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epstein conference cubsI just got out of a presentation to season ticket holders at the Bank of America Theater downtown – entitled On Deck 2014 – and I’ve soon got to hit the road so that I can be back to Ohio before midnight. (The Little Boy is a touch sick, and I’d like not to sentence The Wife to another solo night punctuated by solo baby cries.)

I will give a full write-up of the event, which featured presentations by the Presidents of Business and Baseball Operations – Crane Kenney and Theo Epstein, respectively – soon. There are interesting bits to share, and things to look forward to in 2014. But this is just a quick and dirty teaser, partly because of the need for me to rush out of here, and partly because there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to spoil the whole thing for folks who are going to one of the three later sessions (today and tomorrow). There was one kinda-sorta surprise appearance. Can’t spoil that.

So, here’s a quick tease on some of the things Epstein discussed during his portion of the presentation. The following are my best notes on parts of his presentation, and are paraphrased (although in first person voice for convenience):

Seeing all of you and the plans for Wrigley, I’m reminded of why I’m here. I was told by a friend when I joined the Cubs that it takes great courage to be patient. I’ve called him several times to tell him he was right. I don’t think of me in relation to that, I think of you. You are the ones being patient, and thus courageous. So thank you.

Did you notice how there was a tremendous amount of young, homegrown talent on both teams in the World Series? Of the 50 players on active rosters, 35 were homegrown or acquired using homegrown players. That’s the way to build successful organizations. [Epstein made a joke about an oath to Tom Ricketts to hate the Cardinals – he said he won’t call them a “model franchise” for that reason.]

Why spend so much time and money on young talent? Many reasons – young players tend to get better, tend to stay healthy, can be groomed to support ethos of org, fans enjoy getting to know young players, etc. The main reason? Cramming as much talent onto the big league roster as possible. Peak age is 27 years old. Young players are cost-controlled – so you can fit more of them onto your roster. Average free agent is 32 and much more expensive than he was in his 20s. We want as much talent as possible on the roster. Since you cannot get impact, mid-20s talent in free agency, only way to get it is via draft, int’l FA, and trades.

[Epstein noted an evaluation that indicated the Cubs were the worst in MLB production from the players taken in the drafts between 2002 to 2010 (I believe I got those years correct, and I believe we've discussed this before)].

With the big revenue still a couple years away, it was clear to us that the only way to succeed was to go full-on into young player acquisition mode (and develop them, and get the most possible/best possible information about young players).

We now have one of the top scouting operations in baseball. [Lengthy discussion about The Cubs Way - it's a 350-page manual, and it covers everything.]

Talent acquisition: spend as much as we can on draft (despite CBA’s limitations) and on int’l FA. Epstein called signing Jorge Soler before the new CBA kicked in “exploiting a loophole,” and also called the 2013 int’l spending spree “exploiting a loophole” (hey, that’s what I called it way back when!), and then lots of trades. We’ve traded four years of veteran years (8 players) to receive 78 control years of 14 different young players. [Big applause.]

But there’s a cost, obviously. When you go into full-on talent acquisition mode, it better work. We don’t take your August and September pain for granted. Happy to say that thus far we’re very pleased with the results. Top five system per all the rankings (will be), and we believe we have three of the top 10 to 15 prospects in baseball (interesting cutoff). Now video on the prospects – Baez, Almora, Edwards, Soler, Bryant. (Edwards was an interesting inclusion, and Epstein mentioned multiple times that he was the pitcher of the year.)

(Here I started to wonder whether it was risky to focus on these young guys in addressing season ticket holders, given that the young guys likely still won’t be big league impact talent for a while, and … ) Right on cue, Epstein: we’re under no illusions that they’re all going to be stars and that they’ll come right up and we’ll win. It’s not linear. But the plan lines up so well with our business plan – the revenue will come online, and the renovation work will be underway/finishing up, at the same time as these young guys are up and ready to contribute.

