The additions of Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations, Jed Hoyer as General Manager, and Jason McLeod as Vice President of Scouting and Player Development have already been as success in the eyes of many Cubs’ fans. In the midst of their managerial search, Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod took some time out to have a conference call with the Cubs’ season ticket holders. In the past, this is usually where the leading members of the Cubs’ front office try to comfort the fans and tell them that the team will compete in the following season. But that sentiment is what left the Cubs’ organization as soon as Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod took their new positions in the Cubs’ front office.
While the newly constructed Cubs’ front office is determined to make the team competitive heading into the 2012 season, the trio is not going to sugar-coat anything. The Cubs’ brain-trust knows that this a process and the moves they make have to have a greater impact for the long-term in addition to the short-term. Thursday’s conversation with the season ticket holders, was the the first time that some fans had the chance to hear directly from Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod on how they plan to turn-around the Cubs’ organization.
Among the topics that were discussed during Thursday’s conference call was the status of the Cubs’ managerial search, the outlook of the Cubs’ minor league system, willingness to eat contracts, as well as other miscellaneous notes.
The question on everyone’s mind right now is “who is going to be the next manager of the Cubs?” The Cubs have already interviewed Philadelphia Phillies’ bench coach Pete Mackanin, Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum, Texas Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux, and Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr is going through the interview process with the team today. Up to this point the front-runners for the position are believed to be Sveum and Maddux, and the current scenario being laid out is one that has Sveum winding up as the Red Sox manager, and Maddux being named the Cubs’ manager.
Epstein told fans that the team “is probably in the sixth inning of the process”, mentioning that the Cubs may interview one or two more candidates before entering “the decision-making stage.” Note that his conference was before the Cubs interviewed Alomar, so there is likely one candidate that has not been made public. Chances are that candidate could be the Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who Epstein has a great amount of respect for. There also is Terry Francona, who Epstein admitted doesn’t need an interview. Francona has been linked to the St. Louis Cardinals position, but the a report out of the Chicago Tribune today suggests that Francona “deep down” wants to be the Cubs’ manager.
The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that Epstein and company may be interviewing other candidates to do their due diligence, and then eventually hire Francona as their manager. Both Epstein and Francona share a mutual respect and admiration for one another, and the two have a very strong business relationship. In any event, the Cubs would likely want to have their next manager in place before the Thanksgiving holiday.
In speaking about the degree of talent in the Cubs’ minor league system, Epstein reiterated that he thinks “there is a significant gap between where we are right now between the impact and depth and where we want to be.” Though, Epstein did admit that there are “interesting players” within the team’s farm system. The the Cubs’ farm system is likely to be the greatest beneficiary from Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod joining the Cubs’ front office. All three are among the the top talent evaluators in the game, and that will go a long way in improving the amount of talent that is produced from the Cubs’ minor league system. From there, that will translate in success at the major league level.
- Hoyer told reporters that the Ricketts family is focused on turning the Cubs’ organization into of the best in baseball, and one of the ways you acheive that goal is by eating the contracts of existing veterans and “playing younger players to get experience.” Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod have proved that a team wins through their farm system, and “in order to win, you win through your younger players.”
- Epstein also mentioned that the team will look internally, as well as at trades or free agent signings to fill the voids left by the departing Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena. Epstein anticipates the team to be active in the free agent process. It would seem that Bryan LaHair is on the inside track to becoming the Cubs’ starting first baseman for the 2012 season. The Cubs’ starting third baseman may not be on the team right now, though, D.J. LeMahieu is expected to get an extended look at the position during Spring Training. There’s a though as we prepare for the winter, Spring Training!