • On losing Sean Marshall: Theo conceded that the bullpen was now weaker, and said that guys like James Russell will have to help fill the void. Theo also mentioned minor league lefties Scott Maine, John Gaub, and Jeff Beliveau (the latter of whom was the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2011).
  • On the possibility of now trading Matt Garza: Theo conceded that the Cubs will listen to offers on Garza, and anyone else. “There’s always an active trade market for starting pitchers,” Epstein said. “But we don’t take lightly what it means to have a top-of-the-rotation guy in the house …. It’s hard to find top-of-the-rotation guys, so if you have them, and if there’s way to keep them around, that’s always compelling for the club. With that said, we’ve been honest. We are in a mode where we have to listen on everybody. And if there’s a way to improve the long-term outlook for this club in a significant manner, we can’t look past opportunities.” To me, that’s another of Theo’s excellent coded messages, like what he said about Marshall being the best left-handed reliever in baseball. Here, Theo is saying: Garza is available, but he’s going to cost you plenty. The Cubs’ starting point in negotiations will absolutely be the kind of packages Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos recently netted, even if the Cubs cannot ultimately secure packages quite that good (Garza is probably the third most valuable of the three pitchers).
  • Theo left open the possibility of extending Matt Garza, instead of trading him, but that seems more like a matter of preserving leverage in trade talks than a sincere desire to extend Garza. “In the case of Matt Garza, perhaps nothing happens [in terms of a trade],” Epstein said, “or perhaps we can turn him into a long-term asset by extending him on a deal that makes sense for everybody.”
  • Mike F

    I think that’s the whole key, what’s the best thing for the organization and Garza. Levine has a great piece on all of this, it’s pretty much where I am. I thought about referencing some of it but people just need to to go to ESPN chicago and read it for themselves. He pretty much lays out the best option to trade him is Toronto and Theo would want 3 of their top 10 prospects all with upside and limited downside to start. But he also indicates they starting or near starting talks to extend Garza, it’s not an easy decision and no one really has offered what he’s worth. So it comes down to is anyone really going to pay the Cubs what Garza is worth and if not, do you move him to move him? But Brett I think you’re correct, in that do you move him for minor leaguers or younger players that have time and some track record or a combination of both, and how much time are willing to write off and how bad for how long do you want to be when talking about a mythical Cub Way.

    Theo at his press conference talked about the Walsh way. Both Walsh and Wolf are devotees to one of the great sports minds of our time- Al Davis. Davis hung on too long, but much could be learned from a young Al Davis. I want to say this and say it clearly. Any organization built or forestalling winning for a mythical future is a joke and let’s not kid ourselves. That doesn’t mean you have to sign the highest paid free agents, you have to worship drafts and anyone on a roster is untouchable. It means simply put, winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. And if you aren’t a winner, your ass needs to ship out. That’s what the great organizations have always been made of and always will be made of.

    So I contend, how they do it is irrelevant, but what is relevant is from today, July 1, 2012, 2013 this organization should be about making progress, but real on field progress and not about mythical progress about the clown at ESPN with hat that writes about keeping score on minor league organizations talks about, with all due respect to Kevin or about boom a ranging from what we got with Hendry. I think it’s intriguing all of this blow it up talks occurs just at the time Ricketts is on his Christmas special talking about how the Cubs can go from 70 wins to 90 wins. I would think, unless he’s nuts, if this Theo is about writing off two seasons let alone one Ricketts might have second thoughts.

    • KCubsfan

      I understand what you are saying and in another situtation I would agree, but this organization in disarray. The Cubs need to rebuild and it is going to take time because the Cubs top prospect are in the lower ranks. So, unless they planning on buying a championship (which they already stated they won’t) this will take 2 to 3 years to fix at the very least. As for Ricketts I am pretty sure he understand considering he has preaching building from within.

  • MightyBear

    Hey I just went to the Cubs website and looked at the depth chart and it has Garza, Dempster, Wood, Wells and Coleman as the five starters. Is this a message being sent to Zambrano? He’s on the 40 man roster. They don’t have him in the bullpen and they don’t have him in the rotation. Is this part of Theo’s steps that Z has to complete? He has to prove himself? Does anyone know? Weird.

  • MightyBear

    Did the Cubs sign Manny Corpas to a minor league deal? I don’t see him on the 40 man roster. I thought Brett stated he had a roster spot. I’m so confused.

    • Rob

      The deal hasn’t been made official yet. They may have agreed to a contract, but until there’s a press release, he won’t be on the 40 man roster.

    • Adventurecizin’ Justin

      MightyBear…I believe Corpas is receiving a major league deal…don’t know why he isn’t on the 40-man. I’ve always like Corpas’ stuff…what if this is a steal?