So, there’s your quick and dirty tease on portions of what Epstein said. Kenney also had some interesting comments, and the overall presentation was well done. Again, I’ll have more robust thoughts soon, but this should tide you over.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    do they serve Spaten seasonal draft in Kane County? I know there’s a good Mexican restaurant in Geneva but they served me a cucumber margarita. Not so hot. Also they now charge $5 for parking in kane county.get real chicago is a major market. Hopefully the cub start to look like one

  • Cub Lifer

    I have implicit trust in what Epstein and Hoyer are doing. It’s refreshing also to be treated like adults and good baseball fans. The plan and the honesty about the incumbent pain that comes with building things the right way is refreshing. They want to win as bad as anybody. I beliefs Ricketts does too, but his problem is he lack political tact and nastiness to get things done with the renovation and unlocking new revenues. He needs to be more of an iceman.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    okay. 1 2 3 strikes you’re out at the old ball game

  • waffle

    Again kyle, I disagree.

    I doubt there are any
    Theo has been pretty clear. But you appear to have issues w/ comprehension sometimes. Or just selective hearing. Or selective memory. Or you just like to argue. I’d bet the last one.

    • mjhurdle

      The Cubs have made some progress, which gives people that want to see the positive something to point at to show things are going in the right direction.
      But they have played poorly enough to give people that want to be negative things to point at to show that things are not going as planned.

      Neither side is necessarily wrong, it is just people choosing the interpretation that fits the narrative they believe in

      • MichiganGoat

        Well said

      • Turn Two

        Id say everyone agrees Theo is building something here, but some say in the interim we should be buying a few good teams while the kids develop and some say we should just clear all payroll and get it as low as we can and be patient.

      • DarthHater

        I just wanna hate stuff. :-P

    • DarthHater

      “Or you just like to argue.”
      [img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7376/10750623675_ed37af82a0_m.jpg[/img]

    • Mike F

      If he’s worth a damn he’s been just the opposite. I agree with Goat in that what will be will be, but no doubt, Theo has been anything but clear and to think he hasn’t is to fill in your own version of reality. The plan and just about everything he has said is vague. Who the hell in baseball doesn’t want to follow the Cardinals way? Who doesn’t want to build through the minors? Who would expect a 1 to 1 correlation in development? Who would expect linear progression?

      I am in Theo’s corner. I like him. But to condemn anyone who thoughtfully points out some of what is obvious, just because it doesn’t fit the herd mentality that none, absolutely none of you have seen is the very definition of ignorance. I respect Blackhawk because he is being straight forward and deeply apologetic for any misstep that occurs. OK I accept that. But to just say he’s been clear or some other variant of this Theo walks on water, is insane.

      You want to take at faith level, fine. You want to think Theo is walking across Lake Michigan and you have to lose to win or whatever peace you want to making with losing to lose, fine. But just learn not to condemn those who disagree. There is a balance between Theo is perfect and Theo is destined to fail. I like him and think he is the best guy for this job, but he’s been anything but perfect when he has lost 198 games in 2 seasons. That’s reality!

      • MichiganGoat

        How is any of this “condemning” part of this is friendly jabs at Kyle, but this “people are being mean to me” whenever people disagree is ridiculous. Somehow during these last two season people have gotten really thin skinned and can’t handle people not agreeing with them 100%. People will always have dissenting views, bullshit will always be call bullshit, but to expect sunshine and rainbows… well okay if that’s what we need

        [img]http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view/1018524/rainbow-puke-o.gif[/img]

        • Mike F

          You aren’t and my I agree and well said is to your general concept. My comment is aimed at some of the anyone who doesn’t believe ‘every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the most high…. ” Is evil. He’s been vague and as you aptly and adroitly pointed out, that leads to some of this. My point is as the losing piles up so does the polarization and some of this. This time around the victim is Sveum next time?

          I think to be fair, Theo is good at this baseball thing and by definition deceptive, misleading and vague are necessary to be good. I just think some of these guys are vilifying anyone who doesn’t see that true way which is very hidden for good reason.

          But enough, we can all return to howling at the moon. My comment wasn’t aimed at your playful posts, it was aimed at some of a multitude of apologist for every mistake along the way and those who were going after him pretty harshly.

          • DarthHater

            Huh. I thought the goat WAS the apologist for every mistake along the way. ::shrug:: ;-)

            • MichiganGoat

              Many still believe that but I’m still learning how to hate master.

              • DarthHater

                Incomplete is your training, young padawan.

            • Mike F

              He is the ultimate apologist of apologists…. ha ha…. Gandhi award for peaceable disagreement…

              He might be able to soon be a figurative member of the howling at the moon society. That’s pretty much what we all are…..

