Theo Epstein Talks Cubs on MLB Network Radio

Theo Epstein joined Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden during the Front Office (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) last Sunday morning. The Cubs President of Baseball Operations discussed a variety of topics with the former general managers.

Theo Epstein talked in length about the Wrigley renovations and the possibility of the project not starting as planned this off-season. Epstein discussed Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, the Matt Garza deal and which player he feels will end up being the headliner of the trade in a couple of years. Epstein also talked in length about what the team’s payroll could and should be in the coming years.

Jim Duquette: Our final guest of the show, we appreciate his time. He is the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, he’s Theo Epstein. Theo, its Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden. How are you doing? Thanks for your time today.

Theo Epstein: You’re welcome. Hey guys, good to be on with you.

Jim Bowden: Glad to be with you. So I smiled when I saw this summer that Pearl Jam was playing at Wrigley Field. I remembered that was your favorite group. So I’ve got to ask you, how involved were you in getting Pearl Jam to play at Wrigley number one. And number two, how come you weren’t on stage with those guys.

TE: (laughs) Well, I guess I didn’t mess this one up; we’ll just put it that way. It was real important for us to have those guys here. Eddie being from Chicago, it was really personal for him. We had a lot of rain that night and actually had a two-hour delay but it turned out to be a great night. They got back on stage and played until two in the morning. So it was a special night that a lot of people will remember for a long time.

JD: Were you at least backstage at all?

TE: (laughs) No, I just wanted to appreciate it like a fan. We turned it into a great weekend. We had a good time.

JB: Yea, it’s tremendous that you were able to do that. Speaking of Wrigley Field. A lot of improvements are ahead. Can you kinda break down and talk about what’s ahead and the dollars you guys were able to secure for the improvements going forward?

TE: Yes. It’s actually kind of a misunderstanding out there. We are actually paying for the whole thing ourselves. We didn’t get any public funding for it. So this latest round of negotiations is just been an effort to secure the approvals that we will need from the city and from the neighborhood to make sure everyone’s interests are balanced properly. The Cubs will be paying for the whole thing ourselves. It’s about a $300 million renovation. It includes significant improvements. Inside the ballpark, the seating bowl, new amenities for the fans. The clubhouse will be completely renovated and brought into not only the 20th century but the 21st century (laughs). It will give us basic things like batting cages and proper medical facilities that we really need and lack right now. There is also a significant amount of improvement outside of the ballpark and development around Wrigley including a hotel, an area that will be outside the ballpark that fans can enjoy even when there are not any games. It’s going to be a tremendous renovation, kinda similar to what witnessed around Fenway Park over the course of a decade. Hopefully our renovation won’t take quite 10 years. We’re eager to get started.

JD: When does it look like you will be able to get started and what’s the projected time period to finish it?

TE: Well, with some of the delays that we’ve experienced with everything, it’s complicated around here. We probably won’t be able to start in earnest this winter. You have to order steel and other resources ahead of time and we just don’t have our final, final approvals yet. I think the work will begin in earnest following the 2014 season. Hopefully we can get the new clubhouse online. I think we are going to do that first because our players really deserve it. Then make sure the fans have the most important amenities they need first. Honestly, from a selfish standpoint on the baseball side, we are looking to get some of the revenue generating items done as quickly as possible too. Being in a big market like Chicago, we really need to enhance our revenue stream so we can have a payroll commensurate to our status of being a big market team.

JB: Theo I think, by the way, on the rebuilding. What a great job you guys have done. I know the results at the Major League level are not there but anyone that is following what you guys are doing, your blueprint and how you are doing it; it’s been absolutely to the tee. The trades of Garza and Feldman and the timing or whether it’s your draft picks or whether it’s your international signings. Behind the scenes that the world doesn’t see, you are kicking it. So let’s get to some of these guys because you’ve got a lot of guys doing well. I’ve got to start with a kid that is just tearing it up, Javier Baez. Can you kinda breakdown what he’s been able to do and maybe give us what your timetable is on him now?

