Theo Epstein Speaks: Measuring Success, Trading Alfonso Soriano, Schmoozing Suits, and More

theo epstein about thatIn the run-up to Opening Day, and with the Wrigley renovation on the periphery of all Cubs-related discussions, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein shared his thoughts on a variety of subjects with a variety of media (including Patrick Mooney here, Mooney again here, Paul Sullivan here, and Paul Sullivan again here).

  • On how the front office would react to another 90+ loss season: “Well, we’d be disappointed. If we had a 90-win season but we had a horrible draft and we had a bunch of our prospects take a step backward and we have several key injuries to core players at the big league level, I would consider that a disappointing year, to be honest, because we need to build this organization up and be better than where we are today. Now if we unfortunately suffer through a 90-loss season, to use your example, but have an unbelievable draft and lots of prospects take steps forward and other players develop in core at the big league level — it would be disappointing at the big league level … but in the big picture it will still be a successful year for the organization …. There should be two areas of focus. One is the big league team. Do we succeed or fail? And one is on the organization. There is just no other way to look at it right now. That’s the reality of it.” Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, we’ll be looking back at another successful year in the organization come November, even if not a successful big league season.
  • On keeping Alfonso Soriano no matter what, because he’s such a good presence on the team: “No, you have to leave all options open. Because if we reach a point this year where we’re not going to have a season where we sneak up on people and contend, then we have to at some point contemplate our future …. It’s up to him too. He’s got the no-trade now, so if he doesn’t want to go anywhere, he doesn’t have to. But if there is something that puts him in a good position and also makes the future of the organization better, we’ll bring it to him. But that’s down the road. Our priority now is for him to repeat his 30 bombs, and having some other guys step up and try to have a season like the Orioles and the A’s had last year.” Pretty much exactly what you’d expect – and want – him to say. Soriano wasn’t keen on accepting a trade until midseason anyway, so let’s just hope for productivity. That means the Cubs are good, or Soriano is tradable for value. Either way, that’s a good thing.
  • On the value he sees in finally getting the Cubs back to a place where they’re competitive every year: “Now and then I see clips of what it was like during the ’03 playoffs, and that sea of people body-to-body on Waveland and Sheffield and how great a contrast it is to what it’s like now, especially on a cold April night on a Tuesday. That kind of pops into my head sometimes when I’m walking over to the ballpark: Hey, all this hard work [and] so many different people making sacrifices to make the organization healthier and better [is] so that we can have that sea of people out there, having a great time. [It’s] so we can play when the ivy’s starting to turn colors.” I remember that feeling. It was actually pretty great in September in 2007 and 2008, too. If you’re anything like me, you crave it again.
  • On his desire to avoid being the story when it comes to the Cubs: “Obviously, we live in a world where things are boiled down to 140 characters [on Twitter]. If you can focus on one person, that’s the most convenient thing to do. But it doesn’t mean I have to be comfortable with it. I recognize the realities of it. That’s why I pick my spots. That’s why I’m not always down there during BP. That’s why I say no to 95 percent of media requests from national writers or people that want to write things about me. And also just for my own privacy. Once you start thrusting yourself out there, I think you become a hypocrite if you then decide to draw a boundary and pull back.” That one comes from a Mooney piece, so I’d say that 95% comment is a compliment to you, Mr. Mooney. (That particular piece is a great look at the person that is Theo Epstein, so definitely give it a read.)
  • On schmoozing, which Epstein views as an unfortunate, but necessary, part of the job: “I can turn it on. It’s a requirement of the job to do it. But it’s work and I actively hate it as I do it. I can go into situations – like a cocktail party or things like that – where I need to schmooze and I have to set my soul aside. It’s not something I can pull off on a daily basis. I loathe it. But it can be an important part of the job and I need to challenge myself to be better at it and maybe not take myself so seriously. If they’re going to suffer this fool, then maybe I can suffer fools as well.” (The last bit was a joke.) Should I find myself talking to Theo at a party, I’ll remember that he is absolutely uninterested in speaking with me. Most people are.


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

171 responses to “Theo Epstein Speaks: Measuring Success, Trading Alfonso Soriano, Schmoozing Suits, and More”

  1. mudge

    He’s a little bit too forthcoming sometimes. Most introverts feel as he does, regardless of their job. We just don’t want to go with an avatar if we don’t have to.

  2. Jon

    My buddy Paul and I hung out with Theo, Darwin Barney, Dale Sveum and Kerry Wood last year at Dempster’s Annual Casino Charity Night event and Theo was great to hang out with. If he loathed the situation you wouldn’t be able to tell. Granted Theo like many of the Cubs organization had gold digging women chasing them around the room, but Theo was manning a Blackjack table, that became a game of War, which then became Texas No Limit Poker and seemed to enjoy himself. Theo was sharing family photos on his phone, conversing with the fans and making the time everyone spent at his Blackjack table very enjoyable.

    1. EQ76

      I would say there’s a different between schmoozing and hanging out and having fun.. A poker tournament doesn’t exactly feel like a schmoozing type of event.

  3. JulioZuleta

    I’m not sure if this was mentioned, but for all the people ruing the Stewart/Colvin trade…BOTH LeMahieu and Colvin were sent to AAA by the Rockies. Oh the sleepless nights…

    1. Kyle

      The issue isn’t what we gave up. The issue is that we thought Ian Stewart should be a starting 3b.

