The Book of Theo Epstein: Keep Reading, it Gets Better

The Book of Theo Epstein: Keep Reading, it Gets Better
Cubs President Theo Epstein has a plan.

Theo Epstein had a message for all of baseball after last season.

“…the Cubs are coming fast and the Cubs are coming strong,” he said.

Well, maybe they aren’t coming as fast as Epstein made it seem, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t on their way. Epstein has a plan.

Hang in there.

The Cubs may never be a game over .500 this year but that isn’t a concern for the Cubs front office just yet.  With another slow start to the season, fans have already begun another summer-long bender. Can you blame them?

As most Cub fans know, the plan Epstein has in place is going to take time. It’s important to look past the wins and losses on the field as Theo is trying to rewrite history for this franchise. His book isn’t finished yet, and in many ways it has just begun.

The story may bore you at times but it’s all part of the plot. The ending is something fans will want to wait around for.

Chapter 1 - “Out with the old; in with the new” (2011-2013)

As much as we fell in love with Cubs like Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano, it was time to get younger and cheaper. The Cubs were able to get rid of big contracts in order to save money and improve the organization’s farm system.

But while the farm system was on its way, the Cubs major league team hit rock bottom. They had three straight 90-loss seasons featuring players that even a die-hard Cubs fan won’t remember.

Fans are now seeing players the Cubs either drafted or traded for develop through their system. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora are guys the Cubs are counting on. With the farm system improved, it was clear chapter one was over and chapter two was beginning.

Chapter 2 - “The losing continues” (2013-present)

This chapter involves something Cubs fans are familiar with: losing.

As bad as it looked, the Cubs were getting better. So don’t go grabbing another Old Style just yet. Fans may choose to skim over this part, but why stop now?  The plot is coming together and the climax is just around the corner.

We are starting to see Cubs prospects come to the Majors. First it was Junior Lake and now it’s Mike Olt’s turn. Olt won a job during spring training and has shown promise early this year.

If Javier Baez can stay healthy and swing the bat like the Cubs know he can, we can maybe see him later this season.

This trend will continue into 2015 when Kris Bryant and Albert Almora make their way up through the farm system. Nobody will be able to tell you when exactly this will happen, but their time is coming.

Rebound years from Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo will be important too. With both of them showing improvements over last year, the “core” can still be in place when the younger guys are ready.

As of now, players like Emilio Bonifacio and Ryan Kalish have filled in nicely, but they may not be in the plan with the youngsters knocking on the door. We could see the Jeff Samardzija era come to an end, but he is making a case to stay in the Cubs’ future plans as he has pitched like a true number one so far. It’s ultimately up to Epstein.

The losing might carry over into 2015, but when prospects start to come up one by one, you should start to see improvements. And by the conclusion of next season, we can put an end to chapter two.

Chapter 3 - “Winning” (2016-?)

The manuscript has been written. If the Cubs stay on schedule, 2016 will be the year the organization will be resurrected from the dead. With the players the Cubs have gathered, losing will be a thing of the past.

With everything in place, the Cubs can be contenders and compete on a yearly basis. And hopefully Theo can write his final chapter:

“The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions.”

Hang in there Cub fans. Your time is coming.


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  • 1. They got rid of Soriano, but they didn't get rid of the obligation to pay his contract through 2014.

    2. It isn't totally up to Theo if Jeff has already decided that he is going into free agency at the end of the 2015 season.

    3. You certainly haven't provided a compelling reason to buy tickets in 2014 or 2015, unless Jeff exceeding Quintana's record of no decisions draws fans. You don't even invoke the 105 year old mantra of "wait until next year."

    4. Maybe the Cubs' best hope is to keep drawing sloppy teams like last night (with Dunn having a brain fart at third). Even so, it appears that Cubs fans did not stay into the 12th inning (as the sparse crowd seemed to be cheering Semien). That's not a good sign.

  • In reply to jack:

    1). They did trade him and got Corey Black who looks like he could be at the very least a good arm at the back of the Bullpen. I think it was worth it.

    2) you are right it is up to Samardzija and he has pretty much told everyone what his plans are. So it is time to get over it and move forward.

    3) Who says that Baez, Bryant, Almora don't come up at some time during that. Time frame and the way Castro and Rizzo look like they are rebounding. That is a good reason to good to games as any.