TE: Javy is an extremely impressive kid, our first round pick in 2011. The thing that jumps out right away the first time you see Javy play is his bat speed. I mean it is 80 bat speed. The name that most people drop as a comparison, just with the bat speed alone is Gary Sheffield. You kinda roll your eyes when you hear that but if you watch him swing the bat, it is reminiscent of Sheff’s bat speed and you can’t say that lightly. He’s got a chance to be a really well-rounded player. He’s just not bat speed. When he first started his pro career he was a little bit out of control and the bat speed was really the only thing that stood out. He probably took too big a swing; he chased too many pitches, little bit out of control in the field and on the basepaths. But he’s really worked hard on his game to get himself more under control in the batter’s box, tone down his leg kick a little bit, toned down his hips and lowered them a little bit. He’s now swinging at strikes and the ball absolutely jumps off this kid’s bat. He’s got 31 homers, 30-plus doubles between High-A and Double-A at age 20, and he’s really well rounded. He’s got great fielding instincts. We think he can stay at shortstop and also has the baseball mind and the athletic ability to move around the diamond. So he could play third, he could play second, he could probably play outfield, he could probably catch if we needed him to. But realistically he can play anywhere around the infield to and is really working hard. We are proud of the season he’s had developmentally.

JD: Speaking with Theo Epstein. Theo, I want to ask you about Kris Bryant. Both Jim and I had Bryant ranked number one on our list. I know you moved him up to High-A ball. How quickly is he to the Major Leagues? What are your thoughts? What have you seen out of him?

TE: His performance and his development and how quickly he can work on his weaknesses will dictate that but we are really excited to have him in the organization. Raw power is so hard to find in the game these days. Not only Javy, but Kris Bryant too. They don’t have to hit all of the baseball to hit it out of the ballpark. They have the kind of power that can leave the yard to all fields. Bryant is pretty advanced. He was a college player that had a lot of success. Probably more success, in terms of power, than anyone has ever had with these bats they are using now in college. But there are still some things he needs to work on. He didn’t get pitched to a lot in college so see the better pitching and seeing the different attack plans that better pitching is going to have for him will be important. He’s 6-5 and a half. We think he’s got a chance to stick at third base but that’s going to come with a lot of work, especially to his left. There’s some things he needs to work on but another really hard worker and a great kid who had a lot of success in short-season. We have another third base prospect we really like who is 19 years old in Low-A named Jeimer Candelario. Rather than move Candelario up, who is having a really good season in Low-A, we wanted to leave him there because we think that is the appropriate level for him right now. We wanted to test Bryant to see if he could handle High-A. We thought it would be good for him. So far so good. He’s hit a few home runs; he’s hit some doubles and is seeing pitching. He’s seeing what it is like to see when they can throw three really good breaking balls at you in the course of an at bat and make adjustments. We are happy with the early returns so far from Kris.

JB: Theo, you did a tremendous job with the trade deadline with your several trades, highlighted by the Matt Garza deal. Quite a load you were able to bring back from Texas. I was surprised you were able to get the four caliber of prospects that you were able to get. Can you breakdown how that process went? Did you try to sign Matt before that happened? And then going forward in free agency at the end of this year is Garza a guy that you would look at to possibly re-sign?

TE: We did have discussions with Matt at different points over the last 18 months about signing here. The injury probably complicated things on both ends. So it reached a point that is was clear that we probably were not going to work something out, at least not during the season. Given where we are, I think that is one thing we have going for ourselves is that we are honest about where we are as an organization, both internally and externally. It became clear that moving him was the best thing for everybody. He’s a free agent at the end of the year. Anything can happen in free agency but we needed to maximize his value that he represented for just being under contract for 2013. We looked at the Zack Greinke deal and Anibal Sanchez deal as comprobables. Not that he is necessarily Zack Greinke but they are two of the better pitchers that have been moved with only a partial season remaining on their contract under the new collective bargaining agreement. There was one sort of highlight-headline player in the deal, in each of those deals, close to the Major League talented player as well as some depth in the deal. So as we talked to some teams we tried to use that as a model. Texas, ironically, did not match up early using that model so we did what we could do with other teams knowing that Texas was interested. We went back to Texas and said, look you do not stack up as far as having that one player that is close to the big leagues that can carry the deal on his own so because of that here is what we are going to need in terms of volume and in terms of quality. We made sure that C.J. Edwards was in the deal. While not close to the big leagues, we think in a year or two, he’s going to be the guy who can headline this deal. So it came together late with Texas, kinda quickly. We stayed away from them early on purpose because they didn’t necessarily fit the model. We wanted to line some other things up then take it back to them.

