Theo Epstein’s First Defining Moment in Chicago

I went to Citifield with some friends for the Cubs-Mets game on Friday, and for the Mets fans in the group, the Cubs were largely off of their radar.

“Rebuilding year, eh?” asked one of my buddies.  I told him it was more complicated than that.  This is the tear down year so that rebuilding can begin in earnest.  And that tear down process begins right after the all star break when trade talks heat up with the July 31st deadline for non-waiver deals begins to loom.

When Theo Epstein was hired to run the Cubs front office, hope rose as he had broken baseball’s second most notorious curse by winning two World Series with the Red Sox, but there was little he could do in Chicago until now.  So far, he’s made one key deal, sending pticher Andrew Cashner to the San Diego Padres for First Baseman Anthony Rizzo.  At present, the Cubs are an old, mediocre team.

As the saying goes, ballclubs have to sell their fans hope or wins and Wrigley fans have been sold hope for so long that Epstein’s brand of hope will need to have a lot of specifics to find buyers.  It’s far from an impossible task.  Fans of other struggling teams like the Padres or the Seattle Mariners can enthusiastically point to a core of young players and pitchers beginning to gel that might form the nucleus of their next winning team.  If a significant portion of Rizzo’s production in his first 12 games with the team (.354/.367/.688) is sustainable, then the Cubs have two future cornerstones (shortstop Starlin Castro is the other).  Outfielder/First Baseman Bryan LaHair and pitcher Jeff Samardzija are possibilities, then there isn’t much.  The stars of the farm system, outfielder Brett Jackson third baseman Josh Vitters are seen as future major league starters but not stars.

Epstein has a roster full of players who could fetch solid minor league talent in trade.  The question will be will they be of Vitters/Jackson variety or future stars.  There are always teams willing to trade top young talent (last season the San Francisco Giants traded top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler last season for a few months of outfielder Carlos Beltran).  If Epstein can work out a few deals of that variety then Cubs fans will know that he didn’t leave his vaunted acumen in Boston.

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About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at thejoyofcheese.blogspot.com. In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and www.theroot.com. I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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