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I’ve been trying to digest and process my reaction to a scathing article by Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe last week. I still don’t know what I think.

The article, as they all were in Boston last week, is about the Red Sox’s continued clubhouse issues, and the ways that they’ve spilled onto the field over the last couple years.

At first blush, Abraham’s article is a piece designed to defend Bobby Valentine’s efforts to turn around a corrosive team culture, and to explain the Red Sox’s underachievement of late. But, when you comb the essence, you find that it’s really about deep flaws that Abraham perceives at the top of the Red Sox’s organization dating back as far as five years ago.

That’s when guys like Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod were running the show.

Among some of the more harsh words from Abraham:

It has become apparent over the last calendar year that the Red Sox front office made some serious miscalculations when it came to assessing the character of players they signed to large free-agent deals or contract extensions.

John Lackey and Carl Crawford are obviously uncomfortable in Boston and it has affected their play. If Adrian Gonzalez was indeed the ringleader against Valentine — and he didn’t deny Passan’s charge that he was — that speaks poorly about his character, too. It is worth noting that Valentine was a staunch defender of Gonzalez in the spring when the first baseman was hitting .256 and going weeks between home runs.

Josh Beckett, hailed as the leader of the pitching staff when he was signed to a huge extension, has been anything but. Unless, of course, the Red Sox wanted their pitchers led by somebody who doesn’t seem to much care what happens to the team ….

Finally, there is the overriding idea that the front office and ownership has allowed this to happen. The Red Sox seem intent on appeasing their players as unprofessional behavior often goes unchallenged. The players are unhappy about a doubleheader? Bribe them off with headphones and a yacht trip. The players are out of shape? Fire the strength and conditioning coach. The players quit on the manager? Fire the manager. The players are unhappy with the new manager? Rush to New York and have a meeting with them.

This started years ago, not when Valentine was hired.

In other words, the problems developed and marinated on Theo’s watch.

On some Soxenfreudian level, we’ve all been pleased to watch the Boston crap show develop from afar. The men that were left – other than, perhaps, Ben Cherington – put the Cubs through the ringer, probably unfairly, when Epstein left in favor of his current gig with the Cubs. They came off like douches, and we were content to see them flounder.

But I’ve always sensed in myself a little uneasiness about the swiftness and depth of the decline in Boston after Epstein’s departure. Obviously he did some tremendous things in Boston, but he faced criticisms that he had allowed a mess to develop, and then was running out the door when ownership handed him a mop and asked him to start doing some cleaning. I’m not sure that’s an entirely fair criticism – it is, at a minimum, too simplistic – but the worse things get in Boston, the less unfair it seems.

Certainly, the issues of player entitlement are probably not a terrible concern here in Chicago. Well, they won’t be for many years, anyway. Further, there were a number of egos involved at the top of the Boston food chain – above Theo’s head, even – that complicated that situation sufficiently that I’m not sure the same problems could develop in Chicago, even if there were some fatal flaw in Theo’s approach. Indeed, the issues that developed in Boston are probably far more reflective of a toxic mix of things unique to Boston than of some chink in Theo’s armor.

So, I suppose that’s why I land in a place where I’m not sure how to best contextualize the Abraham article. Obviously the media there is driven by a variety of incentives, none of which are likely to lean toward defending Theo. Then again, they are the closest to the situation – certainly closer than I am – and, when they speak on things like this, we can’t help but listen. I don’t think my image of Theo or my hopes for the future are fundamentally altered by what’s happening in Boston (or, I suppose, more precisely, what has happened). This is all just additional information for the file.

I think I still feel good. Yeah. I still feel good.

  • Evenbetternewsv2.0

    If you notice none of the draft picks under Theo’s watch are generally talked about in all of this… More times than not Theo it has been noted from the people above to make a splash over the Yankees. This while Cashman has been taking less expensive talent. Theo had his fair share in this but I put this on Luchino and Henry.

  • RoughRiider

    Wasn’t Theo instrumental in trading away “The Babe” ?
    I’t all very amusing that a team has been reduced to what Boston is after winning 2 World Series under Theo and now that he’s gone instead of fame it’s blame. Players don’t have to like each other and they don’t have to like the manager to have a good team. They do have to act like professionals and play with pride. Something the Boston MLB team has apparently lost touch with.

  • Wilbur

    The root cause of the Sawx not winning is injuries and poor performance by big time players – Beckett, Crawford, etc. The unhappiness that permeates this situation has another name – frustration. Originates with the feeling, “… that we’re better than this, but we’re still losing. How could this be happening?” Eats at good men, destroys lesser ones. Sports writers know it when they see, but their analysis up close or from afar rarely tells the whole story.