      1. TWC

        Not that I disagree, but I can’t help but shake the feeling that you’ve said this before…

        1. Kyle

          And I’ll say it every time this gets brought up. The Ian Stewart trade was terrible, but that has little to do with what we gave up.

          1. JulioZuleta

            It has everything to do with that we gave up. He was a lottery ticket that had an injured wrist and played GREAT defense. The hope was that once the wrist healed he’d be a good player. It didn’t work out, but we didn’t lose a thing. That’s not a terrible trade, it’s just one you won’t remember in 8 years.

            1. Kyle

              He doesn’t play great defense. He plays average to slightly above-average defense.

              1. JulioZuleta

                Hah, you always focus on minor things rather than the overarching point. I don’t care what you get back, if you trade fill-ins that are clogging the organizational depth chart, it cannot be a terrible trade. If they traded Javier Baez for Ian Stewart, that would be terrible. Two mid to late 20s AAA players with low ceilings for a shot in the dark lottery ticket and a possible bullpen arm is not terrible.

                1. Kyle

                  Don’t cheat on the minor things and I would focus on the overreaching points.

                  It was a bad bet. They gave their starting MLB job to a guy who had been terrible and hurt while playing in an extremely hitter-friendly environment.

                  It was quite literally a lottery ticket, in that the return on the investment was incredibly unlikely and not worth the price paid.

                  1. MightyBear

                    Who is better Stewart or Valbuena?

                    1. Kyle

                      Can I say neither?

                      I’d lean toward Valbuena, but I don’t care either way because they are both bad.

              2. pete

                Question on the issue of third baseman acquisition. Did we try to acquire Headley last year before making the Stewart deal? And the price was too high? (Or was it never a serious try, a la Sori to the Phils?) I thought I read that last off-season but cannot swear to it.

                1. Kyle

                  There was a report from a fairly reliable insider on the Pro Sports Daily Cubs forum that the Padres wanted Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt, and we considered that too high.

                  1. JulioZuleta

                    Marlin stopped be reliable long ago. I know the two people that you could be referring to (ABTY and MB) and, while I enjoy ABTY, neither of them ae 100% reliable (or close to it) because that’s the nature of the industry.

                  2. DocPeterWimsey

                    Most sources were saying that the Pads turned back many inquiries both last winter and last July: the Pads kept repeating that they were going to build around Headley. Supposedly there were lots of inquiries last July in particular, but Headley is still very much a Pad.

                    At any rate, The Other 28 GM’s Rule makes this scenario extremely implausible: if the Pads had been willing to take on BJax and McNutt for Headley, then another team would have offered the equivalent (or better).

                    My guess is that what really happened is that Hoyer and/or Epstein offered those two to the Pads for Headley and got a resounding “no,” but that this led to the conversations that got Rizzo onto the Cubs; in the classic Grimmsian way, the right words were retained, but the order got scrambled.

                    1. Kyle

                      Same as above. You are severely underrating the trade value those two had in the offseason of 2011.

                    2. DocPeterWimsey

                      Even if it had been as high as you think (and I don’t think that it was: BJax K problem was already a concern, and McNutt wasn’t getting that much attention outside of, well, here), then other teams would have jumped: people knew that Headley’s power numbers were diminished. Again, 28 Other GM’s and a commodity position: the Pads would have found another take.

                      Again, lots of sources last winter and last season were saying that the Pads were repeating: “we’re building around Headley.” Nobody pried Headley away from the Pads, even after his really hot start last year increased the chance that Headley had priced himself out of the Pads reach. All of that suggests that the Pads were quite serious, and that it was those sources that were correct.

                    3. Kyle

                      GMs blow smoke all the time. Every player is an indispensable piece of the roster right up to the day they are traded.

                      Like I said, I think you are using some serious hindsight to overestimate Headley’s trade value at the time. At the time, we weren’t sure if he had another .750 OPS season in him, let alone .875.

                      Sure, his season last year made them more incentivized to keep him, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t willing to trade him the offseason before.

                    4. DocPeterWimsey

                      But there is an inherent contradiction in your argument. On one hand, you are trying to diss Epstein for not realizing Headley’s value and take an offered trade; on the other hand, you are trying to say that nobody realized what Headley was worth.

                      The alternate argument is that a lot of teams realized what Headley would be worth (especially outside of SD), and that a lot of teams realized that he’s the type of player that the Padres usually trade. This wasn’t just smoke generated by the media expecting this sort of trade: a lot of teams had to be looking at Headley and thinking “undervalued asset.” (If a bunch of people at Bleacher Nation could [and they did], then certainly people from the smart FOs could.) Indeed, the media still is filled with people who would not have appreciated Headley as much as a lot of FO’s would: and that makes it much more probable that the chatter involved teams actually inquiring.

                    5. Kyle

                      There’s no contradiction there. It’s Epstein’s job to get these things right and he gets debited when he gets them wrong, regardless of the consensus at the time.

                      In terms of trade value, Headley was an interesting but possibly risky 3b, Jackson was a blue-chip prospect and McNutt was a great buy-low candidate to become a blue-chip prospect.

