Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein addressed the media yesterday, and touched on a number of topics as we await Opening Day.
- On the timeline for Cubs’ success: “I can go ahead and write your stories for you now if you want. At some point you’re going to wake up and write about ‘Oh, the honeymoon is over. We’re not seeing enough progress.’ I don’t know when that’s going to be. It might be two years from now, it might be three years from now, it might be two months from now, it might be two weeks from now. But because progress as an organization isn’t linear, that’s coming, and we just don’t let it bother us. I think it’s important to just focus on what we’re doing internally and understand that everything outside is really, no offense, just noise. Whether it comes from [the media] or even comes from some fans who are deservedly upset at a given point, it’s really just noise and if we let it affect our decision-making, shame on us. So as [Bill] Parcells said, ‘If you listen to the fans in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be sitting with them.’ Don’t take that the wrong way. I care more than anything what our fans think. But I also operate with the belief that ultimately the only way to make them happy is to be able to provide for them baseball in October on a consistent basis, and a World Series championship eventually.” Do I really need to say that, once again, Epstein is knocking the message out of the park?
- On the Cubs’ chances in 2012, when viewed in concert with the long-term plan: “If you listen to the prognosticators, if you look at it on paper it’s probably an uphill battle. It’s very clear what the plan is, and how we’re going to execute and try to accomplish that vision. Hopefully we’re disciplined and no matter what happens around us, we stick to that plan to accomplish that vision.” In other words, long-term plans will continue to trump short-term wins and losses.
- On the current state of the Cubs’ Minor League system: “We need more talent; we lack impact talent. We have a number of interesting guys, especially at the lower levels, but every organization has a number of interesting guys at the lower level …. We need some more impact talent, and we need some guys who have ability and can break through. It would be really nice to get a breakthrough player this year and have somebody move from that interesting prospect category to that potentially impact category. So we’ll see. There’s a lot of work to do.” It could be a huge year for the Cubs’ farm system, as hopefully some of the expensive prospects added to the system over the past 12-15 month step forward, as Epstein says.
- On listening to the media each day: “I think that was part of the Red Sox problem for many, many decades – focusing too much on the next day’s sports section and what people thought, and focusing a little too much on the Yankees and other factors and not on just building something and keeping everybody’s internal focus on progress and building. We’re not going to be deaf to the concerns of fans and what’s going on around the [Cubs]. We’ll recognize that, with respect to the media, it’s just noise and we’ll focus on what we’re trying to do despite the occasional cacophony.”