Cubs Theo Epstein opens up about his limitations

Cubs Theo Epstein opens up about his limitations

It seems every time Cubs President Theo Epstein opens his mouth I learn something new.

I may learn something about baseball or about the man himself. This time I learned a little regarding both subjects.

In another great piece by CSN’s Patrick Mooney, Epstein speaks openly about his public role and the Cubs financial situation. Epstein speaks very honestly about his low level of comfort when it comes to the public side of his job.

I even wonder if he is too honest for his own good sometimes.

We can all appreciate the fact the Cubs President wants to concentrate on the baseball side of things. That is in fact what he was brought here for. However, it may not be the best idea to openly share you don’t like dealing with people and that you can fake it with the best of them. It kind of gives them an advanced scouting report on you, if you will.

“I can turn it on,” Epstein said. “It’s a requirement of the job to do it. But it’s work and I actively hate it as I do it. I can go into situations – like a cocktail party or things like that – where I need to schmooze and I have to set my soul aside. It’s not something I can pull off on a daily basis. I loathe it.”

Either way, Mooney points out that Theo enjoys ample latitude publicly due to his resume. It is also assumed that he maybe the only exec that most Cubs fans would buy into what he has sold them so far.

Speaking of selling jobs, did Tom Ricketts sell Epstein on having more resources? If you listen to Theo, he sounds like he may be a bit surprised he couldn’t put some more money into this project thus far. Albeit, it sounds like the purse strings could be opened up in lockstep with his timeline to win.

“Our ability to leverage our market size into financial advantages is more difficult than I expected,” Epstein said. “I thought that would have been something that was easier for us to do – and do now, Instead, it’s something that is out of necessity probably several years away. But given the timeline we’re on, that’s not the worst thing in the world as long as we get there.”

Epstein pointed to potential “watershed events,” like the option to end the undervalued WGN television deal after the 2014 season and the revenues pouring in from a renovated Wrigley Field. The comments could also be timed just right by no accident.

The team President is letting the public know a rehabbed Wrigley will help his cause in building a winner at deadline time for a deal.

I thought you weren’t good at this sort of thing Theo, wink, wink.

Filed under: Cubs Organization

Tags: Theo Epstein


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  • Perhaps the money the Cubs now have to spend to rehab Wrigley (versus what they had hoped might come from the City/State) is what is creating the new limitation Epstein is referring to.

  • Sure but the Carlos Pena deal still gives me nightmares. The fact they can bankroll the $500 mil helps me sleep.

  • I always try and read between lines and it may have just been posturing as well but I believe there is truth to it.

  • Between now and Aug 1 he has enough to think about. With the
    1) June draft
    2) International signings in July
    3) Trades in Mid season for great/good prospects

    Let other people do their jobs

  • Yes and those dates could really push this thing along.

  • It's a bit of a copout. Yes, it'd be very awesome if the Cubs could maximize their market advantage even more. This was still the No. 2 revenue team in the NL last year and No. 4 overall.

  • In reply to Kyle:

    No matter what we should be able to crush anyone in our division with resources.

  • As long as good amount goes into the total budget that includes the
    draft and farm system.

  • $Resources are great, but its the scouting and development teams Theo has put in place that do the critical work. It's their decisions that make the most impact.

  • I think that when he was talking about how surprised he was it was an allusion more to the constraints on big market teams put in place by the CBA right after he arrived.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I agree elusivekarp. It seemed like the way they were going to exploit the latest perceived "market inefficiency" as a big market money team, was to spend big in the acquiring of amateur talent. And as you have said, the latest CBA has really limited that approach. Always speaking carefully, Theo knows better than to come right out and rip the CBA, Selig, etc. so he speaks in generalities.

  • Just to toss this out there for comments. If you can't dream a little before opening day, when can you? Let's say the young core (Castro, Rizzo, Barney, Samardzija) continue to make positive strides forward this year, that the premier prospects also continue to impress and convince the FO that they aren't too far away, and that they land a future ace in the June draft. Let's also assume that the FO lands some quality prospects come July by dealing their short-term assets. If all of those things come to fruition, how soon could the Cubs consider spending on the FA market to acquire premier missing pieces?