JD: Theo, you talked earlier about the revenues, obviously generating more revenues to get your payroll up. In your projections, what is a realistic payroll to be at now? As you said, you guys are a big market club …

TE: Yeah …

JD: Where do you see that maybe two years down the road or whenever you think that is?

TE: Well, I don’t want to drop a number on it because there are so many different variables involved and you don’t necessarily need a big payroll to win. But, I will say this. Back in 2011, the year before I got here, I think the payroll was around $140-$142 million. It is significantly lower than that now just because some of the obstacles we’ve run into. The renovation and having to pay for it ourselves and some other factors. I think clearly the first step is getting it back to where it was and then growing it significantly from there. And we should be able to. These days you really have to follow the TV deals and follow the money. So if you look at teams like Texas, Philadelphia, obviously the Dodgers, places that have gotten the mammoth TV deal they are able to really invest in their product. We don’t have that right now. We are not complaining about it, I don’t want anyone to take it the wrong way. This is a unique opportunity in a big market to focus on a building situation. Our farm system has probably gone from bottom five to top five in a year and a half. It was just ranked as high as second recently. So probably with more money to throw around we probably couldn’t have accomplished the same thing with the farm system. There is no doubt that as out talent gets close to the big leagues we could benefit more from having a little bit more revenue to be aggressive with Major League talent and taking some chances internationally. We still have the opportunity to do that. Half of our TV deal, or just about half of it, depends on how you look at it, is up now and we are in the process or renegotiating that. The other half, the most significant half, is up in 2019. But we should generate a lot more revenues with the renovation. Good thing is that the timing of our baseball plan and the timing of our business plan, more or less sync up. So it could be good synergy between those two movements. The point is to get to a situation where we have a roster that is talented enough to compete at the very highest level. Make the playoffs, have the farm system underneath them where he can get in there eight out of ten years. That’s how we are going to win a World Series and bring a World Championship to Chicago in the first time in over a century. It is not going to be by one fluky season but by becoming a perennial contender with good young players developed here. I think we are taking the first steps to get there. It is not always the prettiest time with when that is going on but we are happy with the foundation work so far.

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  • TheWrongGuy

    Good read thanks again Neil!

  • triple

    Thanks for posting that transcription Neil!

    Sounds like they are sticking to the plan…

  • triple

    It sounds kind of like Castro is gonna try to clear his head of all the crap he’s been told for the last year and a half and do what he knows how to do… I wonder how this will turn out?

    http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/castro-realizing-he-has-do-it-his-way-not-cubs-way

    • cubtex

      Thanks for sharing. The “Cubs Way” has done nothing but harm Castro and Rizzo. I have never seen 2 hitters who had some success in the mlb do a complete 360 like these 2. Castro had 2 and a half full years of success. Rizzo had 8 HR’s in April and will struggle to get to 22 or 23 this year. Baseball is a simple game and the more you complicate it and mess with the way a guy has been doing something his entire career….you will get results like this. Sounds like Castro is finally getting it. He said screw it! It is my career. I am going to go up to the plate and not listen to all this mumbo jumbo and just react. That is the way he did it when he had 200 hits. No player is flawless. He will never be a high walk, high on base guy. According to many scouts…..neither will Javy Baez. WHO CARES! They are special hitters. Guys like Valbuena( who aren’t good hitters) have to bat like that to just make it in the major leagues. When you have a special talent…….Leave them alone!

      “See the ball and hit it – don’t think about it,” Castro said. “This
      year it’s too many things to think about (and) I’m not supposed to
      think (up there). Sometimes you have like a tough season and you want to
      please everybody. But it’s not right. You have to listen to the things
      that can help you – not everything.

      “When you come to the home
      plate, you don’t have any idea, because you listen to too many things.
      That’s what I do. There’s six weeks left. Just be aggressive and be me.”

      • 07GreyDigger

        So if the “Cubs Way” ruined them. Why did they have success last season? Was the “Cubs Way” not implemented then?

        • cubtex

          I know you will defend anything and everything this FO does but explain to me how this hitting approach has helped Castro and Rizzo? Have you not seen their numbers? I would love to hear your reasoning.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I won’t defend everything the FO does, but because I understand what they want to do, I really haven’t found too many things they’ve done I can’t stand. But I will indulge you.

