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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  • FYI: Here's a good link explaining the differences in pitching WAR between Fangraphs and Basebell Reference.

    http://www.crawfishboxes.com/2012/8/28/3273844/which-war-works-best-pitc...

    Rob G. 25 min 47 sec ago view
  • ERA is just FIP with defense and luck. That being said if Hendricks gets his ERA under 2.00, he may have a legit shot.

    That all being said I was looking at Fangraphs WAR and I should have been looking at Basebell Reference WAR because more voters use that. My bad and happy to admit my mistake unlike some people around here that shall not be named (just kidding CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH!)

    Rob G. 28 min 59 sec ago view
  • Yes. That is something up with which we will not put.

    fullykräusened 1 hour 39 min ago view
  • Right, then. Moving forward lets focus on simple declarative sentences, subject-verb agreement, and watch out for punctuation. Avoid prepositions at the end of sentences.

    Jackstraw 2 hours 15 min ago view
  • I love sabremetrics and think FIP and WAR can definitely predict future success. For the Cy though which is an award for current success I do think ERA and WHIP have a place. Also while Hendricks doesn't have the strikeouts he does have the highest soft hit contact and second lowest hard hit contact which does a lot to take fielding skill out of it.

    To me if the ERA is close FIP and WAR should be used but right now its not. That said I agree with you Hendricks won't get it.

    johann 2 hours 27 min ago view
  • Can't get soft just because we have a big lead!

    billybucks 3 hours 31 min ago view
  • kershaw will be lucky to put in 160+ip. even though it projects to be an awesome 160+ip it's going to be extremely difficult for him to do much with that. he's still got minor league rehab game(s) to go through and he's only stretched out to 2ip with his last simulated rehab...it may take another couple weeks before he returns.

    the numbers are awesome, but he's lost the equivalent of a good chunk of a top-tier pen arm's season in innings of work compared to the rest of the lot.

    crunch 3 hours 42 min ago view
  • Kershaw, Fernandez and Syndergaard are your current leaders and all will be pitching meaningful games down the stretch that could make or break them. Hendricks will not be and his saber-numbers aren't anywhere close to those 3 and he'd split votes with Arrieta and Lester whom all are basically neck-and-neck for  WAR and FIP. If Kershaw pitches like just okay Kershaw in September he deserves to win in a landslide. Voters are pretty much saber-inclined now so it would take a crazy shutout streak or something for Hendricks to jump in the picture.

    Rob G. 12 hours 11 min ago view
  • AZ PHIL: With starters the likes of Edwin Jackson, even Chris Rusin or Michael Bowden could look good on their staff. At best, he is a #5-6. But as always, LH are at a premium.

    The E-Man 13 hours 41 min ago view
  • Sure we would all want consistency. He is not even 24, has played 5 (!) positions this year. Can you imagine what is in his head? He was only a part-time player at 2 spots last year. And THEN think about hitting?? Cut him some slack...You sure are picky lately. First wishing #6 NL RBI guy Russell have a better average, and now an "unncessarily fancy pick". Geez tough crowd!

    The E-Man 13 hours 45 min ago view
  • it's going to be hard to take down scherzer.

    kershaw is supposedly coming back soon, though he'll probably need a good amount of deep innings to match up with scherzer...probably too late at this point. tanner roark, bumgarner, and hendricks are probably going to steal some votes along with kershaw.

    crunch 14 hours 14 min ago view
  • I absolutely love Javy's game, and I love the way Maddon changed the perception of him as a ballplayer, but I really wish he would just make the routine plays routinely. On the ground ball in the 9th, he made an unnecessarily fancy pick. He made the play, but tried the same thing last night and made an error.

    billybucks 14 hours 35 min ago view
  • How many wins does Kyle need for serious Cy Young consideration? Would 17 be enough if he leads the league in ERA? My goodness, what a season -- makes a Dartmouth alum proud.

    billybucks 14 hours 37 min ago view
  • jacos 14 hours 41 min ago view
  • hendricks WHIP drops to 0.98 over 159 innings after throwing 7ip 3h 1bb 4k, 0r/er

    ERA down to 2.09 on the season.

    crazy good.

    crunch 15 hours 3 min ago view
  • I am pretty well fed up with the majority of home plate umps. Just terrible inconsistencies.

    The E-Man 15 hours 6 min ago view