Epstein Up To His Old Tricks In Chicago


Theo Epstein may be the craftiest son of a bitch in baseball.

Oct 25, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs new president of baseball operations Theo Epstein speaks during a press conference at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Giglio-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not even joking. I’m just happy he’s working for the team we all love.

While it’s obvious the Cubs are a year in to a 3-4 year rebuild plan, I’m always astounded at the moves that Theo Epstein makes. By no means am I an expert when it comes to inking contracts or scouting players – hell the only reason I was ever hired for this gig was because I know how to formulate a sentence and have an unhealthy obsession with teams of men dressed in goofy outfits whacking a ball with a stick.

But in all honesty, it seems that whenever the Cubs make a move, there’s always a bunch of head nodding and agreement from my end as well as from my other baseball loving peers.

There’s a clear methodical process to every move. For example:

  • Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Kyuji Fujikawa and Nate Schierholtz all have performance incentives in their contracts. Don’t get me wrong, but I love a buy low/high upside player who has cash rewards staring them in the face. Who wouldn’t be motivated by a little extra dough especially while on a short term deal?
  • In order to keep costs low, Epstein has played the international market. Guys like Jorge Soler, Juan Paniagua and Fujikawa were all had for relatively less than their potential market value. All of these players could be in impact roles in the very near future.
  • The Cubs aren’t blowing all their cash on free agents hoping for a cure. Sure the Cubs need pitching, but you don’t see them in the mix for Zack Greinke as he’s simply not alligned with the overall goals of this club yet. The Cubs are waiting for the core of their youthful players to have risen through the ranks and can make starts at the major league level. This means waiting for guys Javier Baez, Junior Lake, Dave Sappelt, Trey McNutt and Matt Szczur among others to fully develop in to proper starters, then using their cash to buy free agents which can then plug and weaknesses the Cubs may have while making a world series run.

Starting to pick up the theme? It’s all about value with this team.

All four off season signings the Cubs have made have all be recognized as “cheap, effective moves” which allow the Cubs to develop their core players while not breaking the bank.

I know it’s all simple stuff, but I really find it comforting when I see moves like this. The minor leagues are being addressed and bulked up, the team is modernizing their style of baseball and not a single signing has yet been called flippant or irresponsible.

We’re in good hands with this front office. They’re truly committed to building a contending team not only in the next couple of years, but for many years to come.