            Ian Stewart: I defended this at first, due to lack of free agency depth at this position. It was worth a flier. But it turned out badly. They should have signed nobody or Donnie Murphy! Haha.

            Minor leaguers:
            This does drive me crazy. When you bring up a minor leaguer. USE THEM. Vitters, Jackson, Watkins come to mind. Why bring up a young guy you want to evaluate and have them rot on the bench? It’s stupid. Bring up Darnell McDonald then.

            Darnell McDonald:
            For a team looking for young controllable players, why sign this guy who has proven he’s not good enough and waste a roster spot?

        • cubtex

          And to answer your first question…do you think that the FO immediately changed the players approach from the very first day? Castro even admits that there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Everyone is in his head telling him this and that. He basically is saying….enough of this BS. I am going back to what I did before when I was successful! Good for Castro!

          • 07GreyDigger

            We don’t really know what the players are going through and I’ll say time and time again, it’s the players who are on the field. Managers do what they do and its up to the players to use it on the field.

            When do we blame the players here? When is it Castro’s fault that he sucks this year? Rizzo’s fault? Is Sveum in the batter’s box with them? Is he in their ear telling them when to swing?

            In terms of Rizzo and Castro, Rizzo may not be the best guy under pressure. He faltered his first year up badly and got better the second time around. His approach has always been the same, so I doubt “the Cubs Way” has ruined him.

            As for Castro, his walk rate is down and his strikeouts are way up. If a guy is being told to be more selective, wouldn’t these be reversed? That makes no sense.

          • cubtex

            He is seeing more pitches per at bat now. What does that tell you? Castro just signed an extension…do you think he feels obligated and compelled to do what he is told? If you just got a raise and your boss tells you that we want you to change your approach and do it this way…would you? Be real.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I wouldn’t follow it to the letter. I’d take their advice and apply it to my situation. That’s what Castro should be doing, if he’s not, he really is the dolt that let a runner score on an infield sac fly.

          • gary3411

            The extension was a bad decision, hated it from day 1. Castro needs motivation, none better than money.

          • Ripsnorter1

            If you want to blame Rizzo, okay, that’s very fine.

            Now let’s blame Team Theo for trading for a platoon 1B, by
            giving up a big gun in Cashman.

            And please don’t say that, “Cashman was hurt all the time,”
            when Team Theo throws Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta
            for a pitcher who is hurt all the time. Others say, “Yeah, but Vizcaino has
            a big arm.” Yeah, but Cashman has a big arm, too.

          • cubtex

            Brian Cashman? Just kidding. I know you meant Cashner. Everyone was ready to say what a steal that trade was….it still could be….but it is far from a slam dunk at this point. Cashner is still cheap and controllable and they could have used a #3 pitcher more than a 1st baseman(who is not special) imo.

          • roseyc

            It’s way too early to say that

          • 07GreyDigger

            It’s the way of the world here.

          • cubtex

            maybe, but he has a long long way to go. Freddie Freeman is the same age. Paul Goldschmidt is young. Those are special 1st baseman.

          • gary3411

            Succesfull? Is that all you want out of Castro a low 300obp, little power and bad defense? That is a below average player. Castro has wayy more talent than that and that is what they are trying to get out of him.

        • triple

          Grey, you know I hate to point out this kind of stuff, but Castro did only have success for the first half of the season, while Rudy was his hitting coach. The thing I remember best about Castro was that he would put together hitting streaks that would get into double digits, and then have an o-for, and then start a new one. If you look at his game logs on baseball reference, here’s what his hits look like back in the Jaramillo days: 2, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 3, 1, and then the streak would end. I didn’t keep track, but counted at least 6 or 7 of these streaks up until June ’12. Since then he’s only had one 10+ game hitting streak, that was at the beginning of this season when he got off to a hot start.

          What I’m worried about is that while he tries to return to do what he knows best, that he fails at it, and then is just even more lost up there.

          What I don’t get is you have a .300 hitter who at his age (1.5 years ago) shows that he has all the potential in the world to earn 3k hits in this game, and people want him to do what he does differently? That’s like someone telling Pete Rose, Tony Gwynn, or even Ichiro Suzuki to change what they’ve done.