              • MichiganGoat

                Us goats to howl we bleat

          • MichiganGoat

            And likewise I wasn’t calling you out but pointing out how more and more people can’t handle dissent around here, and have no sense of humor when a jab is thrown.

            • Mike F

              Brother no truer words have ever been spoken. I think it an age and reflective thing. I guess politics has made a better person of me, I have learned to have friends of every possible walk of life and opinion. Some of my best friends share nothing in common or share even a majority of my beliefs and we learn to accept, enjoy and even learn from another? Yes?

              • MichiganGoat

                It’s the Skip Bayless School of Debate that teaches NEVER ADMIT YOU ARE WRONG!

                • Mike F

                  Bad, bad, bad man that guy, never have liked him in Dallas, Chicago or even now wherever the hell he is…. See you just proved I am incomplete in my evolution with that name…..

            • caryatid62

              The problem is that any time someone presents a position that does not fully and entirely accept the righteousness of “the plan”, there is a vocal group that will utterly ignore the arguments they make, and instead immediately brand them one of four things: an idiot, a troll, a luddite or a contrarian.

              There’s a whole lot of stupid that comes from various people on both sides of this debate. And it makes coming here lately much less fruitful, to be honest.

              • MichiganGoat

                I’ve never called anybody a luddite but I will now, thanks for the suggestion. ;)

        • D.G.Lang

          (this is more of a global reply than a specific reply to an individual).

          Intelligent disagreement is ALWAYS acceptable, what is NOT acceptable is the name calling and immaturity that some present.

          There unfortunately are some present that are by their very nature argumentative and feel that they ALWAYS have to be critical of others who disagree.

          News flash, it’s long time past to grow up and keep respectable in out thoughts and actions. Just because we can physically do something doesn’t mean that we HAVE to do that something especially when it is better to take a more mature and reasonable approach to a subject.

          It’s better to use a reasonable mind than an emotional one. It’s better to respect others politely and present a reasonable answer than to reply in anger or frustration.

          I can understand season ticket holders who have gad tickets for a long time being unhappy but Theo and company didn’t build the disaster that they bought, the Tribune and Szell built it and let decline into it’s present condition.

          Rickets and company bought a bad product which was much worse than what they thought they were buying and they had the courage to face up to the trith of what was needed to be done. They are doing it the right way even though it has taken a couple of years already and may very well require a couple more years to complete.

          What was done is what was needed to be done for MANY years. On one hand It’s just unfortunate that it is happening NOW and not some earlier time long gone, on the other hand it IS very fortunate that we have an owner who does love the team (The ENTIRE team/organization) and wants to make it the very best.

          It’s also long past time for the chronic complainers to shut up and stop spreading discontent among the fans. It’s time to get fully behind the rebuild and see that it gets done correctly rather than impede it by encouraging non-attendance and other tactics intended to influence the owners to change course.

          • TWC

            tl:dr

          • Kyle

            Yeehaw, love it or leave it!

          • Mike F

            You take yourself too seriously. If you think you or others here are pimple on the content or discontent of the fan base ass, you might want to get some help. Actually if anything it may or may not be reflective of trends in that base that occurring.

  • Mike F

    absolutely well said. Time to join most of the fanatics and howl at the moon…..

    But you hit it, we need to just all leave it alone and let him be “organic” .

  • Ivy Walls

    Reading the comments and Epsteins admission that they had not presented a better product to the the season ticket holders and fans. It seems that they are definitely going in different directions with the offense, but that looking at Bos and StL home grown talent that is going to be the primary direction.

    I look at the landscape and everything tells me the club needs a true AS caliber LH bat in the OF, that the present SS is not the answer and that 3B and 2B are not blocked, neither is any OF spot. That Lake will be an important piece but someone who will not have a regular defensive position. Finally pitching will be more of the focus than most people think.

  • Mike F

    Tend to agree with that and will take it a step further. I think he intends to be more active on all fronts this offseason because it is who he is. He wants both the Cubs and himself to be relevant as any successful person would. Theo is not not has ever been a person who can accept the concept of being a lovable loser.

  • #1 Troll

    Everyone of you so called fans we’re talking about getting Major League Talent, now all you can talk about is getting a triple a team at Wrigley……….You children on here are a bunch of delusional idiots if you ever think the cubs ever win a series under these losers………Wake up.. Ricketts just wants to pocket his 125 Million he got from the FOX Tv deal………..Idiots……..