                      Failing to see beyond the trade value to the reality goes against Epstein, just like seeing beyond Rizzo’s trade value to his reality goes to Epstein’s credit.

                  3. Hansman1982

                    Really, that passed your BS meter? The Pads wanted Jackson and McNutt (a guy you think will be lucky to last in MLB and a reliever) and we passed?

                    Wow, just wow.

                    1. Kyle

                      It was a perfectly plausible deal at the time.

                      At the time, Headley was coming off a 2.3 fWAR season with injury problems (iirc) and about to hit his arbitration years.

                      Jackson looked ready to be an above-average MLB CFer with 3 years of pre-arb coming up, and McNutt we were hoping could be a top-100 prospect if his blister problems were what held him back in 2012.

                      Sure, now that we know that Headley had a monstrous breakout season and the other two had terrible ones, it seems absurd.

                    2. Kyle

                      Just to expand on this, 2011 Brett Jackson was ranked two spots higher (No. 32 vs. 34) than 2012 Jorge Soler.

                      He was an absolute blue-chip trade piece at the time.

                2. pete

                  Never mind. All that other stuff came up while I was worrying about making a post with a sentence that ended in a preposuition and editing it for 5 minutes.

                  1. Kyle

                    Pet peeve: Ending a sentence with a preposition isn’t wrong.

          2. BABIP (MichCubFan)

            Nothing gained, nothing given up. Terrible. What a waste of time. Hindsight, damn it, should have used it!

            1. Kyle

              Playing time has value, as well. A lot of value.

              And it’s not hindsight. I told you all at the time. People need to listen to me more.

              1. Noah

                The best way to never have people listen to you is to tell them they should listen to you.

                1. DarthHater

                  Listen to what Noah is saying, everyone. :-P

                  1. Hansman1982

                    The guy is right 1 time in history and just goes on and on about it.

                    1. Kyle

                      I only bring up how awesomely right I keep being when people use “hindsight” as an argument as to why it’s OK that the front office was wrong.

              2. MichaelD

                I think the issue of playing time is an important opportunity cost, but who was Stewart taking playing time away from? Valbuena played the rest of the season after Stewart got hurt and he is basically replacement level.

                1. DarthHater

                  He presumably was taking playing time away from some other third baseman that we might have been able to get by spending some money or making a better trade.

                  1. Kyle

                    Well, we had one that we declined to offer a multi-year deal to that we refused to extend a 3- or 4-year deal to. He went on to a huge season.

                    Then there was that report that we turned down Jackson and McNutt for Headley. He went on to a huge season.

                    1. JulioZuleta

                      Nailed it.

                    2. DarthHater

                      Yea, if that Headley report is true, it’s a real head scratcher.

                    3. JulioZuleta

                      Big, big IF. I think most of us know that you can’t grade front office moves based on rumored scenarios that didn’t happen.

                    4. Kyle

                      OK. Can I grade them on what did happen?

                      They traded for a hurt and bad 3b, and he was hurt and bad.


                2. JulioZuleta

                  He’ll probably come back and tell you that we should have put a(n incredibly expensive) package together to get Chase Headley. Because, you know, making those kinds of trades are as easily said as done. He ignores the fact that there was absolutely no other options in house. I need to stop responding. If we win the World Series every year from 2015-2025, Kyle will complain that if we hadn’t spent so much time “developing players” we would have won it in 2014 too.

                  1. Kyle

                    Results matter. If we win from 2015-2025, I’ll gladly give them credit.

                    But they don’t get that credit in advance.

                    1. JulioZuleta

                      Results also don’t form out of thin air. They take the laying of groundwork. Obviously we all want to win now, most of us just remember the last 2 decades and what DIDN’T work, and are okay with waiting a couple more years while a sustainable foundation of success is built.

                    2. Kyle

                      Two offseasons isn’t thin air.

                      As a matter of fact, I *do* remember back two decades and a little further on what didn’t work. It sometimes seems to me that many Cubs fans don’t.

                      Two decades ago, we had the No. 1 farm system in baseball after years of promising to build from within, and people were drooling over our upcoming “sustained success.”

                    3. DarthHater

                      That farm system just wasn’t really as good as people thought. But this time it will be different. Really, it will! ;-)

                    4. Kyle

                      I remember changing my username on the Chicago Tribune Cubs message board to IvyEmpire because Patterson and Choi were going to lead us our lineup for a decade or more.

      2. JulioZuleta

        He was worth a flier at the time. We gave up two guys that have ceilings as backups. They’re both dime-a-dozen players and people acted like it was as one-sided as the Babe Ruth-to-the-Red-Sawx trade.

        1. Kyle

          He wasn’t worth the flier at the time, and he proved it.

          The fact that the two players we gave up had somewhat productive seasons didn’t make it feel any better, but we should never have been handing him a starting job.

  4. noisesquared

    I’m a huge Theo backer, but that first bullet point has a comment that completely, totally has it wrong. It might be the most wrong thing I think Theo’s said on record in his time with the Cubs – “If we had a 90-win season but we had a horrible draft and we had a bunch of our prospects take a step backward and we have several key injuries to core players at the big league level, I would consider that a disappointing year”. A 90 win season at the big league level is always a success on some level – 90+ wins and a trip to the playoffs is the goal. You can’t win a world series without winning enough in the regular season to make the playoffs. A season that gives you a shot at a championship is never, ever a disappointment, regardless of how the whole of the organization performs.

