Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’

7/12 Theo: “There’s a lot of chatter”

With the Trade Deadline on July 31, Theo Epstein is getting plenty of phone calls from teams interested in Cubs players. Matt Garza is high on some team’s lists, as well as relievers Kevin Gregg and James Russell and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

Garza is considered the best starting pitcher on the market.

“Obviously, he’s throwing extremely well and he’s very healthy and there are teams out there looking for pitching who are going to call and try to acquire him,” Epstein said Friday. “For us, he’s helping us win games now, there’s a chance to possibly retain him beyond this year, so we’ll just balance all that out and do what’s best for the organization.”

It is a busy time of the season.

“There’s a lot of chatter going on right now,” Epstein said. “I wouldn’t say anything major is imminent. There’s a lot of talk, and we’ll continue to stay abreast with what other teams are trying to do as their situation changes.”

This is the second year the Cubs have been sellers. That’s not a position Epstein wants to be in.

“We wanted to be buyers this year,” he said. “With a few breaks, this year, we could’ve been in a much different situation. If some one-run games early change, and different bullpen situations [it could've been different]. The goal every year is to be in a position where you’re looking to add and have a strong pennant push.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/12 Cubs sign more picks

Besides signing first-round pick Kris Bryant, the Cubs announced Friday they have signed two more of their top 20 picks in pitcher Trevor Clifton and catcher Will Remillard. The Cubs signed 24 of their 40 First-Year Player Draft picks, including the first 13, and 22 of the first 25.

“It’s obvious what direction we’re going and how important a robust farm system is for us,” Theo Epstein said. “It’s one thing to talk about it, and another to feel like we’re making some headway. I like the people we have in player development and the talent we have.

“One thing that will separate us as a farm system is the numerous potential impact guys we have,” Epstein said. “We’ve had some depth for a while but now there are a handful of guys we can look at, and say, ‘If we do a nice job helping them reach their ceiling, they could be potential impact players in the big leagues.’ We need those guys to get to where we want to go. It’s nice to look at that but we have a long ways to go.”

The Cubs have focused on adding more pitching in the two Drafts since Epstein took over.

“It’s starting to come,” he said. “There’s so much attrition, you have to focus on the volume.”

Clifton, a 12th-round selection, played at Heritage High School in Tennessee, while Remillard, a 19th-round pick, starred at Coastal Carolina. The players will report to the Cubs’ facility in Mesa, Ariz.

The hardest part is being patient and letting the players develop.

“We have to stay true to our vision,” Epstein said. “If you start trying to take shortcuts and rush prospects through the system, you end up short changing their development. We wish we could speed these things up a little bit.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/10 Theo, Pearl Jam give back


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, visited the South Chicago Arts Center Wednesday to announce a contribution of $130,000 from the rock band Pearl Jam and the Foundation to be Named Later in support of education and inspiring under-served young people in Chicago through the visual arts.

As part of Pearl Jam’s upcoming sold-out concert July 19 at Wrigley Field, the band is donating $2 per ticket from their Vitalogy Foundation to benefit Chicago visual arts programs Marwen and South Chicago Arts Center. The city of Chicago made the recommendation of the visual arts programs to the band. Approximately $40,000 will be donated to each organization from the foundation.

Given the Chicago connection with the concert, Epstein’s Foundation to be Named Later and Chicago Cubs Charities added to the contribution. The Foundation to be Named Later will contribute $15,000 to each organization and another $10,000 will be donated to each organization from Chicago Cubs Charities.

6/21 Summer city classic

On Saturday, the Inaugural Summer City Classic baseball game will be played, presented by Theo Epstein’s charitable Foundation To Be Named Later. The game, which will be played at Les Miller Field, University of Illinois-Chicago baseball park, will bring together two elite 16- and 17-year-old urban youth baseball teams from Chicago and Boston to bring awareness using baseball as a means to promote positive youth development. The baseball game is a part of a weekend-long series of charity events, including the “Hot Stove Cool Music” concert that celebrates baseball, music and giving back.

Attendees at the game will be treated to a memorable morning of great baseball, music and food. The game is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. CT, with Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League facing the Boston Astros. Epstein will be honorary captain of the Chicago team, and his twin brother, Paul, will be honorary captain of the Boston team.

6/18 Benefit concert Friday

Internationally known, Dropkick Murphys’ front man Ken Casey has been added to the Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago lineup, set to take place at Wrigleyville’s Metro on Friday. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons and Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper will join an all-star lineup of musicians and personalities for the second annual Chicago benefit concert. Proceeds will benefit Chicago area non-profit prorgrams funded by Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later, as well as victims of the Boston marathon. A limited number of tickets are available, and they can be purchased online at Metro Chicago.

