With 17 months and 1 season in the books for Theo Epstein at the helm of the Chicago Cubs’ baseball operations, he caught up with David Kaplan of CSN Chicago for an interview that revealed a lot of insight about the team’s functionality.
April 5, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein talks to the media before the game against the Washington Nationals on opening day at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
It’s quite a long piece, and I know all you folks are busy so here’s the jist:
On the Cubs’ overall progress:
"I am pleased with the progress that we’ve made, but you always want to do more. Obviously, it was a really difficult first year at the major league level, but there is a ton of momentum in this organization. A year ago, I felt like even internally we were trying to explain ourselves and lay out the program that we thought was best for the organization and see who was on board and who wasn’t. Now that’s all in the past and everyone who is here is on board."
Arguably, Epstein said that the Cubs are only 30% complete their rebuild. It seems about right.
On a potential 100 loss season in 2013:
"I’d be disappointed if that happened. I think the key is what kind of start we get off to. If you look up in July and we’re in it, we’re gonna go for it. We talked about it before – every chance to make the playoffs is sacred. And if we look up in July and take a cold assessment of our club and we’re not in it, then we have to address our future. And then it could get ugly for the last couple months the way it did last year. A lot depends on that fork in the road, so nothing would surprise me either way."
On the Cubs’ farm system:
"We feel great about where we are going. It was a huge year for the farm system and everything that happened behind the scenes. We don’t want to keep talking about it. We can’t wait for the season to start so we can go out and do it so our prospects can continue to develop. I think we are going to surprise some people at the major-league level with the quality and depth of our pitching staff. Each year the organization is getting healthier and healthier and that’s what we want."
Epstein continues about the value of having Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Javier Baez in the system, but claims that calling the Cubs’ system the 5th best in baseball is a little aggressive. He see’s them in the top third overall.
On the upcoming draft:
"It’d be nice if there was an obvious, can’t-miss college arm who could impact our big-league team in the next couple of years, but if you try to force it, that’s how you end up regretting your pick for years to come. History does show that there is a better probability for impact up high in the draft with position players, but if the right arm is there, we’ll take him. You cannot dictate the draft. You have to go through the process and see what’s there. At the end of the draft, we will have attacked pitching with volume and you can get pitching all over the draft. If you want elite position players, you have to be willing to pop that guy up top."
There were a few more quotes that are of interest, but then again, everything Epstein says is of interest to a true Cubs fan.
Sounds like it’s all systems go to me.