    4) The key to the Cubs future is not wins and losses this year or even next year. It watching the young core players like Castro, Rizzo, Baez, Bryant, and Almora develop. Is it possible some don't yes. But it doesn't mean its a failure. If Baez tanks and Bryan makes it, that's a win. If Alcantara makes it and Soler tanks its a win. If we can get 3 or 4 of the top ten to the major league level and they have some kind of success its a win.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    4. Whatever the key to the future (and the author defined it as 2016 and beyond), the finance side better figure out where the source of ticket revenue will be until getting to "winning," as I doubt that they can rely on Wrigley drawing as a beer parlor for much longer.

  • In reply to jack:

    the houston Astros were reported as the team with the biggest profits last year.. dont remember them drawing too many fans. Wonder why its important to get young/cheap long term assets when you are a loser??

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Then you are getting to the Wittenmyer point (generally reviled here) that the Cubs are just cheaping out, apparently as the Astros are, and what everyone accused Loria of doing, although the line now is that the Marlins are rebuilding, too.

    There was the earlier debate here about Tom telling Old Joe that the Cubs will make money no matter how bad they are. Maybe the fans need to show otherwise.

  • In reply to jack:

    they arent "cheaping out" - they are re-building.. and comparing to loria is laughable.. loria's fire sale was to guys who still had years on their contract. typically you only shop players with expiring contracts. but whatever you want to think

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Well Miami claimed that they got prospects for Buehrle. So, if you want to call it potato or vodka, it still is an empty bunch of calories.

    Let's see if Miami or the Cubs win the World Series first. As I mentioned before, how many WSs have the Cubs and Miami one since the Marlins were founded? That score is 0 to 2.

  • In reply to jack:

    I meant won. Homonym breakdown in the brain.

  • In reply to jack:

    their will be teams who win the WS before the cubs do.. and maybe it is the marlins. :shrugs

  • In reply to jack:

    also.. miami had the 2nd worst attendance last year.. fyi

  • In reply to jack:

    Why are you so obsessed with the Marlins? Before the Sox won in 2005 the Marlins had already won it twice. So I don't really understand why you keep bringing up the Marlins. You can also argue that a lot of teams will win the World Series before the White Sox do again.

  • In reply to jack:

    The Wittenmyer point is reviled because it has no basis in reality. He has no proof of anything, he just keeps posting his claims and certain rubes (people who hate the Cubs like yourself or self-loathing Cubs fans who ask dumb questions at the convention) gobble it up.

    Wittenmyer believes that past dictates future. That the current regime hasn't spent money (although they have tried with Tanaka, Darvish, Cespedes and Anibal Sanchez) so therefore they will never spend money. When it was clear in 2009 and 2010 that things weren't working out and the window was closed, when it looked like all of Hendry's deals were now albatrosses (albatri?) it was Wittenmyer and others who were ripping on the Cubs for having a terrible farm system, for not having an eye on the future.

    Other than Abreu, the Cubs and Sox are actually in very similar positions right now. The Sox have a few core guys on their roster that they have extended, and that they can build around (Sale and Quintana) and also Garcia and possibly Semien although it seems you don't know what you have with him. The Cubs have a few core guys on their roster they have extended and that they can build around (Rizzo and Castro) and also Wellington and possibly Mike Olt although it seems you don't know what you have with him. Ironically the Cubs have much better pitching than the White Sox do, even though the White Sox core is built around pitching. The White Sox have a much better offense than the Cubs, even though the Cubs core is built around hitting.

    There is Abreu, so right now advantage White Sox. But the White Sox farm system is brutal, while the Cubs is excellent. And while you know now what you have with Abreu, you don't know what you will get. IFAs have a tendency to come back to earth. Along similar lines you know what you have in the minors with the Cubs prospects, but you don't know what you will get when they finally come up.

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    1. You seem the obsessed one. My point only was that both Cubs and Marlins management claim to be rebuilding, but only one has gone to the World Seriews in the past 20 years.

    2. The Sox have generally been subject to budget constraints due to low attendance. The Cubs have not. But Ricketts must be really under some budget constraints if he isn't spending money on the MLB side, and basically says he can't, nor can proceed at all with the building construction plans until he gets the Jumbotron, and some outside investors as well. No work on the clubhouse, no work on the hotel, no big signings other than Jackson, nothing....

    3. You seem convinced by Theo's statements that the money will be there when the time comes. Apparently, others don't take that on faith.

