Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’

10/24 Extra bases

* Cubs prospect Christian Villanueva was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and one RBIs in Yaquis de Obregon’s 8-3 loss to Los Mochis in Mexican Winter League play on Wednesday. It was Villanueva’s second homer of the winter league season.

Second baseman Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-5 with a double and scored a run in Licey’s 7-4 win over Estrellas in Dominican Winter League play. Alcantara batted .271 this season for Double-A Tennessee.

* Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who has interviewed for the Cubs’ job, also is a candidate for the Nationals’ managerial vacancy, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

* According to a survey of 26 music insiders by Rolling Stone magazine, Wrigley Field ranked second among rock stadiums and arenas in the U.S. Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Police, Jimmy Buffett, Rascal Flatts and Kelly Clarkson have all performed at the ballpark. Madison Square Garden in New York ranked No. 1, and Fenway Park was No. 3. The list is part of a “Venues that Rock” series.

* Got a question about the Cubs? The Cubs mailbag is back. Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your full name and hometown. Don’t bother sending your resume if inquiring about the vacant manager’s job. I’ll leave that to Theo Epstein & Co.

– Carrie Muskat

10/14 Cubs meet with Renteria; Martinez next

On Monday, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in California to meet with Padres coach Rick Renteria about the managerial vacancy, and plan on talking to Rays bench coach Dave Martinez later this week. The Cubs brass has talked to Manny Acta and A.J. Hinch already. Renteria, 51, managed four seasons in the Padres Minor League system before joining the big league staff as a bench coach. He also managed Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He played parts of five seasons with the Pirates, Mariners and Marlins, and has managed in the Marlins and Padres organizations. Martinez, 49, was drafted by the Cubs in 1983, and made his big league debut in ’86. He played 16 seasons, including four with the Cubs (1986-88, 2000). He’s been part of Joe Maddon’s staff in Tampa since the 2008 season. The Cubs’ search began Sept. 30 when Dale Sveum was dismissed after two seasons as manager. Epstein has said he’d like to have the new manager in place by the GM meetings, which begin Nov. 11.

– Carrie Muskat

10/6 Extra bases

* Several members of the Cubs’ front office, including Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, will be in Arizona this week to watch some of the young prospects play in the Arizona Fall League and the instructional league games. The AFL begins Tuesday with the Mesa Solar Sox — or “Soler Sox,” as in Jorge Soler — traveling to Glendale to play the Desert Dogs. Cubs prospects playing for Mesa include Soler, Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Wes Darvill, Matt Loosen, Dallas Beeler, Lendy Castillo and Armando Rivera.

* Arodys Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves in July 2012 in the Paul Maholm trade, has been rehabbing in Mesa, and was scheduled to throw a live batting practice session on Tuesday, then pitch in instructional league games Oct. 15 and Oct. 18. The right-hander will likely see some action in Winter League play as well.

* Mike Olt, acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal this year, got some extra swings in at the Cubs complex this past week.

* There’s been a lot of progress made at the Cubs’ new Spring Training complex in west Mesa. It’s nice to see the stadium taking shape, palm trees planted and water in the little lake. The Cubs will leave their Fitch Park facility in November.

– Carrie Muskat

9/27 Sveum, staff to find out status on Monday

Dale Sveum will find out Monday whether or not he’ll be back at the helm for a third season. That’s when Theo Epstein will complete his evaluation of the manager and the coaching staff.

“It’s pretty standard at this time of year to take your time to look back at the season and make decisions on what can put the organization in the best position going forward,” Epstein said. “This is part of the process. At the same time, we owe it to everyone involved to get it done quickly and move forward. We’ll finish up the process on Monday.”

Epstein was in St. Louis to conduct end of the season meetings with most of the players along with general manager Jed Hoyer and Sveum.

Epstein first revealed the evaluation process regarding Sveum and his staff last week in Milwaukee. The lack of a definitive vote of confidence from Epstein prompted speculation regarding Sveum’s status.