    Add a new manager with a lot of attitude to a group of holdover coaches he couldn’t replace. Leads to poor communication, no concept of team, and a lot of distrust. When it goes south on the playing field if anyone is even trying to rally the troops who do you trust the guy who says go left or the guy who says go right?.

    Ownership is divided and your GM, while an apparently a talented guy, was publicly neutered by the Team President. Who owns the problem, the guy who said hire Sveum or the guy who overruled him and said hire Valentine. If that didn’t create factions within the team that people are still mumbling about that would be a huge surprise to me.

    Lucky signings, in the context they exceeded expectations, just before Theo comes on board (Ortiz, Damon, etc.) versus later bad signings, in that they under performed (Crawford, Lackey, Beckett), could definitely fall at Theo’s feet, or not. How much did owners and the President in fluence force those bad decisions. I don’t know either.

    I don’t think this Sawx debacle correlates strongly with Chicago, but at the same time I hope Theo, Jed et. al. are watching, reflecting on what they did or didn’t do to create today’s mess, and creating a list of lessons learned that are not to be repeated.

    I’ll hold judgement on the Sawx unraveling until the tell all book gets published, something like “Money Ball II” or “It may start with a computer analysis. but it always ends with a person’s decision …”

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I think that you are right, and in a way, one should want this. That is, if a team is losing, then the clubhouse should be unhappy. Lots of bad teams have happy clubhouses: and generally those are clubhouses full of guys who are just happy to be in MLB. (I can sort of understand that!)

      But you get the horse and the cart straight: the Sox are malcontents because they are losing; they are not losing because they are malcontents.

      • Bric

        Very true. And to take your point further, You have to look at the players signed as free agents during this downward slope.

        Aparrently players like Sabathia, Texeria, Rodriguez, etc. would rather have their names listed among the likes of DiMaggio, Berra, and Mantle than Williams, Pesky and Oil Can Boyd. Big Shocker.

        Now that Manny’s been bounced for his juicing, Big Poppy’s been put on notice, and Damen and Youk have left for greener pastures, what’s left? Beckett, Crawford, Lackey, Padroia and a bunch of other over priced pussies crying again about how they can’t beat the evil empire. You reap what you sew.

    • Tommy

      Wow, I wrote my reply before reading yours, Wilbur, but your post was excellently written and presented.

      You pointed out one thing that I didn’t even consider – the way they’ve neutered (to quote you) the new GM (Ben Cherington) is a good indication of how John and Larry don’t let their GM really do the job they hired him for. If they did this to Cherington when it came to something as major as hiring a new manager, why would anyone think they wouldn’t tamper with free agents and their contracts!

      Again – your post says it all. I should have read it before I posted mine. Yours was written much better and stated much more clearly. Well done!

    • MoneyBoy

      Wilbur, I’d like to add my thanks for your fab post!!

      I remember thinking … why would this guy (Theo) leave his dream job in the first place and being shocked when he went back. That one still mystifies me!!

      It seems the discord and disconnect between Theo and Lucchino was allowed to fester by John Henry. There were stories aplenty in the wake of the crash of 2011.

      To his credit, in an in-depth article by a Boston paper (Brett: link if you have it, pls!), Theo acknowledged some of his mistakes, esp. in the FA market.

      That Cherington was kneecapped so early on by Lucchenry was appalling. It was a bit surprising that Cherington didn’t up and quit on the spot, esp after being there and having seen Luccino’s meddling before. Your point about the effect on the clubhouse was very relevant. And that’s completely aside from Valentine being a tool of the highest order!!

  • MichCubFan

    Who knows what decisions came from who over there. As much as he liked Boston and the Red Sox, i think Theo is glad that he is out of that situation.

    I also don’t think anyone knows where to properly place blame between Lucchino, Henry, and Theo.

    Their team was fine last year until September. Who cares what they were doing, they just bombed in that one month. The clubhouse problems are being blown out of proportion by the media.

    They are an aging team caught in the middle now. They need to figure out their next step. Injuries certainly haven’t been kind to them, though.

  • koyiehillsucks

    It is definitely a concern and something no one here seems to recognize. Too many here have the Theo can do no wrong mentality so he can’t be criticized on any decision.

    However I do believe he has significant pressure from owners in Boston to land big name FA’s something he does not have in chicago. Hopefully he learned from his mistakes.