    Basically, you are the person with no basis in reality. Otherwise, you explain #2.

  • In reply to jack:

    Of the two of us, who is trolling on the blog of a team he isn't a fan of? I still don't understand what the Marlins have to do with anything at all. Who cares about the Marlins? They won their first two titles mostly via free agent acquisitions that they then sold off the very next offseason. Not to mention the current GM of the Marlins had nothing to do with either of those teams. So what the Marlins have done in the past, just like what any team has done, has no bearing right now. You keep bringing up the Marlins and they are rebuilding and so are the Cubs. The fact that the Marlins have won titles doesn't mean anything to whatever debate you're trying to have.

    The Cubs also don't have spending restrictions. They have tried to sign Tanaka, Cespedes, Darvish and Anibal Sanchez. They would have had to pay any of them a lot of money had they chosen the Cubs. Where was that money going to come from? Obviously the money is there if they are trying to spend it. Just because they haven't spent it doesn't mean it's not there. They didn't go after Cano or Choo, which I'm fine with. They both got ridiculous deals and neither would have done anything except get this team to .500.

    Does Ricketts have $300 million to spend? No, of course not. Who does? Teams aren't purchased with cash and the Cubs are no exception. Of course he needs revenue to renovate the stadium, because he couldn't con the state into renovating it for him by threatening to move to Florida.

    I don't take anything on faith, I just have no evidence either way regarding the money being there when the time comes. As I've already pointed out, they have tried their hardest to give several players fairly massive contracts but were unable to. That tells me they have money to spend. In all of those proposed deals I haven't heard anything about creative negotiating and backloading contracts either, so it's not like they're trying to get free agents here and pay them $4 mill to start and then have that deal increase exponentially the longer they are here. So if they have money to spend now, only they've been unable to, then it's safe to assume they will have money to spend next year, and the year after.

  • In reply to jack:

    So, I see you are back at being Jenna of High Gloss and Sauce and using the insult "troll."

    You list all the players they "tried" to sign, but didn't sign any. How does that prove that sufficient money is there if they couldn't make a deal with any of them? Some of them must have been mercenary enough to would have taken the money if it has been offered (at least in amounts that would have exceeded Seatlle's offer, for instance, even if they can't beat the Yankees).

    You still haven't explained why the Jumbotron, and apparently the Bud and Captain Morgan ads on it, seem to be a necessary condition to doing anything.

    BTW, why don't you go over to the DeRosa interview and argue with Tom Loxas about his characterization of "tanking?" Other than that, why don't you post an audited financial report of the Cubs to back up your nonsensical assertions?

  • In reply to jack:

    What the hell does Jenna of the High Gloss mean? Jesus.

    So you think the Cubs should have signed Robinson Cano? For all that money? To a guy who is how old? The Cubs tried the spending approach and it didn't work, and when those players started to regress they had no one in their farm system.

    What is your point here exactly? What are you trying to prove to Cubs fans? You're clearly a White Sox fan and you're here posting on a Cubs blog. Is your point that the Cubs are rebuilding wrong? That the Sox are doing it better? What is your point?

    I don't have audited financials, no one does, that's my point. No one really knows what is going on except the front office and ownership. The Cubs are terrible now, I don't think anyone is denying that. But the White Sox are pretty bad also, outside of Abreu. And you can't predict what will happen to Abreu. Maybe he'll go the way of most other IFAs and eventually regress.

    I'd really just like to know what you are trying to prove here.

  • In reply to jack:

    1. It appears that you are now a "sock puppet" according to Wikipedia, if you want to be trading internet insults. Otherwise,why don't you look Jenna, that adherent of the insult "troll" up?

    2. My point isn't yours that after you bring up that the money is there to sign all sorts of people, whether I would sign them. My point is that the evidence of what Ricketts has done on the ML baseball side of the operation and the business side of the operation indicates that the money is not there, and he hasn't shown how the money is going to be there in the future if he keeps putting such a mediocre team on Wrigley Field that the fans, and presumably TV sponsors, won't pay what Ricketts needs.

    So, foam about what this rookie may bring in the future, or what someone now who isn't getting out of Tennessee is going to do 3 or 4 years down the line. Quit playing fantasy baseball and figure out that Ricketts so far hasn't gotten results, nor has a realistic timeline for getting them. If you can't figure out that's the point, stick to playing MLB 2017 on your smart phone, PlayStation, or whatever.