“It is what it is,” Sveum said of the uncertainty. “It’s not like I have to deal with anything except the norm that comes along with this position and the situation the organization is in, the evaluation process of any team at the end of the year, especially a team that lost 90-plus games. It doesn’t affect me and doesn’t bother me like people might think it does. It’s just part of the process.”

The Cubs lost 101 games in Sveum’s first season in 2012, and will finish in last place in the National League Central this year.

“If you go into something not expecting this [evaluation] then it might be different,” Sveum said. “But when you go into any kind of job like this, you understand these things can happen at any given time. I’ve been around too long and have seen it on both ends. There’s nothing you can do but keep doing the same things you do. It’s not going to change you as a person or a baseball person.”

During the Milwaukee series, Sveum was caught on camera arguing with pitcher Edwin Jackson in the dugout, and the next day, Jeff Samardzija yelled at third base coach David Bell. Kevin Gregg also was upset at being told he would no longer close, but the problem was miscommunication.

“I look at those three little minor brushfires as things that naturally occur at the end of a difficult season and frankly, I think it’s been impressive that under Dale’s leadership we got through 11 months of the regular season without something like that happening,” Epstein said. “Those things are to be expected. If you don’t want those things to happen, then don’t trade 40 percent of your rotation every year. Those things are going to crop up.

“Frankly, the things behind the scenes are more important than some of the brushfires that sometimes become public,” Epstein said. “I don’t think those are a pattern at all.”

Epstein and Hoyer have said repeatedly they are not judging Sveum on the Cubs’ record.

– Carrie Muskat

9/21 Theo and Gregg

The Cubs announced Saturday that Theo Epstein accepted Kevin Gregg’s apology, and the right-hander will not be released. Epstein had considered such a move after Gregg criticized management following Friday’s game, which he gave up four runs in the ninth. Gregg was upset that he was no longer going to be the closer in the last week of games. Gregg later apologized Friday, and walked up to the press box to make sure the media knew.

– Carrie Muskat

9/20 Gregg and the Cubs

First it was Edwin Jackson vs. Dale Sveum, then Jeff Samardzija vs. David Bell. On Friday, it was Kevin Gregg against Theo Epstein. The Cubs have eight games remaining, and now they’re arguing over who is the closer.

The Braves beat the Cubs, 9-5, on Friday and moved closer to clinching the NL East. Gregg gave up four runs in the ninth and took the loss. After the game, the right-hander said he was upset at being told this week that he was no longer the closer.

“For an organization to just come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go in a different direction …’ You know, professional courtesy would’ve been nice,” Gregg said after the game in the clubhouse.

Sveum gave Gregg the news, but the pitcher said he felt the decision came from Epstein.

“[Friday's game] didn’t unfold like I wanted, but I probably tried a little too hard,” Gregg said. “What they told me over the last couple of days makes it difficult to play this game anyway … let alone knowing what they think. That shows they are not that interested in me coming back here. I will worry about next year next year. But it gives me a good indication of their thoughts going forward.”

Epstein was angry when he heard Gregg’s comments, and went up to the press box to meet with the media.

“Apparently, Kevin misunderstood Dale and thought he was having his job permanently taken away, despite getting the ball in the closer’s role the last couple of days,” Epstein said. “He apparently had some choice words. … Upon hearing that, I called him up to Dale’s office to tell him how disappointed I was with him, given the way we’ve treated him this year. You know, briging him back … and showing faith in him and the great job he has done for us this year. It took him a couple minutes to understand he misunderstood Dale and he apologized to me and to Dale. I told him I would sleep on it and decide whether we would have any disciplinary action … let him know if he was released [Saturday] morning.”

Gregg then came up to the press box to talk.

“In the conversation I was having with Dale [in Milwaukee], I didn’t understand exactly what he was saying,” Gregg said. “Unfortunately for myself, it kind of got under my skin.