          If Castro is a .300 hitter who will hit 30-40 doubles, 5 triples, 10-15 HR, while only walking 30 times, and striking out less than 100 times in a season, so be it. I’d happily bat him anywhere in my lineup if he will come to the park and hit every day. Instead of changing his approach and how he swings the bat, maybe they should put him on a very strict diet and weight training regime if they want more power out of him. Then maybe he can give them 20-30 HR per year, but I’d gladly take what he gave the Cubs for the first 2 years of his career.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I always thought in “changing his approach” that they just wanted him to be more selective and not get himself out on so many strikeouts.

            But I’m not in the dugout or in the pressbox sitting next to Theo and Jed, so I really don’t know what they want out of him.

            I guess I can be perceived as naive for thinking that the team is attempting to change him as a hitter in every facet. But I just don’t see why any team would do that.

          • triple

            Hey Grey, sorry I had a really great reply typed up earlier before I left the house for the day, but then I lost the internet connection and never got to post the reply. So here’s the short version of my reply (but probably still not very short):

            1. You’re not naive!

            2. I’m at a lack of remembering the words I’ve heard/read from Theo/FO/Sveum, but they wanted to “maximize his potential.” i.e. not chase bad pitches which leaves him in a better count for taking better cuts to produce more HR’s and extra base hits. And if pitchers won’t throw him strikes, then take a walk and let the next guy have the opportunity. The result is that he should have a higher OBP and SLG %’s, which is great! But not when they’ve gotten in his ear and he’s bringing that to each at bat.

            So I don’t think what you said is very far off from the reality of what they are trying to “teach” him. But more that it just doesn’t fit to what he’s done throughout his whole baseball career until last year.

            It really is a great approach that every hitter should learn about, but the problem is that Castro already made it to the big leagues with his own approach – 1. see ball, 2. hit ball. I certainly hope he gets his mechanics back to what they used to be, and can thrive in his simple hitting style.

          • Brp921

            I wish I could hit the like button several more times. If Castro is ever going to become more selective it will have to be of his own experience as he grows with the game.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Grey,
          They started messing with Castro late May, 2012. His BA
          immediately tanked. It was written about here on the CCO, and
          talked about on Bruce Levine’s Talkin’ Baseball show (670 the Score).

          Look at Castro’s 2012 splits vs. 2013 Splits
          April .333………………………….277
          May .304…………………………252
          June .264…………………………167
          July .235……………………….292
          Aug .252………………………..188
          Sept .311

          Keith Moreland, if he knows anything, says you cannot change the approach of
          a ML hitter. Once he gets here, it’s too late. They are ruining Castro.

          Of course, Castro is ruining Castro, by fornicating the world. That messes with the mind, too.
          Lawsuits, paternity suits, rape charges, and big contracts (thanks, Team Theo), all
          weigh heavy on the mind, and affect performance.

      • Frank Bonacci

        You may be right about Castro–but not Rizzo. The Cubs’ approach with Rizzo is the same as what he learned in Boston, when Epstein and Hoyer drafted him there, and in San Diego, when Hoyer was GM there.

        • cubtex

          I am sure Rizzo was brought up with a similar approach but now that Rowson and Sveum are in his ear….maybe it is effecting him differently? I don’t know. But all I can tell you is they are both lost. Explain to me this term they are using on the hitters….”Selectively Aggressive” If something screamed at messing with a players head….that is it. We want you to be aggressive but only on certain pitches. Can you see how that would mess with any hitter. Castro is seeing more pitches per plate appearance now than he ever has in his career. How many borderline 3-2 pitches does Rizzo take for strike 3 or relies on the ump on a close pitch because he is being taught OBP and take the walks whenever and wherever? Some hitters need to do what they do. Vlad Guerrero, Yasuel Puig, Miggy Cabrera etc. Work with their skill set and quit trying to make a “One Way” hitting approach for the entire team.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Absolutely. It’s pretty absurd to think that the team expects them all to hit “the same way.” The “Cubs Way” refers to many things besides hitting. Conduct off the field, what they expect of them in the dugout, baserunning, defense, etc.

            Do you really think that in this day and age with all the scouting knowledge, sabermetrics and information available, they think all hitters are the same? They want their hitters to bat exactly the same way?

          • cubtex

            Read Castro’s quotes. He is saying…… I am done with this BS.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I did. And it’s his right. I just don’t know why the light didn’t click on for him sooner. He doesn’t have to do everything they say. It might be, he does what he does and the light goes off, “hey, they were right. I could poke it the other way if I did this.” That’s why a players gets better as they reach their prime. But to blame the manager for how crappy he, himself is playing is weak. I think they’re a factor, but they’re not playing the game. That’s up to the player.