Poi Dog Pondering, Brede Baldwin, Jimmy Chamberlin from Smashing Pumpkins, the Parkington Sisters, Scott Lucas from Local H, the Hot Stove All-Stars, and former Letters to Cleo vocalist Kay Hanley also will perform.

Hot Stove Cool Music was founded in 2000 by Gammons and former Boston Herald sports writer Jeff Horrigan. The biannual event has raised more than $5.5 million for Theo and Paul Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later. Foundation To Be Named Later was founded in 2005 by Epstein and his brother Paul as a means to create positive opportunities for disadvantaged children and families.

6/17 Concert Friday at Metro

Looking for something to do Friday night in Chicago? Don’t forget the Hot Stove Cool Music benefit at Metro, 3730 N. Clark Street, Chicago, which will feature Poi Dog Pondering. Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper will perform, along with the Parkington Sisters, Brede Baldwin, Kay Hanley, Joel Murray, and Peter Gammons and Hot Stove All-Stars. The event is sponsored by Theo Epstein’s The Foundation to Be Named Later, and a portion of the proceeds will go to One Fund Boston 2013 to support the victims of the Boston Marathon. General admission tickets are $50.

6/11 Extra bases

* Theo Epstein wasn’t worried about shortstop Starlin Castro, who was 4-for-42 (.095) and batting .243 overall.

“I just think he’s in a slump and he’s going to turn it around pretty soon,” Epstein said Tuesday. “It’s tough, and I feel bad for him that he’s going through this and obviously, we’d love better production, and hopefully we will get better production going forward. In a way, it shouldn’t be unexpected. Baseball is a game of failure and adjustments. You’d like your players to fail in the Minor Leagues so they see what it’s like and come to terms with that and make their adjustments. Starlin is so talented that he has never really failed before, so this is the first extended stretch of failure that he’s had.”

Castro never played at the Triple-A level, and has 995 Minor League at-bats. He is one of the core players the Cubs are relying on, Epstein said.

“In the long run, I think this will be good for him,” Epstein said. “He’ll find his way out of it, and be a better player for it, and the
next time he falls into a slump he’ll know how to get out of it quicker. I think Starlin’s approach will evolve over the
years as it does for most players when they get a few thousand at-bats under their belt.”

* Cubs officials enjoyed watching video of Javier Baez’s four home run night on Monday.

“It was quite a show,” Epstein said. “He sprayed it around, covered different parts of the strike zone, different pitches. His swing is really under control and that’s the great thing about Javy and his bat speed. He doesn’t have to swing for the fences. He can take a nice, normal under control swing, the type that would normally produce a line drive or a ball in the gap, and in his case there’s plenty of carry over the fences.”

Dale Sveum watched video of Baez’s blasts.

“I wish I could’ve seen where they landed,” Sveum said Tuesday. “The swings were pretty good. I’ve been watching the video anyway, but one good thing about it is he’s calmed down. He’s cut down his movement [on his swing] about 40 percent, 50 percent. It’s a lot more calm and controled.”

Baez, 20, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, was batting .291 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games. He’s also been charged with 26 errors.

“A lot of his errors have been extreme plays at the end of his range or weird things on rundowns or trying to do too much,” Epstein said. “He needs to polish that up. We actually feel better at this moment about his ability to play shortstop every day in the big leagues than we did on Opening Day because of the way he’s playing shortstop. He needs to clean it up but I have no doubt he can play shortstop at the big league level.”

* Kyuji Fujikawa underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday his right elbow. Orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Pensacola, Fla. An MRI in May revealed ligament damage to the reliever’s elbow. In 12 games this season, Fujikawa had a 5.25 ERA, giving up seven runs over 12 innings. This is his first season in the U.S. Major Leagues.

* Reliever Shawn Camp was scheduled to pitch one inning for Class A Kane County on Tuesday, his first Minor League rehab assignment since going on the disabled list with a sprained big toe May 22.

* Epstein is a little divided this week. He grew up a Boston Bruins fan but they are playing the Blackhawks in the NHL Stanley Cup final, which starts Wednesday in Chicago.

“Original six hockey is fantastic,” Epstein said. “The passion for the Hawks in town here reminds me a lot of the way it is for the ‘B’s in Boston. It’s going to be a heck of a series.”

And his pick?

“I’m hoping for a great series, good health all around,” he said diplomatically.

– Carrie Muskat

6/6 Bryant eager to play now

Kris Bryant is ready to insert himself into the Cubs lineup now.

“I obviously think I could play in the big leagues now,” Bryant said after the Cubs made him the No. 2 player selected overall. “I have that type of confidence in myself, but, like I said, that’s not my decision. I’ll leave that up to the guys in charge.”

The guys in charge include Theo Epstein, who met with the infielder in San Diego. For Bryant, it was like meeting a rock star.