    1. CastrotoBarneytoRizzo

      Not if you want sustained success which is what they/we are looking for. Remember 1984,1989,1998,2003,2007? Notice the pattern? Those playoff teams had career years out of a few players while the organization had bad drafts and had some prospects take steps backwards. I totally get what Theo is saying…

      1. Westbound Willie

        Please stop with the sustained success stuff. That’s just a marketing term. Next thing you’ll be talking about turning short term assets into long term assets.


        1. DarthHater

          If what you’re trying to market is a team that is more consistently competitive at a high level over a longer period of time then, yes, it is a marketing term.

        2. CastrotoBarneytoRizzo

          Really? So the success the Yankees, Braves, and Cardinals have year in and year out is just a marketing ploy? And yes, turning short term assets into long term assets is how you build your organization for, …wait for it….sustained success!

          1. Kyle

            In the Cubs’ case, it’s a buzzword to keep people off their backs for their short-term failures.

            Sometimes, it’s funny to go back a few years on baseball message boards or blogs and look at the comments. Pretty much every bad team’s site will be talking about “sustained success” in just a few years once all their prospects start hitting the majors. It’s usually hilarious in retrospect. There’s some good ones on the Indians’ sites about their “Future 2012 lineup” featuring Rondon in their rotation and Valbuena as their starting SS.

            1. CastrotoBarneytoRizzo

              Oh. So this site is not the only one that gets the pleasure of reading your constant negativity…Damn it! I thought we were priviledged…

              1. Westbound Willie

                Here’s another good one. Lets sign him and if he stinks well flip him at the deadline for some great prospects.

            2. wilbur

              I disagree, at least in part. It is both a long term goal and something you say during a bad season(s) when there isn’t anything else to say about the Major League team’s shortcomings …

          2. Westbound Willie

            If you are turning short term assets into long term assets and your long term assets turn into garbage then guess what… You don’t have any success.

            It’s just a marketing buzz word that you fell for. Nip it in the bud while you still have. Chance.

          3. Westbound Willie

            If you are turning short term assets into long term assets and your long term assets turn into garbage then guess what… You don’t have any success.

            It’s just a marketing buzz word that you fell for. Nip it in the bud while you still have. Chance.


  5. Kyle

    Could Theo make it any more explicit that he cares more about the minor leagues than big-league success?

    I just can’t escape the feeling that he doesn’t have an edge right now, a strong desire to win, and that’s going to hurt the Cubs in the long run.

    1. JulioZuleta

      I think he’s fighting that urge to avoid making some of the same mistakes he did in Boston.

      1. Kyle

        Then I wish we had someone who didn’t have so much baggage. We don’t need to be the background for his personal journey.

        1. JulioZuleta

          Man, you’re negative. You could look at him as a great excutive that has learned from mistakes, but that’d be too positive.

          1. Kyle

            Positivity is earned.

            Though I guess right now he’s got one winning season and one losing season with the Cubs, so he’s earned neutrality?

            1. DarthHater

              “right now he’s got one winning season and one losing season with the Cubs”

              Uh-oh. the Return of Better Math! :-P

        2. DarthHater

          “We don’t need to be the background for his personal journey.”

          And yet you seem so interested in again and again talking about “his personal journey” …

          1. Kyle

            Because whether we need to be or not, it appears that we are.

            1. DarthHater

              You are because you choose to be. It’s entirely possible to disagree with the guy on some things, a lot of things, or just about everything without having to reduce everything he does to some kind of personality analysis.

              1. Kyle

                OK, but when I say “the direction we are going isn’t the best one,” I don’t want to hear “But Theo Epstein is brilliant, why would he do it if it wasn’t best?”

                1. DarthHater

                  Since I never make the latter statement, that’s fine by me :-D

                2. JR

                  Not sure who is saying “Theo Epstein is brilliant”. I think he has a ton too prove. He’s taking a huge risk by completely punting the first 3 years of his contract with the hope that the Cubs make the playoffs in 2015 and 16. He completely f’d the whole Garza situation which is extremely frustrating. The only real awesome thing he has done is trade for Rizzo and paid Soler more than any other team would, and maybe Vizcaino if he can stick in the rotation somehow. With that said he clearly has a plan and is sticking to it. I am just glad we don’t have Fielder/Pujols/Hamilton/Greinke locked up longterm when the Cubs aren’t in a place to win it all.

                  1. Rebuilding

                    I agree with a lot of things you say here, but I think you underestimate the Theo worship amongst SOME Cubs fans. You read a lot of things here that are defenses based on nothing but blind faith

                    1. JR

                      Yeah I hear ya. Obviously, there are people who will find him blindly because he has a couple rings. I think people who are paying attention know that he still has an absolute ton of work to do, and has made some mistakes. But I think in general he has the right idea, and saw the train wreck that was Cubs minor league pitching and knew that needs fixed first and foremost. So in general I am cool with the mistakes, but want to see some serious progress too.

                    2. YourResidentJag


                  2. hansman1982

                    “paid Soler more than any other team would”

                    Isn’t that the nature of every FA contract or every trade? So if the Dodgers/Angels/Yankees/Phillies/Blue Jays/Braves win the World Series this year, does that make the GM less awesome?