          • TheWrongGuy

            With Castro and especially with Rizzo. While I have been watching most games this year… They are potentially the best hitters in the line-up, only when they are HOT. With that said as we all saw earlier in the season seen how Rizzo was hot then slowly expanded his strike zone. THIS showed his flaw’s as a hitter and exposed him to the rest of the league. Castro was cold most of the season but did get hot for very short spurts, yet he also expanded his strike zone. Now with both our “potentially best hitters” in expanded strike zones. They were easy “pitch around outs” at the plate. “Pitch around outs” : meaning don’t give them anything in the middle of the strike zone to hit. Yet ALL of this is my opinion.
            The worst part of all this is our hitting coaches only seemed to encourage them and NOT coach them away from bad habits.

          • paCubsFan

            I think you all have good points. Something I think is a factor here, also, is the fact that those two, Rizzo and Castro, are now THE focal point of the opponent’s game plan unlike the previous two seasons. And they are seeing the pitcher’s best pitches night in and night out, and they are struggling with that. There’s no Ramirez or Soriano to take off the pressure. They’re young, and they have to adjust.

            IMO, they should be the 2nd tier players in our lineup and do their thing: Castro hit .300 and steal nearly 20 bases, and Rizzo hit .270 and 20-25 HRs, all somewhere around the 3-4-5 spots in the lineup.

          • paCubsFan

            By “around,” I mean none of them should hit 3, 4, or 5 in a good lineup.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I agree. But the problem is there’s no one in the line-up to support them. if Castro gets a hit and Rizzo takes a walk, they end up left on base. There is no support. And to put an add on note about Rizzo taking walks that is what he was taught in the Boston organization. ALL Boston hitters will take a walk if not getting pitches to hit. Castro is the opposite.

          • SuzyS

            Considering how Castro’s defense has improved so much…(LOL) we’re absolutely sure it’s the coaches fault. (Major sarcasm).
            Cubtex et al…Castro is having a down year because HE is not making the adjustments he needs to.
            The coaching may or may not be sub par…(and I do think we need another hitting coach), but let’s put the blame where it belongs…CASTRO… he with the big contract,ego, youth, and inexperience at life.
            HE will get better…when he gets his head in the game….not before.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Face it, Cubtex. Hoyer, Sveum, Theo, Rowson, and the asst. hitting coach Rob
            Deer all deserve 15 year extensions for the good they have done to Rizzo and Castro,
            and all the young players on the Cubs.

            Rizzo is looking like Bryan LaHair….

          • cubtex

            Unfortunately, Rizzo is looking worse than Bryan LaHair.

          • cubtex

            Bryan Lahair had 340 total AB’s in 2012. Lets compare his number to Rizzo with close to the same number at bats.

            LaHair 340 AB’s

            .259 avg 334 OBP 16 HR’s and 40 RBI

            Rizzo first 349 AB’s of this year (he has gotten worse so these are his better numbers)

            .241 avg .328 OBP 13 HR’s and 54 RBI.

            Very similar. Almost scary similar.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I agree 100%.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Yup.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Does this mean that Rizzo will get voted to the all star team and then they will exile him to Japan?

          • 07GreyDigger

            You’re ridiculous. I still don’t get why Rob Deer is a hitting coach. He never did much hitting in the majors.

          • Brandon Walker

            Exactly. He hit .250 in his best season and led the league in strikeouts 4 times. Im fine with them bringing in all these former Brewers to be coaches but the only 2 guys on those teams that have any business teaching anyone how to hit are named Molitor and Yount.

          • Dorasaga

            Nope. Being selective is good for, oh, 80% of the hitters. Management cannot risk the development of the majority of talents for that selective 20%. Ha, good pun.

            Anyway, I like how Castro is thinking. That’s more important than anything else. I’m not writing him off the “developing” list yet, so is Vitters and others.

            They have flaws. They’ll need to fix some of them. They need help, but they need to think and exercise the approach that they can handle.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Rizzo is in his second season fr crying out loud. A “platoon first baseman,”. That’s crazy talk. Te guy has had success against lefties. He’s adjusting and will get etyer. In a few years I predict he will be an all-star. That trade has worked out fine for us and wil only get better.

