WEEI>On Demand>>Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, talks about Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine, Manny Ramirez, and a lot more

Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, talks about Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine, Manny Ramirez, and a lot more

Jan 12, 2012|

Theo joins D&C to talk about why he decided to leave Boston for Chicago. He also shares his thoughts on Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine, Manny Ramirez, Papelbon, Lackey, Crawford, and of course, the compensation issue.

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As promised joining us on the AT&T -- get it fast with four GAT and T rethink possible the president of the Chicago -- -- -- -- thanks -- get up early this morning I know you're -- night -- -- -- you wide -- to talk to -- it -- and get them opt out -- -- pay up briefly at a -- -- spent a lot of time on this but can you give -- a very short version compare and contrast being the GM and Boston and the president in Chicago. Yeah yeah there -- a lot of similarities. Is they help the -- on the baseball operations. Franchises that are you know similarly situated that you know great fan -- is very pop art by history. And you know in the cut case. You know 103 years winning and then in Boston -- took over the 85 years when he saw that there -- a lot of parallels I think we're. We're a little bit different spot here. Then. In the Red Sox are right now and then it even a different spot -- -- wanted to go over November 2002 I think there's. You know there is a little bit more of the core in place in Boston there is right now we have a big challenge ahead of us here -- that that makes it exciting. Speaking of differences you haven't made any big free agent splash as with the cubs yet are the purse strings considerably tighter there. Not to take their when he resources here I think there are a lot of parallels. Totally didn't Boston and he. That that first year. That took over in Boston we you know we had Cliff Floyd Jews. Freeagent and and we let him go. Potentially can we get the drastic. Upturn in the draft picks and to get value. We brought the payroll down about twelve million dollars between 2002 and 2003. In limited number of value signing. David Ortiz -- million box. Bill Miller two years an option to worry about Kevin Maher. And two and a half for two years and options and then. You know traded for. Jeremy Giambi it didn't work out. -- Mike Timlin those ball is actually pretty similar off season that year. To what to what then in my opinion is -- very successfully done and Boston this Warner. Especially with the ball and so. That's what we're doing here at Chicago right now you have made a big splashes. But we've. -- -- -- Required to -- to draft picks the Latin couple of the players walked free agency we've we've brought a number of players Stein and their pre prime years of an acre. Has put any upside ahead of them and destroy our intent to serve re calibrate. -- organizations it is so we can establish you know a real foundation for sustained success not destroy it. Take shortcuts and in -- -- next year I don't think we're in a position to do that are now. -- a serious question will you and your baseball people spend one minute considering. Many Ramirez he's looking for a job you know. Now I get figured. Do you think anyone well you think he'll end up back in the big leagues. Really take on the you know I don't know I -- -- -- -- -- an -- and brightest you know plays a small -- like. He was he's begging for Joseph begging for a job any city's sorry for the mistakes he made you want to -- -- gives the economic mistaken and say you made a mistaken and do the right thing and show you guys a serious disease doing water rove X with a bunch old ladies in the open. That -- they quickly how I want -- this though we you. John Henry has made it clear that he you know he loved you loved you like a son and was hoping to stay forever. He had you under contract so why or how the the mean let you leave. Not because it's it's pretty standard it is very standard is these standards in baseball guys that. -- you know employees who are offered promotions are almost. Almost universally allowed to leave saw and it just became a huge deal but it didn't necessarily have to be in it. I discussed that would those with the -- -- who were great comedian. We sat down Hoff Summers talked about. My future that they were fantastic and that they would love that we know interactive media there forever we redeploy and be happy we look feeder. Stay here but you know we understand that you know ten years -- long time we'll talk about -- open about it -- you know when the cubs became a possibility has opened about the fact that I was prize the only place. That I would. To really see myself after work and for the red -- you can't just go anywhere but the cubs because. Because that that. You know the similarities between the franchises in the fact that the they haven't -- -- 103 years. Factors such a great challenge others to elaborate I guess he must also and then. When they -- the promotion that is fairly standard. Contract. Notwithstanding it happens in baseball that these contracts all the time for promotions and it was you know the covered a different -- handle different layer had we not had the September that we had I think it would have been complete non story and unfortunately it became. -- -- Pretty prominent. Theo did you wrestle with the idea is making the decision that some people might think you're bailing on a sinking ship we took the cubs job. The that undermine. Yes certainly. You know that certainly bothered me but I think you know it -- in the last minute decision guests on. Talked about these gas. All your long bet -- Talked about it for years. We. Had so many launches were -- mistake about it ahead. You're the guy that I