    • Mike F

      why not call yourself # 2, and just drop the troll. It is more appropriate…..

  • Troll King

    You can tell this site is full of kids that will buy anything

  • Lazrus Wilson

    @DG
    No one fan has the right to tell any other fan what to think and what to get behind……. You are an idiot if you think you have the power to order anyone around on the internet…….Only a kid would think he has that power…..

  • Lazrus Wilson

    sorry JP………but as long as Michigan Goat and Darth Hater are on this site those two will always take the Title on most Ignorant Views.. Neither of those two have ever cameupwith their own thoughts or Ideas………. If Ricketts, Theo or Jed or Brad says it….they try to pass it off as gospel and that’s just not the truth…….

    • MichiganGoat

      Ah thanks buddy

    • TWC

      Brad?

      Who the hell is Brad?

      • YourResidentJag

        Brad Ausmus?

        • TWC

          Heh.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        He’s probably confusing Billy Beane with Brad Pitt and confusing the A’s with the Cubs. Both easy mistakes….

  • Lazrus Wilson

    I love the fighting back and forth………This is all their is to do..when you root for a losing team

    • mjhurdle

      *there

  • Lazrus Wilson

    I come here to speak my mind and don’t care what the Blind idiots say or think……. I told everyone of you the day Ricketts bought the Team that he would never bring a World Series to the Cubs and I said it again the day he hired Epstine in his 5yr contract and I said he would make excuses and that they would have to extend his contract and it still won’t happen and I will be around to tell ya… I told ya so………..Truth is Henry and Luccino we’re and always will be the brains in boston and why they won the 3 series … I am not even a Cubs fan(thank god)……. If you are an Adult you will admit that the cubs don’t deserve to win a series until they invite Bartman to Wrigley and do a Major Appology…… They havn’t done enough.. No Team would deserve to have a series having acted like that…..

  • caryatid62

    Theo can say anything he wants at this point. The fact remains that the Cubs:

    1. Have an ownership group that purchased the team through a heavily debt-laiden structure that very likely is siphoning money out of current revenues.
    2. Have decreasing ticket sales and thus less of that revenue in the first place.
    3. Have absolutely no specific timetable for when that revenue will increase due to the hold they’ve placed on renovation.
    4. Have few Free Agent options that would immediately and significantly improve the team.
    5. Are unable to financially compete with other teams for those few free agents.
    6. Had very few signs of encouraging growth from the players at the major league level in 2013.
    7. Possess very, very good minor league players that have shown growth but are likely at least a year and a half from making significant contributions at the major league level.

    Spin it any way you want. Blame whomever you want for the problems cited above. It doesn’t really matter. The reality of the situation isn’t going to change. Ish ain’t good right now, and it don’t look to be gettin’ better anytime soon.

    • caryatid62

      Forgot one more:

      8. Are in what looks to be the most talented division in baseball with at least two teams that are stocked with numerous young stars and/or farm systems nearly as good if not potentially better than the Cubs’ system.

  • Lazrus Wilson

    becareful M-Goat your mom knows will read the foul words your using and your gonna get grounded off the laptop again……

  • CubsRLost

    Now this should give ya something to fight about goat boy

  • Mike F

    wow, and everyone who doesn’t agree with you is an idiot? You admittedly aren’t a cub fan, but you come to a cub fanatic site to speak your mind? I do agree though, the mind is really the debate here, and unfortunately you have interjected that and yours in particular to the discourse. On that I agree and while idiot is often to harsh a word, in this case if you walk to the closest mirror and stair at it for just a moment you may well understand……

  • CubsRLost

    No Mike….I don’t care if people agree with me or not……I am not goat boy or darth bitch…….but if you buy hook line an sinker the lies that Ricketts and Epstine say in the face of truth, then you are an idiot…….Way to much proof is out their that the cubs do have money and they lie and say they don’t and if you buy it..your an idiot……truth is Ricketts and his dad just want to pocket money and have passed up a chance to win a series…..

    • MichiganGoat

      Who is this Epstine person?

      • mjhurdle

        it is ‘epitome of pristine’ or ‘epstine’

      • Brian Peters

        Not that Goat needs my assistance, but here goes: if you’re going to go after him for going after you–if that’s what you think he’s doing–the least you could do is use a dictionary/thesaurus. Your opinion will be respected that much more if you do. @Goat, onward and upward, com padre!!