  • cdncubfan

    i really hope this doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of responses but as an east cost canadian, i am bombarded with sox news. when it isn’t jays, it’s sox. my NBC station is boston, CBS station is Boston, ABC is Boston, etc. so i’m well aware of every little detail when it comes to the sox. hell, my dad is a die had sox fan.

    all of that said…this season has been coming for at least two years. and any sox fan in their right mind will tell you that. if i had a nickel for each time a person here tells me that LL is torpedoing that franchise, i’m going to buy you all tickets to the cubs home opener next year. we all know how much sway ben cherington has as the GM of this sox incarnation. that’s exactly how much theo had in the end. you can’t tell me that theo left fenway in a gorilla costume for nothing. boston has a major history of running people like theo out of town and smearing them.

    i love sox fans and respect the history of their team but the media there are an absolute disgrace to journalism and it won’t end with stories like this. in three years, we’ll be hearing more stories like this about how much of an asshole gonzalez always was or how ben cherington should have hired maddux instead of valentine.

    every single story that comes out of boston is a bullshit smokescreen leaked by guys like lucchino. take that to the bank.

    • cdncubfan

      not sure how to edit that…should have spellchecked the “die had” but it does have a certain new england flair to it.

      also meant that theo left in the gorilla costume the FIRST time they tried to run him out. i know he didn’t leave this past season in a gorilla costume. though if you asked him and he were honest about it, he might say he wished he did considering all of the crap he got for winning them two titles.

      i’m sorry for the rant. i just heard nothing but BS when theo left boston and even before i thought there was a chance of him coming to chicago, i swear i thought it was BS.

  • Tommy

    Peter Abraham has eaten too many sour grapes, methinks.

    And from what Theo and Jed have shown us, I have a hard time believing they made the decision to sign those HUGE contracts on their own. We can only speculate, but I would be willing to bet that most of the insane contracts given out had more to do with Lucchino and/or Henry than they did with Theo. For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisuke_Matsuzaka

    The Wiki post on Dice K talks about how Theo, Henry, AND Lucchino went to talk to Boras personally about the contract offer, which seems odd that the GM would request the additional help in negotiations. Does that sound like something that would have been Theo’s idea? Methinks no.

    Also, the $51,111,111.11 bid they put in for him was a ‘lucky number’ that was chosen by Mr. Henry himself. So the owner picked the bid amount – doesn’t mean Theo didn’t agree with it, but doesn’t mean he did, either. At any rate, Theo doesn’t strike me as the superstitious type, so that number probably made him roll his eyes. Here is a forum post that cites what appears to be a news article that confirms that: http://forums.twobillsdrive.com/topic/56913-how-dice-k-matter-was-won/

    My whole point in all of this is that I am sick and tired of hearing how Theo signed all these terrible veteran contracts without considering that he was strongarmed by the CEO and owner. Frankly, I can’t imagine being given the job to lead an organization, and still having to deal with an owner dabbling with the contract negotiations of an individual player anyway. Give me a budget and let me operate within that budget as I see fit is what I would say. I do believe that this may have been part of the problem that led to Theo wanting to leave his beloved home team to begin with.

    I could be wrong, but he sure hasn’t shown any sign of being careless with contracts since coming to our beloved Cubbies! I guess we should thank John and Larry for their dabbling if indeed that were part of what led Theo to leave. We’re glad to have him in our hometown!

  • CraZyHorse The Mess IN BostOn the fault belongs…

    The mess in Boston is Larry Lucchino fault. He is the President of the Redsox. When little Theo quit on that team over a contract dispute back in 2005, He was the idiot that let it be known that people can quit on a team with no repercussions and that stigma has reached the clubhouse. I trust that Theo can evaluate playr comming out the draft but as President -he will always be a joke . _Do as i say not as i do …………. loser

  • Rebuilding

    The things that have happened in Boston since Theo left should be proof enough that the Sawx org is wrotten at the top. Every decision has been a head scratcher. Cherington seems like he was put in place as a yes man because surely he can’t be this bad. And the hire of Valentine – Is there anyone on this blog who, if they owned a team, would have hired Bobby Valentine to be their manager? Luchinno is like Crane Kenney on steroids.

    I will also point out that Henry’s group has completely mismanaged the Liverpool Football Club since taking over that storied franchise

    • jr5

      That’s a fair point about Liverpool. And, now that I have a chance to mention it, Jon Heyman spent all spring touting the amount of money that Henry spent on players for Liverpool as evidence that they didn’t have any money to spend on the Red Sox, displaying a complete ignorance of the fact that the amount of money Liverpool had received for selling players during that same window outweighed what they’d spent. (Or at least mostly offset it, I was never sure which time period he was citing.) It was so frustrating to hear him spouting off on MLB Network about how they’d spent 71 million pounds or whatever, when they’d sold just one player (F. Torres) for 50 million. That’s been bothering me for about 9 months now. I feel much better.