wanna take over. And very good chance that in the end is is coming for me it in the ten years the Red Sox and you know we talked about his development and all the different things he had done in the game but that is that the water to areas where he's still needed some development time in the last two or three years specifically. I have a lot of experience in the various you do all rounded to take over so. It was a bigger picture issue it is it really transcended what happens is one month as a baseball club and a -- guess that is put it in the fact that. For people who cared about the situation that they really you know and maybe in the moment you know right after September. People would be upset that if you if you take a step back. And look at the totality of the circumstances and look at look at ten years of the Red Sox and where we were. You know when Ford got here and we're where you know in the decade that we. If we're better off. You know an hour or ten years ago in the things but I was lucky -- to put a small part in contributing to. I think people would take a look and say hey he he he gave up -- had for ten years. I hope that there are a lot better off. And then who -- before he in the that he work we've got here and and we wish him well I certainly wish the red -- well. And always consider myself part of the Red Sox gambling and -- somewhere else right now with the new account -- an enormous offensive. The are you mentioned September and the question is an obvious one how aware were you of the problems in the club cult that lead to death September collapse did you attempt to intervene and were you powerless to effect any change. Yeah we knew you know we knew something wasn't right. You know there were. Are these little small flare ups that are happening. That. That led to the meetings. You know continue meetings were encouraged -- that a meeting did. He wanted to do on opponent in in Toronto and it didn't have the effect. That it usually has. That bothered him is concerned. We encourage the players. Team meetings they did have multiple. 11. You know pretty significant one. Toward the end there middle middle late summer maybe third week of September. Thought that was gonna work it didn't and and I mean let's be realistic about this bill the losing. Is what really compounded all this and brought up so we have a team when he had a team -- a players only meeting and it seems to go really well. You know -- -- -- this -- -- because back all of a sudden. Then go out and go out there and you know you got a three run lead and expanding -- and you also let you lose the game. It's hard that. Meaning to that matters -- for the you know you do that you're trying to develop. The -- and that we just played awful baseball since September. What do you won one more game Theo would have Papelbon closes out that gamer Crawford makes that catch. Does none of this happened is is Francona the manager and you're the general manager. I don't I don't bother I don't know about about all out of the consequences that I I won't say that if we if we win one or two more games then. No one of looking at September of 2000 little letters as this. This month when you know and otherwise. Solid club became completely dysfunctional. And all these accusations -- that they're there were other periods that are similar. During the last ten years the threat. You know there were periods in 2004. That -- justice. So unproductive. And contentious. In the about it but guess what. You know we knew we were two and a half games out of allow card in late August but think their mid August is. 2004 and you know we want a -- we got hot in and we -- at 145 and eleven no distractions that 1145 whoever was this year. And it beat him and we ended up hosting. Those idiosyncrasies in the personalities and extracurricular activities and became a great bunch of guys it's so. Don't I know I know this salacious details of everything out there are. You know -- fodder to talk about and and don't get me wrong there are a lot of things that happened that shouldn't happen should never happen about but. Don't look past the losing has -- prime driver of all -- had we want a couple more games and gotten hot in the playoffs more in the World Series that would have been. You know such a fun loving. Group all these different personalities that came together in the end like it would have read a lot more like 2004. Differences we lost our last game in 2004 who -- the -- as far as whether it would affected you know people's futures. You know I can only speak for myself and and you know. I would -- Follow through with -- expressing my desire to pursue the opportunity in Chicago is that was. That was more now the product -- -- ten years here and wanted to count myself -- in new environment going forward and that had it not not. Reaction to what happened September want to. When you had that press covers with just -- and and Terry Francona. It look like a vote of confidence a look like Francona was going to have five. Obviously he didn't and he didn't get another job unlike you we didn't get a big job do you think he got a raw deal in the end. Book yeah yeah I mean I think given given everything that he contribute you hate to see it you hate the it in the end up that way here don't they I think this is a a moment in time I you know where he agrees not a big league managers up. The great broadcasting job I think I think he's gonna be you know whatever whatever great job opens up next that says. Whether it's July or August or September. We're nets next off these and many has taken jobs and in. Another great chapter in his career I think you have to appear like a Russa you know on -- up the Boston run for Tito is going to be. Bruce's Oakland years and then and you don't have a Saint Louis. Strapped in his career like where's that somewhere. Well speaking speaking of Tito edit them out of what it what you