With Theo Epstein In Charge, Cubs Are Headed In Right Direction


Cubs fans, today could very well be the day that goes down as the greatest day in Cubs’ history. While there has been no official announcement, Theo Epstein has indeed agreed to a 5 year deal to join the Chicago Cubs organization. It is believed that Epstein’s deal is worth more than $15 million, one report had the number as high as $20 million. Epstein’s official title is not known, though, multiple reports have confirmed that Epstein will have free reign over the baseball operations of the Cubs. In addition to being named general manager, I would also expect president of baseball operations to be added to Epstein’s title. The introductory press conference for Epstein will likely come before the business week closes.

The addition of Epstein means so many things, but lets first give credit to Tom Ricketts and his family. Ever since the Ricketts family took control of the Organization prior to the 2010 season, it has been their goal to emulate that Red Sox blueprint of success. The Red Sox have turned Fenway Park into one of the organization’s greatest sources of revenue, and under the leadership of Epstein, the Red Sox have been perennial World Series contenders. Given his admiration for the Red Sox way of life, it is likely that team chairman Tom Ricketts has had his sight on Epstein even before he fired former general manager Jim Hendry.

Ricketts could not have handled the general manager search any better than he did. After announcing the firing of Hendry, Ricketts told reporters that it was his intention to keep the Cubs general manager search to himself. And, that is what he did. Prior to the news breaking this morning of Epstein signing a deal with the Cubs, all of the reports covering the Epstein rumors were generated by the Boston media using Boston sources. Throughout the entire search, most of the local reporters were zeroing in on Chicago White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn being the favorite to become the next general manager of the Cubs. How serious of candidate Hahn was for the Cubs’ position likely will never be known, but it is possible Ricketts may have used Hahn in order to divert the media’s attention while he was reeling in Epstein. Either way, Ricketts achieved his goal. The Cubs owner wanted a “big name” to fill the general manager vacancy, and he landed one of–if not–the best general manager in all of baseball.

Now, the fun begins. Cubs fans be prepared to watch at genius at work. One of the first duties for Epstein will be to decide on a manager. While Epstein’s long-time managerial partner in Boston–Terry Francona–has not been ruled out, the consensus is that Francona is not at the top of Epstein’s short list of managerial candidates. Mike Quade, however, is on that list though the odds are still against Quade returning next season as the Cubs’ manager. The favorite to be the Cubs’ manager next season and for the foreseeable future is Ryne Sanberg. Epstein pursued Sandberg last winter to be the manager of the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate. So it is likely that Epstein will reach out to Sandberg within the coming weeks.

As for turning the Cubs’ roster into one that is a perennial contender, that process will likely take at least two years. Though, it is not out of the question to think that the Cubs could contend in their division next season. The Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals will struggle to separate themselves from the rest of the division especially if both teams lose their prolific run producers in Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols. Speaking of Fielder and Pujols, the Epstein hire has increased speculation among national reporters that the Cubs will come away with one of the two premier first basemen once free agency begins. However, one of the biggest reasons why Epstein decided to leave Boston for Chicago was because of Ricketts’ plan to build the team through the farm system. In addition to the growth of the farm system, Ricketts assured Epstein that he would be allowed to pursue veteran stars that can have an instant impact. David Kaplan notes that an acquisition like Epstein made last winter with Adrian Gonzalez is one that Ricketts would approve of. That would seem to confirm the belief that the Cubs will be in the running for Fielder or Pujols.

It still should be noted that the deal is not 100% finalized, but an official announcement is likely coming in the next 24 to 48 hours. The Cubs and the Red sox are still talking about compensation and the latest rumor circulating twitter is that the Cubs will send pitcher Jay Jackson and some cash to Boston. Of course, Cubbies Crib will keep you updated once the deal becomes final.

There have been a lot of false “saviors” in the Cubs organization over the past decade, and it may be risky to use that term for Epstein; but ladies and gentlemen, the “savior” has arrived.