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    I live in San Diego, were Luchino was calling the shots while the new Padres playground was being dangled before the voters. He hired a bunch of free agents, got to the World Series in 1998, a month before the vote. Naturally it the corporate welfare measure passed easily. He then proceeded to gut the team. When Luchino left San Diego, he very few tears were shed.

    There’s little doubt that Epstein, a lifetime Red Sox fan, left Boston because of Luchino, and most of the blame for their current plight lies at Luchino’s doorstep. He and Valentine deserve each other.

    • MontelleW

      Amen to that!

    • mudge

      Exactly.

    • CraZyHorse The Mess .

      eXACTLY HOW LONG DID IT TAKE THE pADRES TO GET TO THE WORLD SERIES UNDER LARRY ? thE CUBS HAVE BEEN WAITING A CENTURY- Larry gutted the team – I tend to think the owners gave the order to gut the team and when he manned up to his contract- I bet Larry did not blink an eye when he was able to leave San Diego for Boston

      But he never resigned – he made a winner – he gutted the team under orders and then he left – he did not resign . unicorn music playing in the backdrop—-“”” my hearts not in it…..

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    Sorry for the typos in my post. Bottom line: Lucchino left San Diego just ahead of the torches and pitchforks.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Sorry for the typos in my post. Bottom line: Lucchino left San Diego just ahead of the torches and pitchforks.

      Wait a minute: there aren’t enough San Diego fans to have both torches and pitchforks. Torches and pitchfork, perhaps?

  • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

    I finally read the article. Sounds like the writer is a drinking (or otherwise) buddy of Valentine.

  • FFP

    So, I have dozens of things I want to say/scream on this topic. Let me pick out 3 or 4.

    1. Biggest difference between Sox prior to August 2011 and the current edition? MANAGEMENT : The GM (actually now president, whatever defacto baseball ops commander) and the Field Manager. (The September swooners knew both Tito and Theo were lame ducks).

    2. (Some) Boston sports media members are confused; because personalities actually ON the team change, and the writers are still there, they think this is about THEM (Hello, CHB).

    3. Theo fixed TONS of problems by controlling leaks (controlling completely after the gorilla suit hiatus). That control is no longer in Boston. Both WS teams were FULL of troubled dudes (esp. ’04). But, they could pitch, hit, run, field, and remember how many outs there were (Sorry, Starlin). Theo keeps sports stories about sports; ’cause this is, ya know, a sports team? Personal stuff is personal (except for the occasional head-scratcher hybrid–what was that man-to-man in the stands with Dempster this year?) If there is personal trouble that needs addressing it gets the attention it needs. Not the front page attention it doesn’t.

    4. I’m not feeling Soxenfreude; but I’m feeling good about our team. I followed Theo here for good reasons. GO CUBS.

    • college_of_coaches

      Thanks FFP, I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding this ongoing situation. Your point about troubled dudes winning the ’04 series is well-taken.

      • FFP

        What Terri Francona did has only begun to be appreciated, COC. How he got those guys to perform so well will be studied by MBA types some day (Wharton, Sloan and Booth may fight harder over him than major league teams and ESPN).

        Francona blended modern metrics, old school respect, and luck in the end; in a way few others do (so far this century). The stats and the match-ups are important: but knowing the men; maximizing each guy’s performance each day; that is an art.

        I know that at the end, it was the end. Maybe it had to be, because as Theo said, ten years is enough. The game is cyclical. (But, I don’t believe it was inevitable–until it was.)

  • Carew

    If Theo & Co. learn from mistakes, than who cares

  • Cubs1967

    facts are team theo was given a 93 win veteran team in beantown; with 2 of the biggest bats roid users in ortiz and ramirez plus vets like varitek. he also had 175M payroll. once the leftover’s from duquette’s team were gone; team theo signed guys like crawford, lackey, julio lugo and dice K. last year the red sox suffered the biggest collaspe in 125 years of baseball; beating the cubs anemic 104 and no WS win. fact are theo has never started a team from ground up and this year will make 3 yrs of his team and no playoffs. next will surely be 4. jed, has done nothing but be a starbucks buddy and last year with the padres mande no meaningful improvement. give team theo his 2 titles. impressive. all this other stit; very unimpressive and makes you wonder; what should his expactations be? 1 playoff in 5 yrs? 2?……….lots of questions. (i know most of the youngsters on this site get drool all over themselves when they see a theo photo) but facts are facts. theo has a NO history doing what he is doing. nor jed.