“Now that I have sat down with Theo and Dale again, they clarified things and I was able to cool off a little bit. It helped to be able to talk to them and see what they actually are thinking. They want to get a look at Pedro, but they are not going to take anything from me, either. They wanted to work together to see what the future holds for the organization with him and myself. I am OK with that. I like that idea.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/20 Epstein: Evaluation continues

Theo Epstein said Friday he understands the speculation about Dale Sveum’s status after the Cubs president of baseball operations said the manager was being evaluated. But Epstein added the review is a normal process. Sveum is finishing his second season as the Cubs manager, and has one year remaining on his contract with an option for 2015. On Tuesday in Milwaukee, Epstein would not confirm whether the manager was returning next year.

“I gave an answer that could be interpreted a number of different ways,” Epstein said Friday at Wrigley Field. “The bottom line is we have a process at the end of the year, unless it’s been a perfect season and everyone gets pats on the back. Until we get to where we want to be as an organization, everyone, including myself, gets evaluated and we look to find places where we can do things better next year.”

Speculation has begun in the Chicago media on who would possibly succeed Sveum. Epstein dismissed talk about any names.

“We wouldn’t be doing our job if there wasn’t an evaluation process,” Epstein said. “I totally understand that [for the media] it became a story. We answer questions honestly. Is anyone definitely coming back? At this point, Well, no, because we’re in the midst of an evaluation process.

“That’s really standard for this time of year,” he said, “and it’ll be resolved quickly after the season and we’ll move forward. I’m proud of a lot of what Dale and the staff have accomplished with the big league team this year in certain areas.”

A decision could come as early as Sept. 30 when Epstein, Sveum and the coaching staff were expected to meet in Chicago.

– Carrie Muskat

9/17 Free agency not the answer now

The Cubs offense has sputtered this season, and one of Theo Epstein’s offseason goals is to find creative ways to have a more productive lineup, just don’t expect the team to be spending on free agents.

“Right now, we’re clearly no where close to where we want to be offensively,” said Epstein, who met with manager Dale Sveum on Tuesday to discuss the roster. “Getting on base will be a hallmark of this organization and we’re not good at it yet. And frankly, a lot of the more talented young hitters who we have coming tend to be more aggressive and not naturally on the patient side.”

Finding those perfect hitters won’t be easy.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to where we need to be through free agency for the short term, honestly,” Epstein said. “Given the needs that we have and where we are and the likely price tags on the market, I don’t think we’ll have the ability to add multiple impact pieces in free agency.

“We’re going to have to take a multi-dimensional approach to changing things,” he said. “We won’t solve our problems through free agency. It’s a very viable and sometimes attractive way to add talent and to be a great organization you have to do it from time to time. Given our situation on a lot of fronts it’s not the cure for our ills.”

The Cubs have gotten the go-ahead from the city of Chicago to install a video scoreboard at Wrigley Field next season but have yet to determine whether they can do that because of possible litigation from roof top owners. What does that have to do with the team? The Cubs need the revenue from advertising on the scoreboard.

“We know we’re not going to be able to pick and chose what we want in free agency,” Epstein said. “We’re going to be aggressive where we can be, and when we can be.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/17 Theo, Sveum meet

Theo Epstein said Dale Sveum has done a “remarkable job” maintaining a good clubhouse despite two rough seasons but also said the manager was being evaluated with the rest of the coaching staff and a decision on his future would be made after the season.

Asked directly whether Sveum would be back in 2014, Epstein said they will go through a check list, and added “there are no alarm bells to ring” but it is a subject that will be addressed once the evaluation process is completed.

Epstein met with Sveum on Tuesday at Miller Park for about four hours to go over the roster, the coaching staff and the manager’s performance this season.

Sveum was tested on Monday when he and pitcher Edwin Jackson clashed in the dugout because the right-hander was not happy about being pulled after four innings. It was the first public incident in Sveum’s two seasons with the Cubs.

