Theo Epstein

They Should Have Passed

The recent announcement that Edwin Jackson was DFAed finally ends the long saga of undoubtedly Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s worst acquisition for the Cubs. Jackson, signed to a 4-year/$52 million contract prior to the 2013 season, struggled mightily in 2013 and 2014 before being demoted to the bullpen. Overall, he finished with a 5.37 ERA in 347 innings with the Cubs. Yet Jackson isn’t the only player the front office should have passed on. Below I review the top “misses” since Epstein/Hoyer took over in late October 2011. I've listed them in chronological order rather than ranking them: feel free to weigh in on which you think is the worst or if there are any clunkers that I missed (I've tried to purge some recent players from memory, so omissions are possible).  

Theo Was Chatty Today

I guess Theo had a press conference today, lots of stuff is said at press conferences, some of it actually has merit, some of it is bullshit. Only time will tell us which is which, but here's an aggregation of quotes from twitter. I won't attribute each one indivudually, but mostly coming from Jesse Rogers, Bruce Levine, Jordan Bernfield, Jon Greenberg, Bruce Miles and Paul Sullivan.

In no particular order...

Theo Sez

Saturday's weekly "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN 1000 radio, hosted by Bruce Levine and Fred Hubner wrapped up with a Q&A session with Theo Epstein. Bruce Levine asked Theo up front if he wanted to talk about playing electric guitar or baseball, ...and baseball it was. A summary was posted in the CCO but as it turns out I had a recording of the program and was able to get together several complete quotes from Theo on multiple topics, including:

• Dale Sveum's camp, the bunting contest and the 9am meeting  with a daily player "roast." (I doubt the roast would have gone over well in the Milton Bradley era)

• Lineup construction (after Hubner wanted Theo's opinion of Soriano leading off):

"Lineups are overblown to begin with. As long as you adhere to some basic lineup construction principles, it's really hard to screw up a lineup and also hard to get too great of an advantage out of it."

• On acquiring starting pitching depth:

"Frankly, going forward looking at the next several years, we don't have a lot of starting pitching coming up in the upper levels of the farm system and we didn't have a lot of starting pitching under control on the big league team."

• Samardjiza's opportunity to start:

"A quality starter is more valuable even than a quality closer, which is significantly more valuable than a setup guy or a middle man"

• Talent acquisition and the new scouting and player development manuals

• Matt Garza and any contract negotiations

• Hitting, Ted Williams and the number one foundational principle of hitting

• Theo's best organizational surprise upon coming to the Cubs, the Dominican Academy

the full quotes, after the jump...

Feeding the (Blue) Monster, Part One

This was my original thinking, the only reason I'd read any book about the Red Sox would be to gain insight into Theo Epstein's approach to roster construction and player acquisition. Still, I'm a sucker for a good baseball story and I have to admit that learning about the Cubs sister AL team that suffered from the 'Curse of the Bambino' had it's appeal, if for no other reason than  this old Billy Goat's misery loves company.

Seth Mnookin's 2006 book, 'Feeding the Monster' is an in-depth look at the Red Sox, focusing on team management and the eventual 2002 ownership change as the reason their drought ended. The Red Sox truly overcame urban legends created by the Boston press with their constant harping on eight decades of Epic failures and generations of fan misery.

Something I understand (except for the "overcame" part).

Now with the Theo "Compensation-gate" mostly completed, this book is filled with insights into the personalities behind what should have been a simple and quick front office only transaction (with no compensation as you will soon read). Why it became a bollixed, vitriol filled, press inflated, word-slinging mess that only Boston is known for makes more sense to me after this read.

There is a lot of story to set up before Theo Epstein jumps in, so prepare for the first part of the world's longest book summary.  Most of Theo's story will be in part deux.  Part one, after the jump...

Our Long National Nightmare is Almost Over

I try not to use that headline too often, but it seems fitting here. The verdict has been reached and the Boston Red Sox will get RHP Chris Carpenter from the Cubs. Cue the feigned outrage!!!!

The 26-year old righty can hit 100 mph and occassionally the broad side of a barn; 6.4 BB/9 in 45.1 IP in AAA. The overall minor league numbers are 1.384 WHIP, 4.2 BB/9, 7.6 K/9 , 3.62 ERA and a history of arm problems. He's probably a good bet to have a few good major league seasons, but I doubt the Cubs have lost a key cog in the machine they're attempting to build. Carpenter will go off the Cubs 40-man leaving room for the Cubs to add LHP Gerardo Concepcion.

The Dominos Start to Fall

Late Friday night, Bud Selig apparently had enough of the Cubs and Red Sox distracting from what now appears to be a real good World Series and the two teams sent out press releases saying Theo to the Cubs is official. The issue of compensation still needs to be resolved, with ta

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  • BILLY BUCKS: As things stand right now, Dylan Cease will be in the Eugene starting rotation when the NWL season begins play in June, and if he peforms well there he could perhaps move up to South Bend toward the end of the minor league season or for the MWL playoffs (if South Bend qualifies). 

  • i'm more "wtf?" about him hitting 2nd than playing LF...especially since zobrist exists.

  • Soler's primary position is suppose to be in left for this season so technically he is not out of position. Although I agree, it does seem weird given their histories.

  • Thanks Phil.

    Any idea of where/when Cease will head for the season?

  • Over/under on HBP tonight?

  • Yes, I know KB played LF and Szczur played RF last night, but there's a legit case that RF is the easier draw at PNC.

  • Seems an odd lineup -- Soler in LF and Bryant in RF? Two guys out of position? I guess Fed has to catch tonight so All Star Gramps can catch Lester tomorrow. Or maybe Joe just wants somebody else to catch a no-hitter. Would love to see KB get the power turned on. C'mon Jorge -- channel your playoff self!

  • All it took was Schwarber, Heyward, and Szczur getting hurt for him to get to play again. Let's go ahead and call this little stretch your last real chance to prove you belong on this team, Jorge.

  • soler hitting 2nd...didn't expect that one.

  • tonight: Fowler, Soler, Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrisjt, Baez, Russell, Federowicz, Arrieta

  • roster shuffle official per Sun Times, Gordon Wittenmeyer on twitter...Szczur to DL with minor hamstring strain, Chris Villanueva to 60 day DL, Ryan Kalish to 40 man roster and gets the call-up.

  • There's an interview with Heyward up on ESPN where he says the wrist thing has been lingering and he just brought it up with the team as it didn't go away. So that could very well explain why he hasn't had the same hard contact recently.

  • Ryan Kalish writeup (by Peter Gammons last November):

    ~snip~

  • Villanueva goes to the 60 day DL.

  • Peter Gammons just tweeted that teammates are tweeting Kalish is getting recalled. Not sure which ones and what they'll do with the 40 man but there we go.

  • Jesee Rogers just said he thought Ryan Kalish would be the call up.