    • Tommy

      I want to reply to your post, but I can’t understand a word of it.

    • Carew

      you know jed jump-started the padres system, so he knows what he is doing. And with a MINOR LEAGUE system, comes patience

      • Carew

        oh and I don’t think Theo knew what he was gettin himself into

      • calicubsfan007

        @Carew: Theo did draft Pedroia, Papelbon, Ellsbury, Buchholz, Bard, Masterson, Lowrie and Murphy. Sure, some of these guys aren’t on the Sox anymore, but Theo also knows how to build a minor league system.

        • calicubsfan007

          Oh, he also drafted Youk and Lester. Not a bad set of players.

          • Lou

            Actually, Duquette drafted Youk…so that’s wrong and Theo didn’t acquire Lowell 2007 WS MVP and Beckett because he was on hiatus. Just for the record.

        • Carew

          holy crap you’re right brother. How could I forget all that haha. they know what they’re doin.

          • calicubsfan007

            @Carew: Eh, I might not know everything, but I am good at evaluating talent. Most those guys I loved when Theo drafted them, I was only wrong on Youk and Lowrie. Can’t always be perfect (=.

            • JoeA2233

              Theo is overrated, relies on Carmen, got lucky when Billy turned downed the job, and has drafted some busts of late, some already released, and others soon to be.

              Theo walked into a cushie job, established roster, and from that point on, slowly eroded what others built. He is not a baseball guy, he is an Ivy league student applying advanced math and statistics to a game of numbers and couldn’t pick a ballplayer from a stack of horsecraap with his own eyes.

              With the internet, advanced scouting, and every so-called expert out in cyberspace, draft boards are made by the compilation of all this information and even then, missing on a 1st round pick out of EGO when the general opinion on a player shows warts and flaws is pure blockheadedness.

              Epstein is full of himself to the point where he will focus on one isolated thing and miss the other good things available, Mr. Myopia

              • JB88

                Congrats Brett, looks like Oneri is now reading and posting on Bleacher Nation …

        • Bill

          calicubsfan,
          True, but how many of those picks were compensation picks under the old CBA? I thought I read somewhere that Theo had more early picks than any other team during his tenure. That’s great but that’s not going to help us under the current CBA rules where those picks will be much tougher to come by. Theo hasn’t built a team from scratch, so I think it’s fair to wonder if he can get the job done in Chi. I’m not convinced he can get it done and worse, it will be years before we know because Theo has elected to ignore the big league club (by refusing to sign any big name FA’s) and concentrate solely on the farm system. That’s going to require incredible patience by the fans, and it will mean that Theo better not make many mistakes in the draft (with the higher round picks).

    • Cyranojoe

      Uh, dude. Theo signed Ortiz.

  • http://www.mattlacasse.com Matt LaCasse

    Good read here, Brett. In the final paragraph, you say:

    Obviously the media there is driven by a variety of incentives, none of which are likely to lean toward defending Theo. Then again, they are the closest to the situation – certainly closer than I am – and, when they speak on things like this, we can’t help but listen.

    I think that’s a very fair thing to say. Two reasons why you must take what the Boston media is saying here with many grains of salt. 1 – The media need to sell ads, and they get that by increasing ratings and/or sales. Being reasonable does neither of these in sports talk these days. 2 – I think there may be a “forest for the trees” thing going on here, where they are SO close to the situation they’re missing the bigger picture.

    That said, let’s play devil’s advocate and say that Theo played a part in the disaster unfolding in Beantown. Rarely is a single person responsible for something like this. And don’t forget the breakdown in the relationship between Theo and Red Sox ownership. I think that plays a HUGE role here. If the GM and ownership don’t want to speak to each other, it’s awfully easy to have a situation escalate out of control when major egos are at play.

    • Cyranojoe

      I think it’s also important to consider what Theo and the rest might have LEARNED from the Beantown Debacle. Sure, they may have screwed up — heck, they may have themselves been at the heart of the problem — but that doesn’t mean they have to make the same mistakes here in the Windy City.

      Let’s hope the bunch of them are as insightful as they are supposed to be brilliant, and they are each able to review their work and recognize ways in which they can and will improve here. They’re certainly young enough that “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” shouldn’t apply!

