Tag:Theo Epstein
Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:21 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 5:23 pm
 

Report: Cubs, Red Sox ask Selig for help

Theo EpsteinBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Both the Cubs and Red Sox have asked Bud Selig to decide what the compensation for Theo Epstein's move to Chicago will be, the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer reports.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino initiated the move, according to the report. It's still unclear how long the ruling will take from Selig or what it will be, as there is apparently no precedent for it.

Selig had set a Nov. 1 deadline for the compensation, but that was later extended indefinitely.

Lucchino has apparently asked for the likes of Matt Garza or Cubs top prospect Brett Jackson, which the Cubs have determined to be too costly.

In 1994, the Cubs sent a Class A pitcher (Hector Trinidad) to the Twins in return for the poaching of GM Andy MacPhail. Trinidad never reached the majors.

The Red Sox -- pointing toward Epstein's five-year, $18.5 million contract -- are claiming Epstein is more valuable than a low-level prospect, while Epstein has been left to downplay his own value.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 7:26 pm
 

Epstein talks Zambrano, salaries, Wood, more

By Matt Snyder

New Cubs president Theo Epstein hit the radio waves in Chicago Wednesday afternoon to discuss several different topics. Let's check out the main points, thanks to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.

• It's pretty easy to understand why many Cubs fans never want to see Carlos Zambrano again (and I'm on their side, by the way), but Epstein hasn't ruled out a Zambrano return. He explained why:

“The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here,” Epstein said (MLB.com). “Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture — and I understand there are a lot of skeptics around about that. I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well. He needs to prove to us that he can change and be part of this culture or we’ll change the personnel and move forward with people who are proud to be Cubs and treat their teammates with respect, treat the fans with respect and can be part of a winning culture in the Cubs’ clubhouse.”

That's very reasonable. All the Zambrano issues came under Jim Hendry's watch, so Epstein has the right to give him one chance. Without having had any personal interaction with Zambrano before taking the job, Epstein may not feel comfortable just going on what he's read and seen on TV -- especially since it's not easy to unload a $19 million contract. And him making sure to point out that he's skeptical seems like a stern warning to Big Z. (UPDATE: The Cubs have a preliminary agreement in place to trade Zambrano to the Marlins)

• Speaking of albatross contracts, left fielder Alfonso Soriano is still owed $54 million over the next three seasons. Epstein didn't specifically name Soriano, but when asked about highly overpriced players, he said the club has three options:

1. Trade the player and eat a decent portion of the salary.
2. Cut the player.
3. Provide "an infrastructure in which he can improve," per MLB.com.

Cubs offseason
On Soriano, I'm not sure what the Cubs could do without having to eat a ton of money. You play him at first base to eliminate the defensive liability he poses in the outfield, and he's still a first baseman with a .289 on-base percentage who hits around 25 homers. Is that even close to being worth $18 million a year? No. I'd guess the best option is No. 1 and then No. 2 is soon to follow. Either way, that's a load of wasted money.

• As for the recent trade of fan favorite Sean Marshall?

“With what we’re trying to accomplish, which is not just win the World Series in 2012 but build something bigger and more sustainable for the long-term, what’s more valuable to us?” Epstein said (MLB.com). “One season worth of Sean Marshall or five seasons worth of a 25-year-old left-handed starting pitcher [Travis Wood] who can go into our starting rotation … and two prospects we like a lot.”

Well, first of all, he has to say that they are trying to win the 2012 World Series, but they really aren't. Just as I wrote last week, the Cubs aren't going to throw all their chips to the center of the table and try to win immediately just to end some fake curse. They are building a foundation for the future, one that Epstein and company are hoping will provide multiple opportunities for a championship down the road, not just one quick burst.

• He hit on one Wood, so what about the other: Kerry Wood?

“You have a team that really respects a player, wants him back desperately, and you have a player who loves the city, is a huge part of the community here with his family and his foundation and wants to be back,” Epstein said (MLB.com). “If we can’t work this out, we’re doing something wrong.”

• Also, not that it's shocking, but Epstein definitively stated that Bryan LaHair is going to be the Cubs' first baseman in 2012. Now, if he was planning on signing Prince Fielder, Epstein obviously wouldn't say so -- so it's possible the Cubs are still in the bidding. I'm inclined to believe him, though, because of the project nature of this rebuild. And LaHair could possibly be a late bloomer like a Jayson Werth (erase 2011 from your memory, haters, and look at 2008-10) or Ryan Ludwick. LaHair, 29, hit .331/.405/.664 with 38 homers and 38 doubles in 129 Triple-A games last season.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:27 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Under new Cubs regime, patience is the word



By Matt Snyder


Back when the Cubs first hired Theo Epstein to be the club president, I wrote that we shouldn't expect to see a short-term fix to a currently badly flawed team and organization. "The band-aid-on-a-broken-leg approach got Jim Hendry fired, so there's no way [Cubs chairman] Tom Ricketts would hire Epstein to do the same thing," I wrote.

It's now a few months later and we've seen a bevy of moves by Epstein, but none of them are big names. David DeJesus, Ian Stewart, Travis Wood, Andy Sonnanstine and Manny Corpas will hardly be mistaken for Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Jonathan Papelbon and C.J. Wilson anytime soon.

