Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Dawn of the Epstein Era

As everyone has been talking about and reporting about today, former Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has agreed to a 5 year contract to join the Cubs. For a team without a World Series victory since the Roosevelt adminstration (Teddy, not Franklin), this has to come as good news.

Personally, I love the deal. Epstein admittedly inherits a minor league roster and an incompetent manager, but the wunderkind took a "cursed" Boston franchise and won two World Series with them. RECENT World Series, not something from the early 90s that Lou Piniella brought with him when he took over the Cubs.

This is the kind of hire that changes the culture of a loser franchise. The Cubs needed to do it. From all accounts, Tom Ricketts knocked this one out of the park, doing his due diligence and deliberately waiting to make the right choice. That's certainly not something we're used to at Clark and Addison. For me, it means that I should take back all the things I've said about Ricketts, and give him the benefit of the doubt for wanting to win baseball games his way.

Back to Epstein. Mentioning Ricketts is important because he is giving Epstein full control over baseball operations, and I really hope that the Cubs undergo a change similar to that of the Blackhawks a few years back. But Theo - clean house. Fire everyone that is associated within the baseball side of things that has some attachment to the century long culture of losing. The business side is fine; is there another team in pro sports that is as financially successful as the Cubs considering their horrible on the field prowess?

I hope that Epstein comes in, fires Mike Quade (although he was a nice guy, he simply isn't a Major League manager), the whole staff, and makes some aggressive moves to bolster the staff. Here's hoping he takes a look at Ryne Sandberg or Terry Francona quickly, and adds smart, up and coming guys to surround himself with in the front office.

Of course, there are going to be detractors, claiming that we've hired big name guys before and all that nonsense that not winning since 1908 tends to bring out in Cubs fans. But whatever his faults (see, John Lackey and Carl Crawford, combined 2011 salaries of $30,807,143), he will do something that all organizations must do, yet fail miserably in doing: organize and gear the entire organization towards winning. You will see this become a theme of mine throughout this blog (I'm talking about you, Jerry Angelo). Epstein will completely uproot and change the Cubs' culture, and that alone makes him a more valuable signing than anyone on the team.

Let's just hope the Cubs make this official quick before Epstein realizes what he's gotten himself into, pulls a Billy Beane, and goes back to the Red Sox. Let's just hope all the pill popping, beer drinking, and chicken eating persuades him otherwise.