  • steve

    Obviously the boston media will put it all on Theo and company. Fact is I think behavior issues are more on francona than anyone else. There’s no way Theo signed guys that are character types, he went after guys that a lot of other GM’s tried to sign. He was signing mostly proven veterans that didn’t seem to have behavior issues coming in. I think complacancy with francona, and the long time veteran guys is more to blame. Of course Beckett got re-signed, he was a proven ace type, & big game pitcher. The boston media needs to stop looking for a scapegoat in a regime that’s no longer in place, & look more to the players that feel comfortable in a place they’d played at for years.

  • 5412

    HI Guys,

    I was fortunate enough to spend a couple hours with Dallas Green this spring. He gave me the background of what happened we he got canned.

    In a nutshell, he tripled attendance, tripled the TV ratings, got the Cubs into their first post season play in over 20 years, and sold the city of letting them put up light. The Tribune paid $20.5 million for the team and in his last year made over $25 million profit. My God, that is over 100% on invested capital. They should have been fast tracking him to run the damn Tribune Company. Instead he was canned for “philosophical reasons”.

    He told me they had gone to a few meetings and thought they knew all they needed to know to run a baseball team. With him there, he would not let them do it, they had no clue.

    Now I tell that story for two reasons. Owners, even corporate types have egos and get way too involved in politiclal crap. Steinbrenner meddeled for a long time, and spent a lot of money, before he finally backed off and let the baseball people do thier thing.

    All Theo and Company did was break an 80 year old curse and help them win two championships in four years. Good teams age and need to rebuild. Somewhere in the process things up top got very sticky and they decided to part company.

    Here is how we can answer Bretts question. If the Sox continue to flounder like the Cubs did when Green left, then we will know who was the genius and who’s ego was bigger than their baseball management skills.

    Whether Theo made some bad deals is irrelevant to me. What the Cubs are going through right now would be a lot more tolerable if we had won two World Series and then having to get out from some big contracts for players no longer producing.

    If Ricketts does not change, I think what is going on here is just what Ricketts describes. They are building a baseball factory where players will move through the system, produce and win, with a few free agents as needed to put them over the top.

    Hopefully it will play out that way,

    regards,
    5412

    • ssckelley

      Nice post and spot on.

    • Cyranojoe

      +1. Like.

  • TonyE

    I’m just glad we have a two time world series champion running our team instead of newspaper guy(s).

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Dallas Green’s assessment is true and accurate. And the same could honestly be said for most of the other regimes, including Hendry. People are ridiculous in their assessment of Hendry. Hendry was not someone who hated the minors and wasn’t committed to it, it’s patently untrue, he had some bad luck, take a look at the NATS # 1 pick it happens to everyone. From Green to today, every regime has started out committed to the farm system, but ownership gets antsy when seats, corporates and advertisers start vacating. And that’s not far off here. I’m no longer worried about 2013, that ship left the dock already, we will stink next season. The real question now is 2014, 2015, or 2016 and that’s one hell of a lot more dicey than most think.

    I’m in Theo’s corner and wanted him to come here badly. I do though think there is a double edged sword when it comes to Boston. We can’t say Theo is the genius that won 2 WS and built then and then somehow lose sight that he was also the architect of the great collapse in 2011 and two rotten contracts. Lcchino is a rat, but Theo’s finger prints are there too. And lest we forget this one the 3 worst, currently the 2nd worst, performing teams in all baseball. I have excused plenty for the new regime, but yes I was and am concerned with how they babied Dempster. I don’t blame them for not getting full value for Dempster, but the whole regime handling in Chicago of discipline certainly isn’t tough love…. It is too early to judge much good or bad, but the on field performance for Theo and Ricketts is nothing to be proud of. One more thing, Green is right about Tribune co execs and there’s no worse example than CK and its to Ricketts discredit he hasn’t sent him packing.

  • Roy Hobbs

    This site is amazing. All the comments above were amazing. I can’t believe how many good, coherent posts I just went thru.

    Bad Ass.

    • JMick

      That’s whay BN has become my homepage and the first and last site I check on a daily basis.