    Surely they wouldn't spend on players who figure to be well past their primes a couple years from now, but I have a player in mind that I wonder if the FO would seriously pursue. That player is Robinson Cano. I realize that he's on the wrong side of thirty now (barely) and that they would be paying for past production. But they would also figure to be paying for some prime future production as Cano has arguably just entered the onset of his prime years. The Cubs could really use an established impact bat in the middle of their lineup as the youngsters (Baez, Soler, Jackson) try to establish themselves, especially a LH bat. Cano has played in at least 159 games every season for the past six years and is undeniably one of the best in baseball. Would Cano make sense for the Cubs at this point of their rebuild?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WSorBust:

    Cano is Soriano.

    Cano will be older when he becomes a FA than Soriano was when we signed him.

    Cano is exactly what we're trying to avoid.

    Cano would be a better fir for a team like the Rangers or Tigers. Teams that are ALMOST there and think they just need one.more.piece.

    You admitted that you're paying for past production. That is really the cardinal sin of free agency. That's what you DON'T do. Epstein has said himself they aren't willing to do that.

    Dropping big money of a 31 year old second baseman doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Especially considering Baez most likely ends up at 2B.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Solid argument except for the "Cano is Soriano" part. Cano is ten times the player that Soriano ever was, even when the Cubs first signed him.

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    In reply to WSorBust:

    I think he meant he's Soriano in terms of a FA on the wrong side of 30 who will get paid big bucks and alot of years for past performance and would be a huge mistake long term. Not necessarily in terms of skill level.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    totally. I probably should've said Cano is now what Soriano was then.

    (but let's not forget that way back when Soriano was a 40/40 guy. NOT to say that makes the contract okay, but just pointing out that despite his dropoff, he was once a beast. The key word being dropoff. People are high on Cano now. But someone will probably give him 150M give or take, and if his performance drops off a cliff, everyone will forget his current stats reeeeaal quick.)

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    After seven season in the bigs, Cano has a total of 31 WAR. His first seven seasons, Soriano had a total WAR of 30.5. Pretty good comparison it seems.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    Exactly this. Cano is exactly the kind of player we've tried NOT to overpay for anymore. Every point is spot on.

  • Call me crazy but I just don't think it will be huge FA. It could be more like adding pitchers maybe one like they tried with Sanchez.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I agree.

    The 2015 FA class has some intriguing pitchers. Masterson, McCarthy, Gallardo, Cueto. Some may not make it, but if they do I could see the FO puching hard for them. Especially Masterson.

    Latos is a FA in 16.

    Outside of a really legitimate pitcher that isn't too old, I don't see major FA moves.

    They'll continue to pick up guys like Maholm, Feldman, Baker, etc. Because that's just smart baseball.

    If the Cubs are going to be spending big, I prefer it to be on guys like Rizzo, Baez, Almora, and Soler, when their respective times come.

  • I agree. Free agency for top talent is quickly becoming very difficult.

    One move I think is on the Cubs radar is trading for David Price and then signing him long term. Ace's are getting locked up before they hit the market by the teams that can afford to do it. But the Rays likely cannot afford it, and besides developing an ace of your own, which is difficult enough, trading for one is about the only way to get one.

    In negotiations with the Rays, there will come a point where the price (no pun intended) is too high, but I'm willing to give up a lot. If you want to win a world series, you almost have to have a true ace. Last year, it was Cain. The year before, Carpenter. In 2010, Cain and Lincecum. In '09, Sabathia. In '08, Hamels. In '07, take your pick, Beckett, Schilling, Buchholz. In '06, Carpenter. You have to go all the way back to '05 when the White Sox, who did everything with smoke and mirrors that year, won it without a clear cut ace on their staff. (I wouldn't call Jon Garland, Mark Buerhle or Jose Contreras aces, would you?) Right now, the Cubs don't have a clear cut ace either. And it is becoming less and less likely that they will be able to sign one...

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    In reply to Quedub:

    This is one of the reasons I'm uneasy about trying to win too many games when we're not really ready. I'd like to load up o prospects for trade just like Price, and do so without sacrificing building from within.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    I think they will be very patient and fans like us will too .

