Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’
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
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
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
* Top prospect Jorge Soler, sidelined since June 14 with a stress fracture in his left tibia, most likely will not rejoin Class A Daytona this season, but still could play in the Arizona Fall League. Soler, 21, was examined Monday in Mesa, Ariz., where he is rehabbing, and the test results were sent to Chicago. Theo Epstein said the early reports show that Soler still needs time to heal and his leg will remain in a boot. The Arizona Fall League begins Oct. 8.
* First-round pick Kris Bryant and Dan Vogelbach, a second-round selection in 2011, were both promoted to Class A Daytona, with Bryant making the biggest leap from short-season Boise.
“In Bryant’s case, we wanted him to shake the rust off in short-season ball and get him adjusted to what life in pro baseball is like,” Epstein said. “He started out a little rough, that 0-for-5 [in first game with] five [strikeouts], but it was just a matter of getting his timing back. For the last week or so he’s just been locked in. … He had nothing much left to do at that level.”
Bryant, ranked No. 4 among the Cubs’ top 20 prospects, was named the Northwest League Player of the Week on Monday, going 9-for-17 with three doubles, one triple, a home run and five RBIs in five games.
The Cubs wanted Jeimer Candelario to continue to get regular playing time at third base at low A Kane County, plus Daytona is headed for the playoffs, which is also why Bryant was added along with Vogelbach, ranked No. 11 on the Cubs’ top 20 prospects list.
“[Vogelbach] has been pretty consistent driving the baseball and getting on base and he’s working hard on his defense,” Epstein said. “We felt it made sense for him to move up at this time.”
* Epstein, GM Jed Hoyer, and Dale Sveum will meet soon to discuss possible September call-ups.
“We don’t want to clutter the locker room with people who aren’t going to play but [add] people who we want to see and get their feet wet and get some playing time before next season,” Sveum said.
* There are no plans to have Junior Lake play anywhere but outfield with the Cubs for the rest of this season. Lake came up as an infielder, but when he was called up from Triple-A Iowa, he was inserted into the outfield because of injuries.
“Right now, with our personnel, he’s not playing third base,” Sveum said.
* Scott Baker begins his second rehab stint, with hopes of getting into a Major League game next month. Baker is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Rain interrupted his scheduled starts.
“The only limitation is health,” Epstein said.
– Carrie Muskat
Theo Epstein said Alfonso Soriano helped make the trade go smoothly.
“As far as these things go, this was relatively seamless to where we were able to monitor the market, give him an idea of what teams might be interested,” Epstein said. “When we explained why we thought it was the right time, and why it would be good for him, and good for the Cubs, he listened and took it to his family and made a decision that I think in the end was the right one.”
The Cubs dealt Soriano to the Yankees on Friday for Class A right-hander Corey Black.
Now, the Cubs do not have a player with a no-trade clause in their contract.
“I don’t look at this as a watershed moment, or a transformative moment at all,” Epstein said. “It was simply the right time for Sori to move on and open up some at-bats for Junior Lake and when [Ryan] Sweeney and [Brian] Bogusevic come back from injury, now that [David] DeJesus is back from injury, we have a chance to find out about left-handed bats and some on-base skills and see who might be in the mix for next year. It was just the right time for this particular move.”
Soriano’s eight-year, $136 million contract was the largest ever given to a Cubs player. Could they do another one? It depends on the player
“I’m of the belief that you’re never one player away,” Epstein said. “The single biggest factor in whether or not you have a chance to legitimately contend is the overall health of the organization.”
“We’re focused on building a healthy, productive, effective organization with a robust farm system, getting those players through the farm system to the big league level and gaining competitiveness that way rather than chasing one player who might make a difference.”
That doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t acquire impact players through free agency; they just won’t build their plans around that.
“We’ll know when the timing is right,” Epstein said.
– Carrie Muskat
Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus are both well aware the Trade Deadline is one week away. Any team looking for a left-handed bat and a solid defensive outfielder would be interested in Schierholtz, who was batting .313 with runners in scoring position this season. A few teams have followed Schierholtz, including the Pirates.
“It’s out of our control what happens,” Schierholtz said after Wednesday’s win over the Diamondbacks. “I love being a Cub, and hope to stay here. You never know what will happen in the next week. All we can do is go out there and focus on trying to win games.”
DeJesus’ name also has been mentioned in trade rumors, and Theo Epstein did take time to talk to the outfielder, but not about a possible move. Instead, Epstein wanted to thank DeJesus, and tell him how much they appreciate his mentorship of the younger players. DeJesus showed that during his rehab stint with the Rookie League players, many of whom are teenagers.
“He’s a really good baseball player, lived up to his contract, he’s a left-handed bat who has the exact approach we’re trying to teach in this organization,” Epstein said. “There’s a lot of value to having him here. That said, will we make him untouchable? No — no one’s untouchable. We’ll sit and weigh out the options and what’s best for the Cubs.”
DeJesus, activated from the DL on Wednesday, was prepared.
“My name’s been in the rumors before,” he said. “It’s nothing new. You’ve just got to be professional and play the game and see what happens from there.”
– Carrie Muskat
Theo Epstein planned to meet with Alfonso Soriano who was caught off guard by reports that the Cubs and Yankees were close to completing a deal which would send the 37-year-old outfielder back to the team he broke in with.
“I saw the news and got surprised,” Soriano said. “My agent told me the Yankees just called but it’s nothing serious and it’s nothing close. When I saw it on TV, I got a little surprised. I didn’t know it was coming — they put a lot of pressure on me, because a lot of friends called me and family when they saw the rumor on TV. my agent and me, we have the control. We talked, and I think if something happens, I want to be the first one to know.”
Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in Arizona on Tuesday and planned on meeting with Soriano to discuss his options. The Yankees aren’t the only team that has inquired about Soriano, Epstein said.
“They’re not the first team to call,” Epstein said. “They’re the first team to show up in the paper in their home city right away.”
Soriano has a no-trade clause. Would he consider playing for the Yankees again?
“I just focus, play baseball, play the game today,” he said. “If it happens, if I’m getting closer, I’ll think about it. Now, there’s nothing there. If the president and the GM don’t call my agent, it’s because nothing happened, nothing’s close. If it gets close, I want time to think about it. Now, there’s nothing to think about.”
It would be a homecoming for Soriano, who broke into the U.S. Major Leagues with the Yankees in 1999.
“That’s my first organization, and I enjoyed my time with the Yankees,” he said. “They have a very good team. They are the Yankees. They always make the playoffs, no matter what team they have, no matter what pitching they’ve got. They always find a way. It’s one of the best organizations in baseball.”
– Carrie Muskat
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
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
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.