The most important aspect of the Theo Epstein regime—outside of the fact that he's not Jim Hendry—is the culture change he's bringing to the Chicago Cubs.
It appears players' late-night carousing will no longer be tolerated. Team officials said as much at the love-fest that is known as the Cubs Convention, where they mentioned there are certain standards expected of the players.
That's something that wasn't done previously.
I remember a friend telling me about running into former Cubs pitcher Kyle Farnsworth at a party several years ago. Farnsworth was still there the next morning at 9 AM, even though the Cubs had an afternoon game that day.
Farnsworth got into the game and gave up a homer to Paul Konerko as the Sox overcame a big Cubs lead to win the game.
That has been the bane of the team in the past.
Part of the new culture is trying to determine what players will fit into the philosophy of the Cubs, and adhere to it. You can be sure they will doing their homework before they add someone to the team.
If you think day games and the night life scene in Chicago hasn't had anything to do with the clubs lack of success in the past, you haven't been watching.
It's easy to talk about—enforcing it is another thing. I have a feeling the current staff will no longer put up with a lack of hustle.
Whether the Cubs even allow Soriano to challenge the new accountability depends on finding a taker for his services.
He's said he only wants to go with a contender, which eliminates the recent trade rumors with Baltimore. My question is: Doesn't any team that picks up Soriano automatically lose contender status?
Is there a player in the game today who fits the "loser" image more than he does?
The changes continue with the pitching staff. New pitching coach Chris Bosio is looking for his pitchers to be more aggressive. That means working faster and taking advantage of the entire strike zone. It may even mean going "old school" and knocking batters down who crowd the plate.
Keeping the hitter honest opens up the outside corner for the pitcher to utilize. It's something the Cubs have been reluctant to do in the past, and it's a refreshing approach to how they see the game being played.
Even adding a "party deck" to the right field bleachers is a smart move. They're trying to utilize every asset they have in a confined space to maximize profit, which can then be put back into the team.
Everything takes time, and there is no magic formula. All you can do is have a plan and follow it.
That's something that has been lacking with the Cubs in the past.
The Cubs are already more balanced, adding left-handed hitters to the team, and depth to the starting staff. Everything might not be quality yet, but they are getting pieces and trying to fit them into what they are doing.
There are still many changes to come. The team will either add or subtract, depending on how things play out.
For once, the Cubs are working on the puzzle to make it work — instead of just being puzzled.
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