Theo Epstein will take control as general manager of the Chicago Cubs as soon as the Cubs and Boston Red Sox finalize the deal. Epstein takes the reins of the Cubs after the haphazard tenure of Jim Hendry.
In nine years, Hendry oversaw moderate success. Hendry's Cubs teams made the playoffs twice and went to the National League Championship Series once.
However, Hendry didn't do a terrific job running the baseball side of the Cubs in his nine years as general manager.
Hendry spent fortunes on players who weren't worth their pay (e.g. Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez), and the ChiCubs minor league system was as unproductive as ever.
Epstein will be a refreshing hand leading the club. Following are five ways he'll recalibrate the Cubs organization.
Epstein will have a total housecleaning of the Cubs front office; lkely, this means bringing his associates from the Red Sox to help lead the Northsiders.
In the ideal situation, he would have the people who helped him make the Red Sox the overwhelming success they were under his guidance.
Bringing successful new people would be a terrific change for an organization that has made a practice of being mediocre.
Epstein will turn Chicago's farm system into a productive one.
The Cubs have had numerous minor league players who never come around, such as Angel Guzman and Eric Patterson, as they have hit the majors only to fall flat.
Epstein will ensure that fruitful talent is produced.
Epstein will put good managers at minor league clubs and will hire first-rate and keen scouts to help find the right high school and college gems.
Cubs president Crane Kenney has been involved the Cubs' affairs for the last two years. This is a domain where Kenny doesn’t belong.
Kenney isn’t a baseball mind—Kenney is a former Chicago Tribune lawyer who worked his way up the corporate ladder.
Kenney has been a nuisance by sticking his nose in the wrong places—e.g. sitting in on baseball meetings where he doesn’t belong, and asking all the wrong and poor questions.
Frankly, his involvement has slowed the team.
Epstein will have none of this as general manager. Epstein may ask to be both president and general manager and distance Kenney from baseball affairs.
Epstein will kindly ask Kenney to deal specifically with his forte in business affairs to which he is assigned. This should make for smoother front office operations.
This may seem like a surprise, but Theo Epstein will cut the fat off the payroll. As the new GM, will trade disappointing players who undeservedly have big contracts.
Alfonso Soriano, who, at 35, has seen his fruitful years pass, will be traded to a team that believes he still has much to offer. And pitcher Carlos Zambrano will be encouraged to retire if he can’t behave. Epstein can’t have an $18 million player who throws tantrums.
Epstein will bring invaluable lessons from his time in Boston.
He won’t make any ill-fated signings like he did with John Lackey and Carl Crawford, while avoiding huge investments in empty talents like Daisuke Matsusaka.
Epstein will learn his lesson out of necessity, as the Cubs are looking to gain public funds for renovations. Cubs Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs Julian Green can enhance his presentation to city and state politicians by talking about the Epstein hire.
Nevertheless, Epstein must show a commitment to thrifty spending in order to attract public funds. Besides, this is a time of austerity.
For far too long, winning for the Cubs has been a passing fancy.
At times, the Cubs have sometimes dedicated themselves. Hendry hired successful, big-name managers, such as Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella. However, after Piniella left, Hendry underwhelmed Cubs fans by upgrading interim manager Mike Quade to manager.
The Cubs have developed talent that never bloomed to full capability at the major league level. Corey Patterson was hot in the minors but squandered his talents with bad plate discipline and dwelling on mistakes, ditto for Hee-Seop Choi, and Mark Prior was set to become the next great flamethrower, but Baker gave him too many innings too soon.
Theo Epstein will ensure that the Cubs become a winning franchise. He will hire the right managers who bring the most out of players. This means that Quade won’t last long.
Epstein will see that players develop and true talent will prosper. Developed homegrown players will group with intelligently acquired players.
As the new GM, Epstein may not make the Cubs winners overnight. Nevertheless, Epstein will build the Cubs into a winning franchise.
He’ll make them perennial contenders, just as he made the Red Sox.