In that same article I referenced above, I wrote that Epstein had three possible routes to take in building the Cubs. I incorrectly guessed he'd try to win now while also building the foundation. Instead, Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have elected to take the long, slow rebuild route. It would appear any veteran with trade value is going to be dealt (Matt Garza and Marlon Byrd likely the next two, while one would expect the likes of Carlos Marmol, Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster to be available by the trade deadline in July) as Sean Marshall already has been.

Now, it's awfully tough to tell a fanbase that has never seen a World Series championship (I mean, there can't possibly be a 110-year-old Cubs fan that remembers when he was seven, right?) to be patient, but that's how it has to be. The franchise needed a complete overhaul, and the process has begun. Give Ricketts credit for hiring a guy and giving him enough leeway to take as long as he needs to rebuild the organization. In return, the fans need to be patient and keep their eyes on the prize. Ricketts, Epstein and Hoyer are trying to slowly build one of the best farm systems in the majors while also being able to put together a massive payroll that dwarfs those of the competitors in the NL Central.

Cubs offseason
One would expect most fans to be open-minded about the situation. Thankfully, I couldn't find any "fire Theo Epstein" boards on the Internet (at least not from his Cubs perch) just yet. Our @EyeOnBaseball Twitter account did receive a deluge of messages from a disgruntled fan last week, though. The fan wanted Epstein fired immediately because he didn't sign Pujols and Mark Buehrle while also keeping Aramis Ramirez. I'm betting this kind of short-sighted sentiment is in the minority, but let's be realistic here. The Cubs were 71-91 last season. They have a mediocre farm system. Any attempt to make a quick fix would handcuff the franchise.

Let's keep all of this in mind when the 2012 Cubs suck. Any they will. They are going to be really bad. Any veteran performing well will probably be flipped to a contender in July (picture the Astros last season trading Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn while also shopping Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers). The fans who abandon the Cubs after a bad 2012 season aren't the real ones. The fans calling for the heads of Ricketts, Epstein and Hoyer aren't the ones with foresight. No, the real fans are the ones who will realize it's a rebuilding process and that the new braintrust is building the foundation through all these trades and can expect a top five overall draft pick in 2013. Also realize the Cubs, who can likely afford a player payroll of $150 million, only have $33.05 million committed in salaries in 2013 (Cot's Contracts).

Remember, this is a process. It's one that will likely transform the Cubs into a major player in the National League landscape -- possibly by as early as 2013. You don't change a century-plus loser into a winner by spending money like Montgomery Brewster (who, funnily enough, wore a Cubs jersey) just to fill two or three of dozens of holes. For now, the Cubs are a sleeping giant. In a few years, they might just be the Evil Empire of the NL Central.

As for the fans, listen to Axl Rose: "All (you) need, is just a little patience."

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Posted on: December 27, 2011 10:28 am
 

Cubs add Manny Corpas to bullpen

Manny CorpasBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Manny Corpas, who missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, could earn as much as $2 million with the Cubs in 2012 after signing a one-year deal with the Chicago on Monday, signed a one-year, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned. In addition to a $1 million base, the big-league deal has appearance bonuses and a bonus for games finished.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

The right-handed Corpas, 29, has 34 saves in his five seasons with the Rockies, including 10 in 2010, when he appeared in 56 games for the Rockies. He had 19 saves in 2007, his second year in the big leagues as the Rockies advanced to the World Series. Overall, he's 12-16 with a 3.93 ERA and 34 saves.

While Corpas' contract does have a clause for more money based on games finished, the team has Carlos Marmol, also 29, under contract for the next two seasons. Marmol blew 10 of his 44 save chances in 2011 and is due a nearly $4 million raise to $7 million in 2012 and then is scheduled to make $9.8 million in 2013 before becoming a free agent.

The Cubs traded its top set-up man, lefty Sean Marshall, to the Reds last week for left-handed starter Travis Wood and two prospects. The team also added to its bullpen depth signing right-hander Andy Sonnanstine on Monday.

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Posted on: December 23, 2011 4:02 pm
 

As Cubs look to deal, is Matt Garza next?

Matt Garza

By C. Trent Rosecrans

If I'm Matt Garza, I'm not getting too comfortable in Chicago.

During Friday's conference call to announce the trade of Sean Marshall to Cincinnati, Cubs president Theo Epstein said, "I don't think we're done" and "generally we're int he business of taking short-term assets and turning into long-term assets."

Reading between the lines it means Epstein knows the Cubs are going to stink in 2012 and hope to have a team that doesn't stink in the future.

Epstein said the team was looking at building depth in the rotation at both the minor-league and major-league levels, noting they would have "to make sacrifices."

Epstein was asked about Garza, who has been rumored to be on the trade block.

"Matt Garza is the type of pitcher you want to build around," Esptein said (via ESPNChicago.com). "He's a proven top-of-the-rotation guy, a proven performer in the playoffs. I think last year he had his best season, all things being equal.