      As for Zambrano, I hope he is pitching for us in ’12…I wanna see what might happen with him playing for a new and more competent management. I don’t condone Z’s past actions, but he was playin’ for management that proved time and time again that it couldn’t adequately resolve conflict!! With Theo and Jed, I think Z could be a success story and build up his value. I also get the impression that Theo and Jed don’t like to sell low. So, why trade a still-talented Zambrano without workin’ with him first? IMO, Z needs to pitch again for the Cubs before we trade him. Otherwise, Theo and Jed have no power in any negotiations. That’s the Hendry way…I don’t think it is the Theo and Jed way. At least, I hope not!!

      Anyhow, I’ve become quite addicted to this site as a reader. As a fan of 32 years, I’ve never witnessed a strong, sustainable, logical, fundamental system. So, personally, I don’t really care about the 103 year drought…I just want to see it done right. Horse before the cart…and we may see IT happen!

      Thanks, Brett…I really enjoy your insights and hard work! Take care, All…Merry Christmas.

      • Brett

        Thanks, Justin. To you, as well.

      • Bluekoolaidaholic

        Excellent post, you took the words right off of of my fingers.
        thanks Justin

  • CubFanBob

    I dont know, I really feel the Cubs can shed some fat / rebuild at all levels and still compete in this division. I would keep Garza and extend him building the team around him as a solid 2 / semi number 1.

    • Adventurecizin’ Justin

      If we are gonna keep Garza, I’d like him extended immediately. But after what Theo & Jed did with Marshall, I wouldn’t mind seein’ what they could get for Garza! I could go either way, though.

      • Still Love the Cubs

        I actually say if you are going to sign him to an extension that you wait until just before next season to do it. I would want to wait and make sure that someone won’t swoop in at the last minute and give us a HUGE package for him just before the beginning of the season, or at the trade deadline if we are sellers.

        Can you imagine a world where CC gets hurt? It happened to Wainwright last year during spring training. There is no way that if that happened that the Yankees wouldn’t give up a few top guys for Garza at that time. If you have him signed to an extension, he is much less tradable commodity.

        Wait til you have to since you might get an unexpected suitor.

        • Kyle

          That’s kind of where I’m at. I see a guys like Kuroda and Edwin Jackson still out there, and I have to think that the market for starting pitching has settled just a little bit.

          If Hoyer doesn’t get an offer he likes, I’m comfortable waiting until midseason, when injuries and close pennant races can drive the market to a fervor.

        • Brett

          Great point. Of course, Garza could get injured as well (or pitch poorly), but with respect to the extension question, that only supports your point.

    • Toosh

      I also believe the Cubs can compete in the Central in 2012.

  • ferrets_bueller

    From Keith Law, on MLBTR, “The Reds, meanwhile, continue what I can only assume is a rapid emptying of their farm system to try to win again in the two years before Joey Votto reaches free agency,” he added.”

    Goddamn I love the sound of that.  Cardinals, please take note, and do likewise.

    • Toosh

      The Reds had their chance in 2010. It will continue to be downhill from there.

  • sue

    Somebody rent this guy a gorilla custume – his Gop spin is getting laughable. time will tell lil theo . why did you quit the redsox ? and more importantly why did they rehire you somebody had to do the dirty work for the Redsox President i guess. So far all your moves have not hurt the cubs but its fluff – The Chicago media will get tough enjoy the honeymoon because after Stewarts whiffs at Wrigley Field you will understand why the Rockies love you! after LaHair slowfooted bat swing fails to connect in chicago you will understand his journyman status in the minors , after Dejesus bats 255 and connects for a whopping 15 homeruns with 32 rbi you will understand . When these two cuban defectors you sign and never make the majors unless you order thier promotions you will understand .when travis plywood a flyball pitcher give up 5 homeruns to the reds and Marshall come in get a hold against the team u build you will understand. and what ever you do YOu better not sign prince for 10 or 8 or 7 or even 6 year cause then wow your really make the President of the redsox look smarter than he already is . LIL THEO IF YOUR REBUIDING METHODS is like what we have witness these past short 9 weeks . the only people that will love is white sox fans . This guy is no Dallas Green . we might have along five years cub fans……

    • Stinky Pete

      Have you met Sam, by chance?

    • Rick Vaughn

      sue makes me want to watch the movie Sling Blade. I just picture him/her talking just like Billy Bob all through that post.

      • Katie

        I like the way you talk, mmm hmmm. Now I’m gonna go eat me some of them french fried taters and mustard, mmm hmmmm.

  • Brian Peters

    What, exactly, did Dallas Green get us……um…….nothing, just like Andy macphail, and Jim Hendry.

    • BetterNews

      More than a AAA ballclub I’m afraid to say!