                    Is Freidmann the only GM who can claim awesomeness?

                    1. Rebuilding

                      Soler looks to be a great signing. Full credit to to the fromt office/scouting department. Not sure what your Friedman comment is about.

                    2. JR

                      Yes, the signing of Soler looks to be a good move. Which is why I mentioned it. But he is still a prospect making major coin due to the timing of his signing.

                    3. Rebuilding

                      If you are asking if Friedman is the only GM I would call “awesome” then I would say no. As much as Sabean is old school it’s hard to argue with winning 2 of 3 World Series, I think Walt Jocketty has proven in St. Louis and Cincinnati that he certainly knows what he’s doing, I think what Billy Beane has done given his circumstances is pretty amazing, I like Anthoupolous in Toronto and it seems that Rizzo in Washington is building a mini-dynasty

                    4. hansman1982

                      I had a point, at the time…maybe.

                      Also, I used a crap-ton of hyperbole in my comment. There is a useful idea in there, somewhere.

                    5. Kyle

                      Not going to give Rizzo a ton of credit. That team was awful for darn near a decade and happened to have the No. 1 pick for two absurdly good players (even by No. 1 pick standards).

                3. hansman1982

                  Or maybe, just maybe, free agency isn’t as great of a way to build a team as people think…

                  1. Rebuilding

                    Right. That’s why most who question our direction right now want to both get free agents and focus on the farm. They aren’t mutually exclusive

                  2. Kyle

                    It’s definitely not great. It’s just better than our 2012 plan of not building one at all.

                    1. hansman1982

                      I will say this, 2012 was an EPIC year for free agent signings in their first year. Only 2 of the top 30 (by total contract size) achieved negative WAR, 1 got 0 WAR (but was in the minors all year).

                      Considering that (for the last few years) 20-30% of the top FA’s each year fail to provide positive WAR, and how many free agents this team needed from 2011 to 2012, the probability that spending enough in 2012 to give us a shot at contention, that wouldn’t cripple 2013-2015, was reasonably poor.

                      Theo would have had to make 5-6 moves and have every single one of them work…while having a pretty shaky farm system to trade from.

                      Basically, you are arguing that he should have done what Hendry did in 2010 and 2011, just that all of the decisions go right.

                    2. hansman1982

                      As I get more time, I am going to look back at a history of draft classes beyond 2007 just to see how 2012 stacks up.

                      The top-10 of this class, put up, on average, a full 1 win better than the 2007-2012 average.

                      The beauty, power and majesty of hindsight.

                    3. Kyle

                      It’s not hindsight. Many of us were saying at the time that it was a great FA class that could fit the Cubs’ needs well, and that it would be a good time to strike while we had payroll room.

                    4. YourResidentJag

                      Your ResidentJag approves of this statement.

                    5. hansman1982

                      I’m not calling you stance hindsight. Just my ability to sit here and build a team with last year’s free agents, and every decision works, beautifully.

                    6. Rebuilding

                      @Hansman – Obviously you don’t agree with Kyle, me and others that the Cubs could have been competitive in 2012 and 2013 given some fairly simple moves (re-signing Ramirez, not completely punting on the bullpen, not having below replacement level players get way too many at bats/innings last year, not selling off). We’ve had this discussion many times now. Honestly, I’m not sure what your post means – are you saying that only 2 out of the top 30 free agents last year earned their AAV based on $5 mil per 1 WAR?

                    7. hansman1982

                      No, only 2 of the top 30 free agents signed in the 2011-2012 offseason, posted a negative WAR in their first contract year.

                      Typically, 5-10 players do this.

                      These guys also put up, on average, a full WAR better than similar guys in previous years.

                      Part of the reason I have this discussion is I am constantly researching my views on what the Cubs are doing. Would I have liked to have had a shot at contention last year. Sure, but I’ve always wondered what is the relationship between contending in 2012 and contending in 2014 and beyond by doing that.

                    8. hansman1982

                      Unfortunately, the biggest piece of the puzzle (the player’s interest in playing for the Cubs) is something that, most of the time, I have no clue on and have to infer.

                      With some guys, CJ Wilson, this isn’t hard to do. With guys like Aramis Ramirez, it’s tougher.

                      My belief right now, is that the hill the Cubs needed to climb to contend in 2012 was too great if you had any hope to actually turn the farm system around in a handful of years.

                      You only had 2 guys who had any reasonable trade value in it that you could trade before the trade deadline. This means that you were going to have to acquire a majority of your wins through free agency and we didn’t exaclty have a lot to trade last year.

                    9. Rebuilding

                      Ok, thanks. Wasn’t being snarky, I really didn’t know what you meant

                    10. Rebuilding

                      I will say that Zack Grienke said it best. After all of the conjecture about who he would sign with given his social issues he told a reporter the truth about all of these guys “I was going to sign with the team that offered me the most money”

                    11. hansman1982

                      I didn’t take it as snarky. Sometimes when I explain things they make perfect sense, if you are inside my mind.

                      This time was one of those.