      • J Daniel

        100% agree with you.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Lahair was like 28 and a journeyman. Rizzo is young and learning. That comparison is apples and oranges.

  • Sonate

    Thanks for the transcript Neil. I think that one reason that many of us (me included) are “on board with Theo’s plan” is that his plan is very well thought out and the transcript reflects that. He has very logical reasons for every move he makes. I’ve not seen this with Cub management since (maybe) 1983 when Dallas Green did sensible things. Hendry? A nice guy but was in over his head. It wasn’t just Soriano’s contract, but he was clueless about Bradley, and pushed a panic button in acquiring Garza. Worse, he could not provide a reasonable justification for any of his moves.

  • Dorasaga

    I’m reading that the President of Baseball Operations didn’t bother to credit his co-worker, President Kenny Crane, for bringing Pearl Jam to Wrigley or renovating the field (oh, did I spell him backward?).

    Feel sorry for Kenny. If this fuse with the Rooftop Leechers can’t solve in a year or two, maybe they’ll just fire Crane. Let’s hope at least the Ricketts can retain him as a Sp. Adviser to the Baseball Operations. That way, at least he won’t sign another 20-year contract with his neighbor or the sewage system.

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  • 07GreyDigger

    I think some of the most important points to this interview revolve around the renovation and how its affecting the product on the field.

    “we are looking to get some of the revenue generating items done as quickly as possible too. Being in a big market like Chicago, we really need to enhance our revenue stream so we can have a payroll commensurate to our status of being a big market team.”

    Sounds to me like they don’t have the budget yet to sign big guys this offseason like Ellsbury. Just because they’re in a major market, doesn’t mean that they have the cash. I don’t think we’ll see any big deals until the renovation is closer to complete.

    I also liked the bits on Baez and Bryant. Especially that Baez can “play all over the diamond,” so need will justify where he ends up.

    • JasonPen

      I never thought of Catcher for Baez, but wouldn’t that be awesome? I don’t think it will happen, but you never know.

    • roseyc

      A good article and Theo is just stating what the facts that the Cubs organization was just horrendeous when he got here in some soft words. He knows that our best prospects are not at triple A or double A but A and we have to wait til they are ready. Which will coincide with renovations. I mean think about it this is Chicago one of the best cities in the country and the ballpark is decrepid when Fenway and Yankee stadium has been renovated and thriving in their historic splendor

      • 07GreyDigger

        It sure is a dump. What stadium do you know of that put up nets to keep concrete from killing people instead of you know, FIXING IT?!

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        The Cubs Way is a state of mind and encompasses everything related to the ball club. It is a refreshing thing and modeled after successful franchises. It will be a model for others in the future.

  • Jason Powers

    Good Info. It syncs up with what I would project, around a 2015-2020 move to consistently be in the playoffs. Foundation first – minor league system. Improve ballpark – 2014 start in winter, maybe it is 100% complete end of 2015. FA markets are slim pickings. Trades are good at times. But I’ll credit Theo, Jed, Jason et. al. for attempting a complete rebuild with 300 million. (The Ricketts have saved 150 million on reducing payroll since 2010.) 2014 will be at around 80million.) Here’s hoping the WS looms in the 2017 season and playoffs in 2016-2020.

  • paulcatanese

    Good article Neil, have to say that it was honest on Epstein’s part. I cannot fault him for that.

  • cubtex

    LOL. Just saw the lineup for tonight. Castro and Rizzo batting 1,2.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Why not keep trying new things!? Now is a good chance to tinker. Why criticize every move? We don’t have all the information the managers do. Keep switching it up. It’s not like a division championship is riding on it.

      • cubtex

        I’m laughing. Not crticizing

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          We’ll compromise and call it mocking ;)

  • texcubnut

    The Cubs will be patient with Mr. Castro and Mr. Rizzo because of their obvious talents and in spite of the years they are having. But patience will only go so far and that is why you keep a well stocked minor league system. I would remind them that Mr. Baez and Mr. Vogelbach’s trains are on a steady track toward the ‘Bigs’ and I don’t see those express engines slowing down. A contract may be guaranteed but a job isn’t!!

    • TheWrongGuy

      very true.

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    I love reading these transcripts here! Thanks !!

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