Theo Epstein Wants Playoffs or Suck, Nothing in Between, and Other Bullets

cubs theo epstein uh ohYou’re probably noticing that these Bullets are up in the wee hours of the morning. That isn’t inadvertent. The Wife and I are up right now, tentatively getting ready to head to the hospital for Baby Festival 2013. Nothing is certain just yet, and I’ll alert you when I’ve officially left the building, so to speak.

  • Theo Epstein continues his brutal honesty tour, this time in an interview with David Haugh. “What I want to avoid is the middle ground,” Epstein said. “It’d be nice to make the playoffs or get a protected draft pick [awarded the bottom nine teams]. We’re not hiding that. There’s no glory in 78 wins instead of 73. Who cares? We’re going to see where we are and take a real cold assessment in the middle of the season. If we have a legitimate chance to push for a playoff spot then 2013 can become our primary focus. If we think a playoff spot’s not in the cards, there will be no concern for appearances or cosmetics whatsoever. We’ll continue to address our future and trade off some pieces that would keep us respectable.” Have I mentioned how much I appreciate this guy? None of this is anything Epstein hasn’t said before, at least at the margins, but the guy is just putting it all on the table for fans to deal with: if the Cubs aren’t looking like a playoff contender come July, they’re stripping it down again to serve the twin purposes of adding young talent through trades, and having a record in the bottom ten in baseball. (By the way: having that protected first round pick matters only if the Cubs plan on going after some top free agents in the near future.)
  • Dale Sveum on prospect Junior Lake, per Carrie Muskat: “He looks better in games than he does when he’s doing his work. It’s like the game speeds up for him in [batting practice] and he slows it down in the game. That’s always a nice asset to have.”
  • Scott Baker threw 25 pitches successfully in live batting practice yesterday, and Arodys Vizcaino threw 25 in the bullpen. All good on those fronts so far.
  • The Cubs have one of the top 20 Dominican Summer League/Venezuelan Summer League Prospects according to Baseball America – right-handed pitcher Daury Torrez, who destroyed the DSL last year (which doesn’t mean much), and is likely to come over to the States this year.
  • Zack Greinke just went up in a lot of people’s estimation. Why? Because he admitted what we all already know to be true: when it came to free agency, he was all about the money.
  • More details from Bob Brenly on how his deal with WGN fell apart at the last minute.
  • Kerry Wood comes to Sammy Sosa’s defense, and says the Cubs should indeed consider retiring his jersey.

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

91 responses to “Theo Epstein Wants Playoffs or Suck, Nothing in Between, and Other Bullets”

  1. farmerjon

    I get frustrated with with the fans that aren’t on board with th FO and ownership’s plan for the franchise. After years of suffering poor management and development, I find it VERY refreshing to see this organization being run like a successful professional business. “The wise man builds his house on the rock…”, when the Ricketts’ took over, I guess I , personally, viewed us as an expansion team in respect to the work that needed to be done. So far, I have enjoyed the build and have had zero objections to the moves made (or why). I am excited to watch the plan unfold. I hope to see more organizational improvement this year, development of our young core and prospects…and I don’t judge those things by the W/L record of our major league club. I love this site and enjoy most of the comments ;-) …congratulations to you and yours Brett!

    1. Ryan

      Well, the problem with MacPhail was he built our farm system up to be one of the best, but could only manage to put a couple of respectable MLB level teams together over a ten year period. Why? Tribune wouldn’t give more resources. And then, here comes Hendry guns a blazing making his mark for ten years. JH trades off most of our A-level prospects for proven veteran MLB players, signs larger FA contracts, and doesn’t really look at a 20 year run on parallel tracks. JH put three playoff teams on the field, one of which was four outs from the WS. JH also had pressure from a the Trib to over-inflate the franchise so they could make a couple hundred millions more. I mean 700 million profit wasn’t enough, you know (bankruptcy or not, that’s BS!). So what is left? Here we are. I am not complaining, because I like a lot of what has been done to date. I do think they will sign FAs for 2014 and 2015, since there are some really strong players who are 28-31 years old. I think this year’s draft comes down first pick taking either Appel, Stanek, or ISU lefty kid, and one of them pans out to be a Strasburg, Cain, Gio, etc. like pitcher. We could be in business real soon. They need to find college bats, who can get through to AAA quickly as well.

      Good things are coming, but patience is never easy. We will be fine.

    2. Bill

      At some point you better start judging the organization by W/L’s. I think Theo/Jed had a very good winter and really liked the players signed. Theo has done a nice job of improving the farm system and adding scouts, baseball men, improving the facilities. All of these have been nice improvements. However, at some point the product on the major league field needs to improve. Ricketts has plenty of money, in a major market, there’s no reason this should take 5 years+. If the Cubs aren’t fighting for a playoff spot in 2014 I’ll be very disappointed in the job Theo has done with the big league club.

      Just because Theo is better than Jim Hendry doesn’t mean we need to swoon over every move he makes or that he’s above criticism.

  2. Timmy

    This supports everything I’ve been saying.

    They’re not interested in competing in the near future. So don’t buy any Cubs tickets. They’re losing on purpose and expanding ownership dividends.

  3. Cano is probably going to be a Yankee for life

    [...] The Dodgers were the most likely team to acquire Robinson Cano if he hits the free agent market, but the Cubs could not be completely discounted.  The Cubs have over 35 million coming off the books, and some will be eaten up by arbitration increases there is a still a significant amount to invest in one player.  Theo Epstein also spoke about the Cubs goal this year to not be in between. [...]

  4. Where the 2013 Chicago Cubs Stand: Hope for the Best … or the Worst? | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    [...] was very pleased to hear Theo Epstein echo my greatest fear for the 2013 Cubs in the offseason: the middle ground. In the Spring, Epstein told David Haugh [...]