"It's hard to find top-of-the-rotation guys, so if you have them, and if there's a way to keep them around, that's always compelling for the club. With that said, we've been honest. We are in a mode where we have to listen on everybody. And if there's a way to improve the long-term outlook for this club in a significant manner, we can't look past opportunities."

Epstein added the team isn't in the place where the team has to deal Garza, but as the market has shown recently with the Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez trades, starting pitching is the most valuable commodity on the market right now and can bring back several pieces in return.

Garza made $5.9 million last season and is due a raise through arbitration for next season and is also arbitration-eligible for the 2013 season before becoming a free agent.

"We'll listen," Epstein said. "Because there's always an active trade market for top-of-the-rotation guys with multiple years of control."

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Zambrano climbing mountains, running on beaches



By Matt Snyder


Carlos Zambrano has long been one of the most mercurial players in the bigs. We've all seen his meltdowns and heard his excuses afterward. This past summer, when he skipped out on his teammates and uttered some words about retirement, he was placed on the restricted list by the Cubs. The thought was that he'd never play for the Cubs again, but that's now looking like a possibility.

Zambrano recently told reporters he is -- for what, the seventh time? -- a new man. From MLBTradeRumors.com:
"I'm preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape," he said, as relayed by Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes. "I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I'm not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors."
Climbing mountains and running on the beach ... uh, has he been watching the Rocky movies as inspiration? I wonder what name he yells when he gets to the top of the mountain? Maybe Michael Barrett's.

And I'm not quite sure "coward" is the right choice of words there. Only a complete and utter fool would leave the $19 million on the table Zambrano is owed in 2012. The cowardly act would have been to storm out of the locker room and leave his teammates hanging. Oh, wait ...

Zambrano Saga
For stretches, when Zambrano could remain healthy and sane, he produced as a frontline starting pitcher. He's a three-time All-Star who finished exactly fifth three times in NL Cy Young voting. After anger management sessions midseason in 2010, he closed the season in lights-out fashion, going 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA. But then Bad Z showed his face again in 2011 and it looked like the Cubs had seen enough. Then-general manager Jim Hendry basically kicked Zambrano off the team.

The problem, of course, is that Hendry also inked Zambrano to a huge contract -- five years, $91.5 million -- that began before the 2008 season. The second season Zambrano mentioned in the above quote, where he said he wants to stay in Chicago for two seasons? Good luck with that. There's a vesting option for 2013 that is guaranteed if Zambrano finishes in the top four of Cy Young voting this coming season.

It does seem that he'll at least get his chance, though. New Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are giving every indication Zambrano is allowed back as long as he's on his best behavior. History indicates that won't last very long, but there's no reason to not give him a fresh start for a fresh administration, considering that untradeable contract.

One thing is for sure, the conclusion of Zambrano's time in Chicago is not going to be boring.

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Posted on: December 10, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Harrison Ford to play Branch Rickey in movie

Harrison FordBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Is general manager the new glamor profession for the movies?

First Brad Pitt and now Harrison Ford are playing baseball GMs in movies. Pitt, of course, in Moneyball, and now Han Solo himself as Branch Rickey in an upcoming movie about Jackie Robinson by Legendary Entertainment.

Chadwick Boseman, who played Floyd Little in 2008's The Express, will play Robinson.

The movie, tentatively titled 42, will be written and directed by Brian Helgeland, who wrote the screenplay for Mystic River and L.A. Confidential and also wrote and directed A Knight's Tale. Helgeland's father is a Brooklyn native.

There's no release date yet, but it's doubtful it'd be ready before opening day 2013.

It seems like the next logical move is Ben Affleck playing Theo Epstein in a movie, although the tone may change after Epstein ditched Affleck's beloved Red Sox for the Cubs.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:06 am
 

Trade rumor du jour: Matt Garza available



By Matt Snyder


Earlier Monday, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that the Cubs were willing to trade starting pitcher Matt Garza and there's been much discussion all day about where he might be headed, if he's traded. This isn't really news, though, because it's widely known the Cubs will listen to trade offers on just about everyone (21-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro probably isn't headed anywhere, but everyone else could surely be had at a reasonable price).

Still, we might as well just take the opportunity to talk about where Garza would fit. It's that time of the year, after all, with the Winter Meetings starting in just one week.

Rumor Mill
We know the Yankees and Red Sox want starting pitching. They always do. The Blue Jays, Rockies and Reds are also looking and a trade would fit better than spending big on a free agent. The Marlins and Nationals have been heavily involved in courting free agent starting pitchers, and in doing so they wouldn't have to cough up a good package of prospects, but don't count them out, either. And the list could be even bigger, this was just picking out a few obvious teams.

Expect the new Cubs administration -- led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer -- to actively seek out ways to restock the farm system as they look to build a strong foundation. That means if you see a name in trade rumors, it's probably true the Cubs are listening to offers. To reiterate, they're listening on virtually everyone. They're looking for any opportunity to start planning for the future, even if it's at the expense of the present.

Garza, 28, was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings last season, his first in Chicago. Sabermetric stats such as FIP, xFIP and WAR loved Garza last season, too, so front offices with analytical leanings will certainly be contacting Epstein, Hoyer and company.

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