          2. Rebuilding

            I made a similar point yesterday. I truly hope that the “master plan” isn’t a psychological reaction to the heat Theo took from the Crawford and Lackey deals. It would only be natural to be gun shy of the free agrnt market after those contracts went so horribly wrong. Hopefully he has put those things in the rear view mirror or has justified them by internally blaming them on Larry Luchino

            1. JR

              I think Theo is all about spending on the right guys. From everything i’ve read he wanted no part of Lackey and Cawford on those contracts, and was pressured into it. I think the Cubs will spend a lot this offseason on anyone who doesn’t have compensation tied to them.

              1. Rebuilding

                Hope we do start adding pieces this offseason, JR. I have read the same things and hope they are true and not just spin

                1. JR

                  Yeah, but the problem is there isn’t much available in free agency next year (other than Cano), and everyone is tying up there good players long term.

              2. Kyle

                Make no mistake, Epstein wanted Lackey and Crawford. He may have felt pressured to push for wins rather than taking a gap year or whatever, but those were the players he thought would help them win.

                1. JR

                  How are you so certain that he wanted them at that price? I have read a lot of things that say that is not accurate. You have some inside info? I don’t know Luccino (thank god), or Henry personally, but pretty sure they were behind those turd contracts..

                  1. Rebuilding

                    Of course it’s hard to tell and we’ll never know. I’ve always thought that once Beane turned the Red Sox down they went with a 31 year old Epstein because they could control him. That is only an opinion, but I think he gets way too much blame and credit for what happened in Boston

                    1. JR

                      Yep. He absolutely gets too much blame and credit for Boston. I am sure part of the reason they hired was probably because they could control him. Luccino is an egomaniac. Once that thing went bad in Boston, that had to be hell on Earth. But the cool thing is that Theo is a smart guy who knows enough to put very smart people around him, and HOPEFULLY he can learn from everything he went thru in Boston. Because he sure as hell saw a lot of good and bad over there..

                  2. Kyle

                    No inside info, but I think people are overinterpreting what’s been reported (which in itself is awfully convenient for Epstein).

                    Being told that they needed to get sexy players and that they didn’t want to take a gap year where they were slightly less competitive isn’t the same as grabbing his hand and guiding it through the signings.

                    1. hansman1982

                      We do have the data from the last 18 months of the Red Sox organization…

    2. Coldneck

      Focusing on the minor leagues makes the entire organization healthy – including the big league club. However, it doesn’t provide instant gratification which is what most fans want.

      1. Rebuilding

        Why can’t we do both? We essentially have 2 GMs

        1. bbmoney

          You certainly can try to do both. But even those promoting the “parallel fronts” method of rebuilding the team have to concede that the reality of the new CBA has made it more difficult to focus on both.

          Although I’m sure it would then be pointed out that if Theo’s job were suppose to be easy…..he wouldn’t be getting paid so much, or something like that.

          1. Rebuilding

            It seems to me that given the new CBA the route we’ve seemingly chosen is the one that became harder – over-slotting guys and splurging on international free agents were the things most restricted

            1. dabynsky

              The new CBA has also drastically limited the quality of impending free agents which makes building a roster without a farm system virtually impossible.

              1. Kyle

                Was not having a farm system on the table or advocated by anyone?

                1. dabynsky

                  And that addresses the point how? He said that the approach taken by the front office was limited by the CBA. I was merely pointing out that acquiring major league talent through free agency was being severely limited by the new CBA as well.

                  1. Rebuilding

                    Why is that? The old CBA had compensatory picks for lost free agents, as well. Actually the old system was even better because the team that lost the free agent got the signing teams pick in addition to the sandwich pick.

                  2. Rebuilding

                    Teams are just getting smarter about locking up their young talent, it has nothing to do with the new CBA

                    1. dabynsky

                      While the changes in free agency has lots of causes, the CBA forcing money out of acquiring amateurs is certainly part of it. No matter the reason, the fact remains that acquiring near prime impact talent without amateur talent is becoming less and less likely going forward.

                    2. Rebuilding

                      As is acquiring amateur talent in a disproportionate manner by outspending the opposition. now free agency is the only such competitive disadvantage. As the changes to the amateur changes are, in my opinion, the most proximate cause to the free agency dilemma you reference I would say that my original statement was correct

                    3. Rebuilding

                      Or said another way… The new CBA took away the advantage of being a big market club in the draft and international free agency. The only advantage there is being really bad. The free agency advantage still exists, but you are correct it is to a lesser degree due to money moving to the major league side (except in the case if the Cubs)

            2. bbmoney

              Harder than before the CBA? Sure.

              But i think going the parallel fronts method is what really got harder to do. Given spending caps get more restrictive with better records and the teams with worse records have a financial advantage in acquiring amateur talent. Regardless, no one wants the big league team to be terrible just so we can have a little more cash to acquire amateurs…but I don’t think there were any ‘fairly easy’ moves we could have made to be competitive, at least not in the sense of the word competitive I want the Cubs to be.

              Also to say the new CBA has no impact on the trend of locking up young talent doesn’t make sense to me. Especially if a team expects to be good for the foreseeable future and has restricted spending I think it’s absolutely an incentive for them to lock up young talent. I don’t think the compensation picks are a big factor, but the spending limits on ‘good’ teams certainly are. Certainly not the only factor, but one of them.

              1. MichiganGoat


  6. PKJ

    “Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, we’ll be looking back at another successful year in the organization come November, even if not a successful big league season.”