“It was just crazy,” Bryant said. “I grew up watching baseball, obviously. He was the general manager who everybody knew. He was always in front of the camera. He was the guy. He won two World Series with the Red Sox. It was just crazy to actually sit down and talk to him face to face. It’s something I’ll remember forever and be able to tell my kids and grandchildren that I was able to sit down in college and meet Theo Epstein face to face, which is something a lot of people don’t get to do.”

Epstein wasn’t the only one who chatted with Bryant. Jason McLeod, vice president of scouting and player development, has strong ties with the San Diego coaching staff, which helped in terms of background checks. What did they learn?

“It’s how he carries himself on the field, how he deals with adversity, how he prepares, what kind of student athlete he was,” McLeod said of the items they checked on the list. “All the information we gathered made us feel really good about him as a person and a player.”

His mother lived in Chicago, so there are some family ties to the area.

“I know they’re all smiling back there,” Bryant said.

He also had done a little homework on the Cubs.

“I know they haven’t won a World Series in a while,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, I can do all I can to help the Cubs win one. That’s about the extent of what I know. I know it’s a great baseball city, I know it’s a great team, a lot of history to it. I’m excited and just happy I’m going to be given the opportunity to continue playing this game.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/14 Hot Stove Cool Music event June 21

Theo Epstein, Len Kasper and Peter Gammons will host the second annual Hot Stove Cool Music Chicago benefit concert on June 21 at Wrigleyville’s Metro. Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, will be joined on stage by Kasper, the Cubs’ TV play by play man, and Gammons, a Hall of Fame baseball writer. Proceeds from the event will benefit Chicago Cubs Charities and Epstein’s “Foundation To Be Named Later.” It will feature ensemble performances by headliner Poi Dog Pondering along with the Parkington Sisters, Brede Baldwin and Kay Hanley, former vocalist for Letters to Cleo. Gammons, Epstein and Kasper will perform alongside The Hot Stove All-Stars, featuring Jesse Dee, Local H’s Scott Lucas, Will Dailey, Jimmy Chamberlin and special guests.

Tickets go on sale Saturday at noon CT at and the Metro Box Office located at 3730 North Clark Street, Chicago. General admission tickets are $50, with no service fees for cash purchases. VIP tickets will also be available at

In addition to the all-star music lineup, the evening will feature a number of special guests and a live and silent auction featuring signed sports memorabilia and priceless entertainment experiences.

Hot Stove Cool Music was founded in 2000 by Gammons and former Boston Herald sports writer Jeff Horrigan. The biannual event has raised more than $5.5 million for Theo and Paul Epstein’s Foundation To Be Named Later and the Jimmy Fund. Foundation To Be Named Later was founded in 2005 by Epstein and his brother Paul as a means to create positive opportunities for disadvantaged children and families. Nonprofit partner beneficiaries include the One Fund Boston 2013, The Chicago Children’s Choir, City Year Chicago, Girls in the Game, Family Reach Foundation, Chicago Wapiti RFC, Late Night Peace Basketball League, and Garfield Park Little League.

5/1 Leave Wrigley? No way

There’s nothing wrong with Wrigley Field, Dale Sveum said. It just needs a little upgrading and the support from the city and community to do that through the proposed $300 million renovation plan. The Cubs submitted their proposed changes to the 99-year-old ballpark and the neighborhood to the city plan commission on Wednesday, and must now wait for final approval. If rejected, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team would have to consider other options, such as moving out of Wrigley.

“I think it’s hard for everyone to envision,” Theo Epstein said of the possibility of the Cubs leaving the neighborhood ballpark. “Everyone’s on record as saying their goal is to stay here and win here. Tom’s answer to that question today really underscored the importance of the project and the importance of the revenue to our vision of building a sustainable winner in a big market and behaving the way a big market should.”

Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer told players they could expect a new clubhouse by Opening Day 2014. If the renovations are not improved in time to begin work this offseason, that could be delayed until 2015.

“At this point, it depends on how long the public approval process takes,” Epstein said. “If it drags on too long, it’s going to be unrealistic to get it done this winter and then we’re probably looking at Opening Day 2015 for the renovated clubhouse. … We’re all hoping, for a lot of reasons, and not just the revenue, that we can get this moving sooner rather than later.”

The Cubs players want to see Wrigley upgraded, not abandoned.

“I know Mr. Ricketts wants to win and he’s building a winning environment here,” Anthony Rizzo said. “He’s going to do whatever it takes to get what needs to be done done. If it takes moving — I know he wants to bring a championship here, whether it’s at Wrigley or not. We all want to be at Wrigley. These renovations, I think they need to get done, to be honest, to make everything more modernized.”

– Carrie Muskat


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