“With respect to keeping the clubhouse incident free, I think he’s done a remarkable job,” Epstein said Tuesday. “That really is the first such incident in two very difficult seasons which I think is a feather in Dale’s cap.”

Epstein complimented Sveum’s demeanor rubbing off on the players in the clubhouse.

“There haven’t been many conflicts with players,” Epstein said. “Obviously, everything hasn’t gone the way we wanted the last two years but as far as incidents and tempers flaring, there haven’t been that many. I think teams sometimes take on the personality of their manager, and Dale being so even keel has rubbed off on the atmosphere here.”

The Cubs lost 101 games last season, and will not finish with 100 losses this year but will likely be in last place in the National League Central.

“I think we’ve been very up front that we’re not evaluating Dale on wins and losses,” Epstein said. “Our record is more of a reflection of the roster that we’ve put on the field as a baseball operations department and where we are in this building process. I don’t hold Dale accountable for the record.”

So if Epstein isn’t evaluating Sveum on the record, what is he looking at? Epstein cited the development of young players; in-game decision making; the way he uses the roster; the manager’s ability to create a culture of accountability, hard work, and preparation; and the ability to develop solid, trusting relationships with players. The latter is important so the team can deal with adversity.

“Dale’s been given a difficult hand to play at times by us,” Epstein said. “There are certain categories where it’s hard to evaluate him. Any time an organization suffers back to back last place seasons, you have to examine every single aspect of the organization. We’re looking at our own decision making process in the front office and evaluating the players.”

There is no timetable, except that a decision will be made when the regular season ends.

“I think, as a whole, Dale has had a nice calming effect on the club,” Epstein said. “I think he’s established a level of professionalism here that’s admirable and held his head up high in difficult circumstances in the course of two years.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/6 Bard takes 1st step

It’s been a crazy summer for Daniel Bard, who found himself on Friday throwing a bullpen session at Wrigley Field for the Cubs, ending a week in which he’d been in four states in five days. The Cubs claimed Bard, once considered one of the best set-up pitchers in baseball, off waivers from the Red Sox. For now, he’ll work with Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio on the side, which he did Friday. There is no timetable as to when he would get in a game, manager Dale Sveum said.

Bard’s session didn’t start well as he cut his thumb on the first pitch, and it started to bleed. The right side of his pant leg was stained in blood but it’s a problem that just needed a bandage, he said.

When the right-hander was designated, Bard said he was in “baseball limbo” and not sure what would happen next.

“I was ready to hit free agency this offseason, which was fine, and then this opportunity came about, and God’s plans are a little better than mine,” he said. “I was happy to hear from Theo [Epstein]. We had a good chat and talked about the plan moving forward and here I am.”

Epstein was the Red Sox GM when he selected Bard in the first round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, and is now president of baseball operations for the Cubs.

“He’s a guy who has seen me at my best, and at my worst,” Bard said of Epstein. “It’s pretty awesome to have somebody you know is on your side.”

Bard’s struggles started when he was switched from the bullpen to starting.

“I don’t think it was a bad move,” he said Friday. “We, the coaches over there and myself included, we tried to change too many things to turn me from a reliever to a starter. I could’ve just taken the pitcher I was in the bullpen for four years and plopped that into a starting role and probably would’ve been fine.

“We tried to overhaul in Spring Training, and throw more changeups, cut the ball, sink the ball, change speeds with the fastball, things that I hadn’t done in the past,” Bard said. “It worked a few times, and I had some good starts, but it got me out of my game and it’s been a little bit of a journey here the past year and some injuries have gotten in the way as well. I’m healthy now. It’s a fresh environment to start working in is really exciting for me.”

Bard was bothered by a strained abdominal muscle, and said two months after that happened, he re-tore it in a different spot. The right-hander went about three months without pitching in a game.

– Carrie Muskat

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