    READ: We plan on sucking big time, but don’t blame me, because everything is going according to plan.

    At least the guy’s honest! :)

  7. ETS

    Am I the only one surprised by his schmoozing comments? The C_O-type people I have interacted with (albeit rather few) in my life all give generic responses to questions like that. Usually something like “I look at every opportunity to get people on the same page blah blah synergy blah blah symbiosis”. I mean it’s obviously a schmoozing answer to a question schmoozing in general, but isn’t that the point? Like, aren’t you a terrible schmoozer if you admit you are schmoozing? Aren’t the best schmoozers the ones that can blur the lines so far that no one (maybe themselves included?) can tell when the bullcrap ends and reality begins?

    1. Rebuilding

      That was a refreshingly honest answer, but I too found it interesting he would say it

  8. Dustin S

    When folks say we didn’t get enough value for Colvin, a guy that hit .150 in over 200 ABs in 2010 (who was on the verge of being released outright btw)…that one always makes me shake my head. Trades usually take quite a few years to know which side won, if either did. Look at early last year when folks jumped Theo the same way when Volstad was bad and Zambrano pitched a couple of decent games. It didn’t really pan out for either side. If anything the Cubs won with a little salary relief. These deals are all longshot gambles since they didn’t have many trade chips to start with.

    CC Sabathia for Matt LaPorta, there’s a trade I would’ve been bashing my head into the wall on as an Indians fan. LaPorta was made out to be the next Texiera and now ooks like he was a total bust. Indians fans screamed worst trade ever for a couple years. But they got Micheal Brantley in the deal as a throw-in PTBNL and he’s turning into a decent player. So they might have come out ok after all. The lesson learned is give deals time.

    1. ETS

      Eh, it was a highly rated prospect for half a season of a guy everyone knew was going to sign for way more than the brewers or indians could pony up.

      LaPorta didn’t pan out – shucks. I wouldn’t be kicking myself over that trade from either the indians or brewer’s perspectives. (I suppose you could make the argument that indians could have made the playoffs if they had kept CC but it didn’t look like that at the deadline. You could just as easily argue the brewers could have gotten more than half a season of some player for what they traded, but the playoff run was worth it.)

  9. Cheryl

    Right now we keep looking at the past. The present doesn’t appear that good, but in two years part of the future will arrive and schmoozing or not, its the results that will matter. Its hard to tell what will happen ib possible trades, but if we had a chance to get Price how much of the present and what elements of the future would he give up? That question may be answered this season.

    1. TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      We don’t have the ‘motherload’ of top prospects to get Price this year. And why would we? We have too many holes to get a guy who can maybe get us a few more wins.

  10. Timmy

    More evidence that Epstein is sabotaging the Cubs for years to come, even with a high payroll ceiling. He’s mostly taking a hit for ownership, who has made it clear that this is a for-profit business to them and not a sports team bent on winning for Chicago. His hope is probably that if he’s able to build a good enough farm system that ownership will believe it’s worth it to invest in a few needed free agents.

    For now, though, extremely high ticket prices, a substandard team, mediocre upper management that keeps flubbing signings, and a death wish.

    At least in the past the Cubs lost out of incompetence, not design and sabotage.

  11. HawkClone

    Apparently the Cubs just signed Ryan Sweeney, which makes me very happy because I went to high school with him! Congrats Sween-boss!

    1. HawkClone

      It’s a minor league deal and he’s expected to report to Iowa (which is where we are from (except we’re from Cedar Rapids, not Des Moines))

      1. Noah

        I’m only seeing this on a local news blurb, so I won’t consider it official yet, but it’s a move I like. At his best he’s a DeJesus clone (I’m talking DeJesus now, not DeJesus in his prime at the same age). He gets on base but doesn’t steal bases and doesn’t hit for power. He can kinda play center field, but is better suited for a corner. He can’t hit left handed pitching. If DeJesus gets traded early or either DeJesus or Schierholtz go down, the Cubs have a couple guys who at least shouldn’t be total disasters to step in for them in Sweeney and Bogusevic.

    2. Rebuilding

      That’s a nice depth pick up. As Noah said, if DeJesus gets traded or goes down he is a poor man’s David DeJesus and I assume his wife isn’t as cute. I do like the way we’ve focused on adding replacement level depth this year

    3. Chase S.

      I, too, may be biased since I’m from Iowa as well, but I really dig this signing even though it’s a minor league deal. He’s got the gift of glove but l’m hoping he becomes a serviceable 4th OF or platoon guy because I think he’d be ideal for late-game situations in LF. It definitely bolsters the OF depth in AAA, which is pretty lacking at the moment. Welcome back to Iowa!

  12. Patrick G

    WOO just got Cubs tickets for my birthday in Chi-town. Anyone gonna be around July 6?

  13. Cizzle

    “Suffer fools gladly seeing ye yourself are wise.”

  14. Rebuilding

    Wittenmeyer was just on The Score. I never thought I would say this but he absolutely nailed it. The money quote was “The Cubs ability to compete on the field has been severely hampered by the debt load and the Ricketts have not been honest with the fans about it.” He also talked about the new CBA severely crimping the ability to build through the farm. He used the word “duplicitous” when referring to Ricketts. I absolutely encourage any Cubs fan to listen to it

    1. Jeff

      where do you find the Wittenmyer piece on the web?