  • waffle

    I still don’t get how the following is under debate

    – The plan as communicated by Theo is sensible and well thought out and (as communicated) will take a bit of time. We appear to be on course
    – Theo has been pretty clear, although well spoken and oblique at times (which in his position, I think I would be as well), but overall pretty darn clear

  • Mike F

    No I don’t buy anything from anybody hook line or sinker, but this isn’t the grassy knoll either. Nothing to date has convinced me Tom Ricketts is evil. At worst he might be at some point flipping the team, but even that is far premature to discuss. And I think it was premature to fire Sveum let alone condemn or apologize for Theo. It seems to me this is becoming a hell pad for extremist to flame and never quit flaming. I and all in for honestly criticizing for where there are clear failures, but to declare all is lost consistently is as off as apologizing.

  • MichiganGoat

    Reply button must be broken tonight

    • mjhurdle

      You are giving them the credit that they actually tried to use it.
      I don’t go that far, i just assume they aren’t smart enough to handle such advanced message board technology.

  • CubsRLost

    I agree with ya Waffle on your Point…It is well thought out…….Rich People like Ricketts have been bred by their rich daddies to find ways to keep as much money and to make it look like they care……..Ricketts would be the worst offender in the majors if it wasn’t for the Marlins and Astros owners

  • Mike F

    If losing say 380 games in 4 years is the plan, I would say that is no plan at all. And frankly Theo has laid out a vague concept that might be expressed more as universal strategy of every organization and GM in baseball except the old version of the Yankees.

  • Mike F

    And I continue to believe in Theo not because of future performance based on a plan that is not communicated except telepathically to some of you, but because of his past performance.

  • CubsRLost

    Marlins, Astros, Padres and Cubs prove that their needs to be a minimum cap in the MLB…… If the Yankees have to pay to spend over 189 mil.. Then the rest should be fined for not spending atleast 89 mil……Every Team should have to atleast try to win with major league talent…..

    • mjhurdle

      *there

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Umm… The Cubs will spend that. Not sure why you think they won’t. Do you like your arbitrary number? Is there a reason you only picked teams who are bad? You do realize there are some pretty successful teams who spend less than that, right?

  • mjhurdle

    i would bet the house that CubsRLost and Lazurus Wilson are actually the same person just posting under different names.
    He/she must be bored.

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Or just ignorant.

    • Drew7

      The ridiculous overuse of ellipses looks terribly familiar.

      • TWC

        No. No! That’s not true! That’s impossible!

        NOOOOOOO!

        • Drew7

          Believe it, Mr. C: he’s back, and in full-force. I can feel it…

          (LOL!)

          • MichiganGoat

            Yeah he just wants to get his ban card stamped again, after 100 punches he gets the next ban for free.

          • MichiganGoat

            I myself find the Lesser Goldfinch http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/lesser_Goldfinch/id to be a much Better bird than the News tries to make us believe.

            • MichiganGoat

              But 1967 was a horrible year

  • CubsRLost

    Your right Mike.. It has become Universal because of baseballs biggest Problem and thankfully that problem is stepping down next year….. Selig has conviced a majority of the owners to be greedy like him and to not spend the money on stars.. He has always tried to do that…

  • jt

    Have you seen those very large buildings that house insurance companies?
    Have you seen those bright lights in Los Vegus?
    Have you seen those fancy suits that Wall St. Bankers wear, the cars they drive and the homes they live in?
    Do you think these guys speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
    When someone tells you he is a river boat gambler that is the only time you should believe him!

  • CubsRLost

    Never said we were not the same…….Thanks for pointing out the obvious… I can change my name as many times as I would like…….Actually I am bored….. but atleast I convinced some rich guy to give me money to be on here to torment ya……. You are so dumb because your on here for free

    • mjhurdle

      *you’re

    • caryatid62

      I get paid to surf the internet! Click HERE and find out how!

  • CubsRLost

    The owners of the Insurance Industry doesn’t get on national tv claim to care about the city and how he wants to bring a trophy to the town and a parade and does the exact opposite….. When it comes to sports people have a right to expect an owner to go get that Leagues Talent and try to win and if you lie, you should be prepared to be called on the carpet for it…

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Good lord. Some simple grammar would go a long way.

      • MichiganGoat

        Trolls don’t believe grammar exist and we are absolutely being trolled tonight.

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