    BTW, the last two nights show that my 45 win prediction for the 2014 Cubs isn't that far off. Did you sit through the past two games in Wrigley Field to the end?

  • In reply to jack:

    and it appears, according to Wikipedia that you are a troll. As far as I can tell Jenna is another blogger on Chicagonow, again I don't know who the hell she is.

    I still don't get why you are posting here though. Are you trying to convince us all that we are wrong to be Cubs fans? When Theo took over he laid out his plan and this was part of it, I don't know why people are surprised that they suck. And yes, attendance is down, no one is denying that either. The plan was to rebuild the farm system and it meant some very lean times for the major league club. There was also an understanding that the Cubs would be open to free agents if they fit. Guys like Tanaka, Sanchez etc...the free agent philosophy is to pay for future performance, not past performance. So Robinson Cano didn't really make much sense. And other than Abreu the White Sox have basically done the same thing, only they haven't yet rebuilt their farm quite like the Cubs. The White Sox traded established vets for younger, unproven players. Sure those players are slightly more major league ready, but the Sox are attempting a rebuild without calling it a rebuild.

  • In reply to jack:

    Since, Mr. Sock Puppet, it is manifest that you can't get the point, I'm done with you. Happy?

  • In reply to jack:

    Oh crap, you're done with me? Are you sure, Mr. Troll? Because I feel like you were basically on the precipice of convincing me. I have all my Cubs stuff in a pile covered in lighter fluid. Drop the match yes or no?

  • In reply to Mikethoms:

    yeah sorry, I have two logins here because I forgot my password on my computer and it just stays logged in on my phone to my other one.

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    In reply to jorel1114:

    The only thing I've seen that comes close to a comprehensive breakdown of the financial situation is Brett Taylor's exhaustive piece on Bleacher Nation, which I've referenced before. Again, it's info that was culled from many sources and contains some assumptions and estimates due to the fact that none of the stuff is public. But it does point out pretty clearly that the financial constraints are real and are that additional revenue streams are indeed required to make any growth in the near term. It's very complicated but he makes many good points.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jack:

    I think the impetus to keep reading is that there's a payoff at the end. I've watched plenty of movies (I am borderline illiterate, so reading books is not a good option) that started very slowly and made me want to turn them off. Had I done so, I'd have missed the final action and the realization that all that slow building was putting together the pieces for the conclusion.

    Those people who didn't stick around for the end of last night's game may have gotten tired of reading or couldn't stay awake long enough to safely drive home or something. But it's clear that many people have dropped off; even the Saturday win over the Cards wasn't a sell-out.

    I get it though, it's easier to pull for a winner now. But I just hope all the people who are complaining and giving up now aren't going to come flooding back talking about how they knew it would work all along. And maybe it won't and they can all be happy in the knowledge that their criticism was valid.

    The reason to keep watching is because you're a fan and you know that each day gives a new chance to watch your team compete and get a chance to win, even if the reality of the situation is that those wins are not as frequent as you'd like.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    I was watching on the tube, but it was pretty evident that after 9 innings, the stands were pretty empty, and the crew took a shot of the rooftops, where there was only one person left, and Stone pointed out that he had all the room to spread out.

    Maybe the view of the stands will be different tonight as WGN will be carrying the Cubs version, but also maybe part of the strategy is to make the games so bad that that runs the rooftop operators out of business. I assume that if anyone wanted to stay on the rooftops, they could have bought beer after the 7th.

    Or it might be that Sox fans are frugal, and wanted to see what they paid for, until the bitter end.

  • In reply to jack:

    On my "maybe the view will be different on Tuesday" turned out not to be true. While the stands were full of people with pink shirts earlier in the game, by the top of the 9th, Len said "the blue shirts seem to be filing out early." Again, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of cheering for the Sox rally.

    BTW, Jackson pitched well, but proved that he can't bunt in the clutch. He set up to bunt in advance and took strike two when the pitcher threw a low strike under the bat. Then, on strike 3, he bunted a foul ball, which PitchTrax showed was right down the middle, and was out.

    Olt also demonstrated that he's not a gold glover at 3B.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    its the "NOW NOW NOW" generation

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    Then maybe they ought to spend their money on WWE and MMA. Maybe they already are.

  • In reply to jack:

    good for them than?!?

  • Great post...have you forwarded it on to Gordon Wittenmyer yet? Or is he hard to reach holed up in his bunker?

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