The Chicago Cubs just wrapped up their (brief and belated) organizational meetings, and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein met with the media yesterday, discussing a variety of topics.
- On Starlin Castro: Epstein doesn’t expect the offseason sexual assault allegation to be a distraction for Castro, whom Epstein expects will report to camp on time this week. On the legal situation, Epstein says that Castro has been cooperative, but no one wants to speculate on an outcome. ‘‘It’s too sensitive an issue,” Epstein said. “I don’t want to speculate. What we said at the convention stands. There’s a lot of concern about it, and our players have a responsibility to conduct themselves in the right way off the field as well as on the field.’’
- To that end, the Cubs will be bringing in experts from Northeastern University to talk to players about handling themselves off the field. ‘‘I think sometimes we take for granted these young kids, because they’re great at what they do on the field, that they know how to handle all the tough circumstances on and off the field,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘We coach them on the field and expect them to just make great decisions off the field. We need to give them great coaching off the field and give them the tools to make the right decisions.” Particularly with a younger team, the players could probably use some help adjusting to life in the big leagues, in the spotlight, and with money.
- On “The Cubs’ Way,” which is an actual manual that players and coaches throughout the system will be getting: “You can’t figure this game out. There are things that we learn every year that we’ll make modifications to our teaching approach, so the manual will continue to evolve …. You can’t sum it up in one or two sentences. Everything there is about the game, how we’re going to approach it the same way as an organization from the Dominican Summer League to A ball, Double-A, Triple-A and up to the big leagues. Playing hard is a big part of it. Playing the game the right way and teaching it consistently is important …. ‘The Cubs’ Way’ really boils down to the people – the players, obviously, but everyone, all the scouts and all the people in uniform in the Minor Leagues and the big leagues. For us to teach the game the right way, it’s more than words on the page. It comes down to how deep we dig to get connected to players to teach the game the right way, how much we care, how committed we are, how hard we work. There’s a lot that goes into this and building an organization.” That all sounds great to me, and, frankly, I can’t understand how this is a “new” thing.
- On Spring Training and the Cubs’ 2012 season, for which Epstein said the goal is to win the World Series: “This is what we’re all here for, is to play the game on the field. Sometimes the winter can stretch on and you forget what you’re doing for a living, and you feel like an accountant or something. We’re real happy to hear the crack of the bat and get together under the same roof and get this thing started.” Ditto, Theo.
- On ‘Moneyball,’ of which Theo is clearly not a fan: “‘Moneyball’ has become a loaded term. That’s not exactly what we do. I wasn’t a huge fan when certain proprietary information was made available to the public in the first place [in the book]. Instead of a handful of clubs knowing certain things, in a year or two, 30 clubs knew it. It’s not my cup of tea. It sounds like they made a really good movie and a lot of people were entertained, and that’s terrific. But it’s baseball time, not movie time.” I’d heard that Epstein was unhappy about what was revealed in the book, but, man, he’s obviously still pretty irked about it.