    • Cyranojoe

      Keep reading! More good posts below, even in response to an obvious troll. Wow, guys, keep it coming!! :)

  • Lance Whyte

    I just have to point out that what this article that Brett is talking about is what I said clear back in November when they hired this bum……….The Cubs will not win a series untill they get serious and spend money on Proven winners……..Praying that these young kids get to be all stars is all good and everything……….But the FO has money to spend this offseason and they need to spend it…….If Epstien and hoyer aren’t going to do it Ricketts needs to take a lesson from what Henry did……when you see Epstien isn’t signing big name free agents to step in and make him do it………first thing Ricketts needs to do is step over Epstien and call Garza’s agent and sign him to a 10yr Deal and then offer the mets something for Santana this offseason……..Tell Epstien the fans that have been loyal deserve some big names to root for and this team that Epstien and hoyer put together is on pace to lose a record number of games and no matter what you haters want to say about Hendry his teams never did that…………All these loses are on Epstien and his failure to spend money on big time winners………..

    • Chris

      Troll

    • TC

      what does any of that have to do with this article?!?

      Aren’t all those “Proven Winners (c)” the root of the problem in Boston? Aren’t the guys that John Henry commanded his FO in Boston to sign (Josh Beckett’s extension? Lackey? Crawford? Gonzalez?), aren’t they all prime examples of why spending tons of money on on tons of FA is a bad thing?

      WHAT HAS GARZA DONE TO DESERVE 10 yrs?! Which FA do we sign to become contenders? JOHAN SANTANA? REALLY? Do you know what happened the last time Cubs Ownership stepped in to pay a FA? Alfonso Soriano got 8yrs/$126M

      And don’t they owe it to fans to try and win real games? Signing some big-name FA last season might have brought them to 81 wins this year. Winning 81 games isn’t worth shit.

      (I know I’m responding to a complete troll post here, but I see this sentiment in an earnest way just often enough where I feel the need to respond to them anyway)

      • Bill

        While I agree with much of what you say, I just think there’s a middle ground. There’s a large gulf between signing no big name FA’s and spending unwisely (ie see Soriano contract) on FA’s. The Cubs have a boatload of money coming off the books this offseason, so not sure why adding a piece or two would be a bad thing. It’s true, this might not get you into the playoffs next season, however, it gets you closer. Now, you add Soler or Baez (just using those as examples) in two years and maybe you do have a playoff team. To write off all big name FA’s this next season, because you don’t think they can reach the playoff, seems shortsighted to me. The Cubs need starting pitching (especially TOR talent), and those TOR guys don’t come along every year. Not saying the Cubs should spend the money just to spend money, but if Hamels would have been available the Cubs would have been stupid not to make a fair offer for him. The Cardinals signed Chris Carpenter at 29 years old and he’s won a number of games for them over his 8 seasons with them. Not only regular season games, but playoff games.

        I don’t see why you can’t build a bridge to success. You sign some FA’s (2-3 guys like A. Sanchez, Jackson, Marcum, McCarthy). This allows for you to be more competitive, sell more tickets, make more money, and gets you closer to playoff baseball. You still have plenty of payroll flexability. Now, you are hoping to fill in with some of the farm system talent. Whitenack or McNutt in the bullpen or back of the rotation and may Baez or Solar are able to make the big club. It gives Vitters and Jackson another year to improve their game.

        In a market size of Chi, I don’t understand fielding a team that sucks until guys are ready to come up from the farm and then adding FA’s. That could take 4-5 years and likely longer. It’s a risky gamble on Theo’s part. You’re hoping the fanbase won’t get ticked and quit buying tickets because they are tired of watching 100 loss teams. They should be using parallell tracks. One to continue the talent at the farm, the other to improve the talent and the big leaugue level. These should not have to work against each other. So, there’s really no need for the 2013 team to be so bad unless Theo is content with losing to ensure he locks a high draft pick.

        • Frank

          This is true, they’re either kissing up to ownership by saving them money or trying to sabotage a generation of cubs fans. If you can payroll 120m at least put together a team worth buying a ticket to see…while you rebuild.

        • bbmoney

          I have no problem with them going out an signing a couple of mid level players (preferably pitchers – like to see A. Sanchez or McCarthy personally) for 2-4 year contracts (not sure that’ll get it done for Sanchez, but probably would for McCarthy with his injury history). But I don’t see any reason to go after any of the premier FA’s yet.

          My opinion on that will change in another year or two. But I think patience is key. Not sure who’s going to be out there in 2013 or 2014, but that’s when I’d like to see them get more agressive in spending big dollars to help complement the guys that should be coming up from our own system in 2014 and beyond.

    • FFP

  • FFP
  • Joepoe321

    Red sox fire pitching coach bob McClure! I would take him over bosio

    • Stinky Pete

      Why?

  • oehly37

    Let’s just suppose he made some poor judgement calls in Boston. I would venture to say that he’s the type of professional to learn from them and try like heck not to repeat them. I believe the Cubs will benefit if this is the case. Once again the Sox’ loss is our gain.