  • In reply to Quedub:

    More likely is Cubs trade for ace at deadline when things are falling into place.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    The rarity of an ace becoming available via trade may not allow the Cubs to time his acquisition to when things are falling into place. When Price becomes available, I think you have to make your best play for him and trust your rebuilding plan will work.

    All of that gets worked out in the trade negotiations. A team's proximity to contending will affect what they're willing to give up. If there's a powerhouse out there that is winning now and stocked in their organization, they would likely be willing to give up more than the Cubs would in their current situation.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I would call Jose Contreras an ace in 2005, especially in the second half of that year and in the post season. He was 11-2 in the 2nd half with a 1.142 WHIP, a 2.96 ERA and held batters to a .236/.289/.343 avg/obp/slg. In the post season, he was 3-1 with a 0.875 WHIP. Not quite Rick Sutcliffe in the 2nd half of '84 (12-0 with a 1.056 WHIP, a 2.93 ERA and batters slash line of .220/.266/.348) but pretty dang close. Plus Contreras performed better in the post-season, as I can painfully attest. I think Contreras qualified as an "ace" for the 2005 White Sox. Unfortunately.

  • After this season FA's looked at should be under 32 and no more
    than 4 years for hitters and 3 for pitchers. Long term contracts
    should be for our own players when they reach that level. NO
    bad long term and big salary FA contracts any more. Theo/Jeb
    should not have to please the fans or media to prove that they are
    doing a great/good job.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Are you saying that it is a good idea to sign our own players to long term deals but not other team's free agents? Unless our own FA is willing to give the club a substantial home team discount, wouldn't it be as risky to sign your own players as it would be to sign one from another team? I mean, unless the other team made their FA a qualifying offer and the Cubs would lose a draft pick.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WSorBust:

    Because signing your own guys who you've developed and created a fanbase around is a slightly lower risk move. Nonetheless, were entering an age where there won't be young, impact players in FA anymore. Teams are locking their core guys up.

    And the chances of a team not offering a Qualifying offer to a impact FA is slim to none with the current CBA.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WSorBust:

    Not to split hairs here, but the idea is to resign your in-house developed star players before they reach FA status, like we just did with Castro.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Exactly I always loved what Indians did in 90s lock them up early. You won't always win every one but save a lot of $.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    We've got a good start in the process.
    The Castro contract blew my mind. We practically robbed him. He's locked up until 30. Just beautiful.

    I hope we do the same with Rizzo, but I wouldn't mind at all if we locked him up for longer. First basemen tend to have pretty long careers and can be plenty productive.

  • fb_avatar

    In other news, the Marlins have doubles jumped Jose Fernandez over AA and AAA to the fifth starter spot in their rotation.

    Yeah, that just happened.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    They will end up regretting that when he's up for arbitration in a few years and they have to trade him lol

  • Someone break up the Astros

  • fb_avatar

    Am I the only one that hopes the Astros clubhouse has "Major League playing on a loop?
    Sure the FO wants to lose, but the players and managers aren't nearly so inclined.

    The fact that there's 23 MLB players that will make more than the whole team combined this year HAS to be insulting to the players on that team.
    The fact that the highest paid player makes below league average...
    The fact that notoriously cheap franchises like Oakland and Tampa have double to triple the salary.

    I'm not saying they're going to shock the world. I'm still sane.

    I just think it would be nice if this club focused all their energy into winning just enough games to screw up the Astros "let's draft #1 overall for the next seven years" plan.

    If they could claw their way to 66-68 wins, and keep themselves out of next years top 3 draft picks, I would be very amused.

  • This is kind of a warning note to me. Epstein could be saying the stuff about resources to help the Wrigley renovation along, or he could be doing it to light a fire under the Ricketts family, who aren't living up to their end of things. The latter is what scares the poopsmith out of me. I'm thinking it's the former but time will tell.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I wouldn't get concerned about that. All indications have been that the ownership is all in with investing for a winner. They are smart enough to know that winning will make them a ton of money, and they are Cubs fans themselves.

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