Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were among the architects of the Boston Red Sox' two World Series championships in 2004 and 2007. Now, they are putting the band back together on the North Side of Chicago, hoping to duplicate their success with the Cubs.
Hoyer joked that he doesn't have any musical talent, so he'd have to "play the triangle" if they actually played music. But the reality is that these three men are exceptionally talented at what they do; McLeod said that to him, the 2007 title was more gratifying because the team on the field for Game 4 (the one where they won that series over the Rockies) had six players who he had scouted and developed. That's what McLeod said he and Hoyer and Epstein want to build in Chicago -- an organization that is a "scouting and player development machine." They cautioned, though, that there is "no shortcut and no magic bullet."
Hey, we've waited this long. I think we can be patient with these three men, who have built other winners, and proven that they know what they're doing. We are fortunate, too; both Hoyer and McLeod said that this wouldn't have happened -- bringing all three men together again -- if not for Epstein being suddenly available and hired by the Cubs. For this, we can all be grateful; McLeod, in particular, said it was tough for him to leave San Diego, which is home for him.
All three men thanked the Ricketts family for the opportunity and said they looked forward to working with men already in place -- Oneri Fleita, Tim Wilken and Randy Bush. Implicit in their statements was the idea that Bush will be kept on in some unspecified role, though that wasn't stated outright. It was telling that Tom Ricketts was not at this news conference; it was clearly Theo's show, sitting in between his cohorts, showing that Theo is the guy in charge. Both Hoyer and McLeod will report to Epstein; Hoyer will act as day-to-day GM, making decisions on trades and free agent signings, but it was also clear that Theo will, should he desire, have the final say.
Several specific topics of recent and future interest to us were discussed specifically at the news conference.
First, Epstein said that if compensation for his hire wasn't decided on by the end of the day -- and it didn't sound like they were close -- that MLB would probably give the teams an extension. How long that extension might be wasn't mentioned. A Boston Globe article from earlier today gave a hint:
Today is the deadline for the Red Sox and Cubs to agree on compensation for Theo Epstein and no tangible progress has been made, according to general manager Ben Cherington.
"It’s a difficult deal to work out because it’s too hard to quantify the value of Theo Epstein," Cherington said. "I have an idea of it and Theo doesn’t think he’s worth as much as I do. We haven’t been able to bridge that gap yet."
"Theo doesn't think he's worth as much as I do." Hee hee. I can just imagine the conversation.
Cherington: You've won two World Series. We want Starlin Castro.
Epstein: I suck, I'm past my prime. You can have Blake DeWitt.
Epstein: Ben? Ben? Okay, DeWitt and Jeff Baker.
Epstein: Ben? Ben? Hello?
Epstein said the team is getting closer to a decision on Mike Quade; he said they met for "six to seven hours" last week. He expects a resolution "within a week".
A resolution has apparently already been made about Aramis Ramirez. After recapping what the Cubs did -- exercise the team option which Ramirez declined -- Theo said Ramirez "had" a great career for the Cubs, seemingly emphasizing the past tense. He went on to say he wouldn't rule anything out, but that they'd likely be looking for "different solutions" at third base.
Finally, regarding Carlos Zambrano, Epstein said he had spoken to Z's agent, Barry Praver, and said that talk was "enlightening", and went on to say he wants to meet with Z and decide "what's best for the Cubs". It sounds to me like Z is gone, but maybe that's just my interpretation.
The bottom line is that these three men have known each other for more than a decade and have had success running baseball operations. They said they're not going to "reinvent the wheel" in Chicago, but want to develop a system that everyone's happy with and that everyone in the system subscribes to. They said they do argue -- sometimes vehemently -- but say they arrive at a consensus and move forward.
Moving forward. That's something that hasn't been done on the North Side of Chicago in many years. Sounds good to me.