    • bbmoney

      I’m guessing ownership had something to do with some of those calls in Boston. Obviously I have no proof of that, but I’m hoping Ricketts has the sense to let the baseball guys make the baseball decisions and he can just sign the checks. Obviously there will be financial limits, but it’s the only good way to run an organization.

  • Frank

    The Epstein situtation in Boston is very diffeent than that here in Chicago. The main difference is thst in Boston, he was pressured by ownership to win every season, and ultimately ended up sticking them with burdonsom contracts and traded away many prospects. I suppose that the same could be said for Hendry in his time with the Cubs, as when they were trying to sell, he was pressured to put together a more attractive team for prospective buyers.

    With Ricketts giving him more freedom to build the team as he likes, along with Hoyer, it will be a longer road to the top, but hopefully he should be able to keep the team their longer. Yes, the next few years could be rough, but Epstein and Hoyer are not going to do what big market teams tend to, and throw as much money as possible at the biggest name free agent out there regardless of whether it fills a need for them.

    The Cubs have money, theres no question about it. Between Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Milton Bradley, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, and several smaller pieces like Grabow, Baker, and Kerry Wood, between last offseason and the end of this seeason, the Cubs will have freed up around 75 million from the payroll. They will use it, but they will be patient about it. There was a time, when the 2013 free agent class was poised to feature Matt Kemp, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, and Zach Greinke. Any of them would have beem money well spent, but now Kemp, Cain, and Hamels are off the table. Grainke could very well extend with the Angels, but even if he doesn’t Cain and Hamels being off the market will jack up his price significantly, and due to his mental makeup, he may not be worth the commitment. The market will now offer players like B.J. Upton, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, and maybe Andre Ethier. Any of them would be great additions to contenders, but again, the lack of depth on the free agent market will jackmuo their prices. This being said, I feel that this off season will feature signings similar low risk to David DeJesus and Paul Maholm, each of whom paid off handsomely. Additionally, there will be the reclamation projects, which Epstein seems very fond of.

    When the right thing comes along, the money will be there, and it will ultiamately be utilized. The Cubs and their fans will simply have to excersise patience, which should payoff. However, Epstein and Hoyer are contract for another four years, and I assure everyone that they will want the team to shape up according to their plan by that time.

    My final thought on the matter is that this situation could answer a question of which I’ve often wondered the answer; When judging a GM, it’s important to take into consideration their market, and the resources at hand. A big market GM is pressured to win virtually every year, whereas a small market GM is more intent on building a team over a stretch of time, and the ultimate goal is toopen up a window of contntion, and keep it open as long as possible via the farm system. My question has often been what happens when you take a successful GM from a big market team, and put him in a smaller market scenerio? The Cubs are in fact a very big market team, however they are operating in a very small market fashion, for now. We just need to hope that it pays off in the long run, and we don’t have to keep going back to the drawing board as the Royals,Pirates, and Astros have so many times.

  • die hard

    Brett, why do I feel you are baiting me and others who were vehemently against Theo et al being brought in? In fact, you threatened to ban me and others from this board for what you perceived as “crossing the line” in some of our comments. Your criticism of our tone was taken to heart by me and others and I and others did tone down the rhetoric. But now you dare us to start again? Well, you know how and I others feel about bringing all of them in. We are on record and so dont need or want to now plan on the “told you sos”. Most of us bleed Cubby blue and want to live long enough to see a WS win here. Nothing can be done about Theo et al now. So, maybe to be constructive we all should focus more about how as a board we can influence their thinking so they wont make any of the similar mistakes here.

    • TWC

      Lulz: “But now you dare us to start again?”

      Beware the wrath of die hard!

    • VanSlaw

      So, maybe to be constructive we all should focus more about how as a board we can influence their thinking so they wont make any of the similar mistakes here.

      “If you believe, clap your hands; don’t let Theo fail.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Every time I write a post, I have but one thought in mind: “How will die hard perceive this post to somehow be about himself?”

  • VanSlaw

    If Adrian Gonzalez was indeed the ringleader against Valentine — and he didn’t deny Passan’s charge that he was — that speaks poorly about his character, too.

    This sentence assumes Valentine did nothing to merit an insurrection. For all we know, if Gonzalez led a charge against Valentine, it may be a testament to his character, not an indictment of it.

  • Pingback: Cubs Rumor Bag: Moves, Theo, Barney, and Levine | Hot Stove Cubbies()

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