Building a Great Roster is Step One, But Being Flexible In-Season is a Critical Step Two

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Building a Great Roster is Step One, But Being Flexible In-Season is a Critical Step Two

Chicago Cubs

theo epstein press conference speaksThe offseason is winding down and Spring Training is just a few weeks away. That lull presumably affords Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein the opportunity to do some good things, including traveling to Boston for his foundation’s annual dinner. That, in turn, afforded the Boston media an opportunity to speak with Epstein, which you can read about here in the Boston Globe and here in CSNNE.

Therein, Epstein speaks at length about the surprising breakout of his very young team in 2015, and about the character of the players involved. Although it sounds like the front office expected good things last year, to come through the entire year the way they did without collectively going through that adjustment period – the time where slumps set in and results are negatively impacted – was not expected. The young players got stronger as the year went on, and probably even fed off of the fact that they were all doing it together. In the Globe piece, Epstein even dropped the “magic” word.

Heading into 2016, though, Epstein sounds characteristically cautious about making any presumptions. One of the themes from the front office at the Cubs Convention was that, because of some of the good fortune the team saw in 2015 that manifested itself in the 97 regular season wins, it’s possible that the 2016 team could be more talented but win fewer games. It’s been easy for fans to get excited by the lofty projections and preseason rankings, but it’s important to remember that the front office’s work toward succeeding on the field in 2016 doesn’t stop when the offseason stops – even if it’s been a killer offseason.

“I think you can get yourself in trouble if you think you’re taking that last step or two and building the perfect team,” Epstein told the Globe. “Often times it leaves you in a worse spot because it leaves you inflexible to react during the season and address weaknesses that crop up. We have some issues that we’re curious to see as guys respond to new roles.”

To that end, the Cubs’ offseason has been all the more impressive, as they have retained the asset flexibility to make moves in-season as needs emerge, but still filled some of their more prominent holes with serious upgrades. This is not a perfect team, but it’s an excellent one on paper. And, for that reason, the Cubs will have to be all the more willing to react to needs that show themselves before the July trade deadline because this is not a year the organization can afford to sacrifice on the altar of injuries and underperformance.

Hopefully no obvious issues arise, but it’s nice to know that the front office is already planning to be in a position to address those issues if they do pop up, rather than resting on the idea of a “perfect team” or a “perfect offseason.” Again, I don’t want to see big needs arise during the course of the season, but I get pretty excited thinking about how this particular front office could creatively address them.

And hey, the offseason isn’t even over yet. The Cubs probably have a complementary move or two left up their sleeve.

In the interim, read the Globe piece and the CSNNE piece for more from the Cubs’ man in charge.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.