    2. jt

      8 position players; 5 SP’ers; 4 main RP’ers = 17 money players
      [Castro, Rizzo](23y/o); [Castillo, Wood](26y/0); [Russell, Barney](27y/o); Shark(28y/o), Jackson(29y/o) = 8 of the 17 that have arrived.
      If either BJax or Arodys works out then more than half the rebuild is done.
      Note that the above does not include Garza nor Baker. The above does not include the other “highly regarded” prospects many of whom will define their value this year. At that time many needs will also be defined. That is when I am hoping they spend.

  15. Rebuilding

    It was on the Laurence Holmes Show. It will supposedly be posted but has not been posted yet

  16. MichiganGoat

    Rebuilding (continuing the CBA thread here) – the new CBA can be argued that it hurt small markets teams since before they (specifically the Royals) out spent the other major market teams. This is one of the misconceptions that the new CBA was suppose to protect but may actually hamper. I dig for specific numbers but this has been discussed here before.

    1. Rebuilding

      Maybe the dumb big market clubs (like the Cubs under the previous administration and the Yankees for a long time). Once the Red Sox started overslotting they changed the rules really fast

    2. Rebuilding

      But I agree with your basic premise that the small market clubs benefitted from the old system for quite some time as the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs etc… were asleep at the wheel. That was changing very quickly (maybe thanks in part to Theo) as big market clubs started to figure out the value in the draft. The small market clubs (Reinsdorf as well) pushed the new system as otherwise they would have been overwhelmed

      1. MichiganGoat

        I’m looking for the numbers of what teams spend over the last few years (anyone else know where to find this) but I know the Pirates and Royals were tops in spending for the last few years since this was the only way they could get top quality players. Do you have numbers to support your claim that the overspending of big market teams was the reason the MLB make the CBA changes?

        1. Rebuilding

          No, I’ll readily admit that’s anecdotal. You are correct that the Pirates, Royals, Rays and other small market teams led the innovation of over-slotting:

          However, it has only been the last few years that the Yankees and Cubs have started doing the same. It’s interesting to see the last team on that list and I have heard from several people in the know that he was a driving force in the change

          1. MichiganGoat

            Here is another report


            I’m just not seeing anything that supports the idea that the increase spending by major market teams was a primary lever for the new CBA.

      2. MichiganGoat

        Here is just one of the many articles that highlight how the new CBA does not help small market clubs. I’m still searching for a complete breakdown but this gives more of the broad strokes

        1. Rebuilding

          As I say above I don’t disagree that those teams pioneered that competitive advantage. The Cubs really only started doing it in the 2010-11 draft, the Yankees just recently started doubt it on a regular basis, etc. the world was changing

          1. MichiganGoat

            I’m not trying to argue but I’m asking for you to give some supporting evidence instead of anecdotal evidence.

        2. Rebuilding

          I hear what you are saying and obviously I don’t have internal Bud Selig transcripts to back up my contention, but I do find it interesting that the rules changed upon the big market clubs (pioneered by the Red Sox) starting to aggressively over-slot. Yes, looking at the past if the rule would have been different it would have hurt small market teams, but looking forward with the new front offices I don’t think that would have been true

          1. MichiganGoat

            I’m not asking for watergate tapes for Emperor Bud but just an article or facts that support this claim. I’m search and not finding anything that says the increase in big market spending was a reason behind the new CBA. Facts and evidence is all I’m looking for.

            1. Pat

              I don’t think it is a big market vs small market thing as far as the reason for the new rules. I think they are just copying the NFL and NBA first contract wage caps so they don’t get held hostage for a crazy amount of money by some kid who hasn’t proved he can play in the league yet.

              1. MichiganGoat

                The hostage thing makes sense but I can’t think of a player that has done that over the draft.

          2. MichiganGoat

            For example: (
            [quote]Overall, we saw ten different teams spend at least $10 million in this year’s draft, an absolutely astonishing number when you consider that only seven teams had ever done it before. The Pirates, Nationals, Royals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Rays, Mariners, Padres, Blue Jays and Red Sox all guaranteed at least $10 million to their draftees this season.[/quote]

            This was the 2011 draft only the Cubs and Red Sox are big market teams.

            1. MichiganGoat

              damn my quote html did not work

            2. Rebuilding

              No, you are correct. Every article about the subject argues just the opposite based on historical precedent. It is a purely anecdotal thesis based on big market teams starting to do the same thing. You may very well be correct that the pressure came from the other direction as small market teams became more competitive. I do know with a reasonable amount of certainty that Reinsdorf (whatever group you place him in) was a major player in the change and its easy to see why

              1. MichiganGoat

                Well I’m glad we could have a civil discourse on the this, what is interesting about Reinsdorf is that the White Sox were one of the bottom spenders on the 2011 draft and so the new CBA helps his team.

  17. Kyle

    @#$@###$ Bud Selig. Your stupid immediate off day after Opening Day is terrible and it’s got us arguing the 2011 offseason over again already.

    1. bbmoney

      I concur.

  18. Die hard

    Does Theo lead all GMs with news conferences or other public interviews etc… Why so high profile? Wish he’d stay behind scenes and could be more effective

    1. DarthHater


      1. Die hard

        How’d you get my passport photo?