Epstein takes challenge of turning Cubs around
Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 7:01 pm
By RICK GANO
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Theo Epstein knew it was time to move on, even though it meant leaving the team he loved. After nearly a decade as general manager in Boston where he won two World Series titles, Epstein decided change would be a good thing.
“After 10 years, no matter how passionate you are, you see the same issues, day after day and you are around the same people day after day,” Epstein said. “You are around the same landscape day after day for 10 years and eventually you will benefit from a new landscape and fresh problems.”
Fresh problems? There are plenty of those in Chicago.
Epstein was introduced as the new president of baseball operations for the Cubs on Tuesday, going from one team that ended its long championship drought while he was at the helm to one desperately searching for a title after more than a century of futility and frustration.
“I think it’s equally as big a challenge,” Epstein said Tuesday.
There is so much work to do, from building a strong minor league system and sharp scouting to putting together an evaluation system that is on the cutting edge. All while trying to win with moves that make sense.
“I didn’t use the world rebuilding and I wouldn’t. I think that is just a buzzword in baseball that leads people down the wrong path,” Epstein said.
“The best way I can describe it is there are parallel fronts — the job of building the scouting and player development foundation that is going to serve well for the long haul and treating every opportunity to win as sacred.”
The 37-year-old Epstein left the Red Sox with a year left on his contract as general manager. The teams made the announcement Friday night, but held off on the news conference until Tuesday, a travel day for the World Series.
Epstein got a five-year deal worth a reported $18.5 million. The Cubs and Red Sox still have to hash out compensation for Epstein and a Major League Baseball spokesman confirmed that Commissioner Bud Selig has set a Nov. 1 deadline or else he will mediate the issue.
With that pending, the focus was squarely on Epstein, with nearly 100 media members attending his inaugural news conference and “Cubs Welcome Theo Epstein” splashed across the famous Wrigley Field marquee at the corner of Clark and Addison on Tuesday morning.
The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and one of Epstein’s first decisions will be deciding the future of manager Mike Quade, who has a year left on his two-year deal. Chicago was 71-91 last season and the team Epstein inherits will not be nearly as talented as the one he took over with the Red Sox in 2002.
“I need to get to know Mike Quade better. I had a great conversation with him on the phone. We’re going to get together over the next week,” Epstein said.
Published in The Messenger 10.26.11