thought of the globes beast that detailed his departure revealing that. The marital issues of the pain men's and secondary part of that question is who in the organization would have had an interest in airing that kind of dirty Red Sox laundry. That -- didn't add up the pieces totally inappropriate and have no idea. Who would have an effort for Tito but it was. You know I was wrong it is an appropriate inserted at left. It left. The wrong impression about. Him and his career with a Red Sox and here that he had felt. He knows who really disappointing to see yen and hurtful for people who know or care about Tito and you know is this I would like to think that that not. The basis for her her legacy. That people think about that article that we think about what -- that the Red Sox as you know there are a lot of things and articles that are completely overblown. And and it and it sort of left the impression that he wasn't able to do his job and you is completely loses job and he did a good job we did didn't win. So I guess I think this I think it's usually good for -- You -- in the game from -- from from the press box offered it in perspective. Just like you of the year he had. When he uses special assistant to Cleveland really change the way -- game indicate he came back from. We're not here in Cleveland really rations and that it with a whole new perspective on the game that fuels and to an unbelievably Iran -- and I think. You know. He's the first few months or a year in the broadcast -- You know we'll we'll make him even better banter so it's in the lucky enough to get in next year -- while the not a great one on their hands on another great round. How irreparable is this Red Sox damage how big of a job do -- and Bobby -- have in front of them. I think it's completing irreparable I think. I think it. I think it's if anything it's you know you can if you look only forward and not backwards and not -- Now feel the pain you know what happened in September and the consequences of your team that I think could have been. You know 9800 win team and when the World Series had we played better and stay healthier. -- better September. If you can look only forward not backwards I think it's actually a positive because you have. You have every single player down that feel that something approved personally. And thought and certainly something to prove. As a team you know those sometimes it takes. Bottoming out that are really the change -- take it takes their public. Embarrassment. Too far and that extra year. To work even harder in the winner to change to -- to to be honest with yourself about what your weaknesses whether it's. Now whether it's. You know something as simple haven't to develop that their -- The can be more effective on the amount of working on over the winner or something. Like hey I need to change and need to step it up in the -- about -- and it's become a really good player and need to build -- more of a leader being honest with yourself about that means. And and thinking about that over the Leonard showing up you know as little bit more leadership skills and in spring training so I think I think it's going to be a positive vote geyser. I'm you know just from the conversation I had with -- where it after the year there so motivated even more than normal if there is going to be you know a great year. We you're you're involved in the managerial search -- when you weren't still in office supplies and your final days here you -- if you had your desk near your role we we do will surprised when they settled on Bobby Valentine was. His name top list when you were here. I think I think what happened at some point during the search process. You know they looked at -- All of the variables looked at the landscape and realize that they. Maybe they wanted a little bit more experience than there experience experience those important I think they may be that hey we need to. Place more emphasis. On experience than we had previously I think it was a you know legitimate. There's a legitimate decision to do that because I think experience is important now. Yeah they're not only -- when we had talked about it we were looking for our managers and certain qualities and we emphasize those qualities and experience while important. Was. A little bit lower on the left and I think that was just a result of you know having higher keyed up when you know yet even experienced few Major League manager. In Philly that he but. You know he wasn't. You wouldn't you most experienced guy out there and and -- hiring Tito back in 2003. Was as a result of emphasizing certain other. Characteristics. And so we -- gonna emphasize frankly those same characteristic than looking for. No we thought would be the next great manager but you know they they look more closely at it spent longer look at that and I -- and decided that experience is really important. If you're looking for an experienced guy Bobby he certainly jump off the list is as the most dynamic experience here. They feel will Papelbon be missed and if you were still in charge would you prefer -- to be your closer or move into the starting rotation. What does I don't think it's appropriate for for me to comment on on the Red Sox stuff. Quite specifically the I'll you know. Yeah I'm sure yet toppled in mr. Obama's top news you know homegrown. Police closer and you know if the decision to let him leave. -- thing to do that our noses -- it. It you can you can get in trouble sometimes given huge for your deal is to -- so you know I think it was the sound decision enough of -- say that if you look at. Look at the relievers they've brought -- You know bellies and and the -- and -- -- especially a proven. Effective reliever never been that in the dignity of these can really help in Milan and not as experienced but. Really counted and you know great combinations. Going in the stability and inducing ground balls and he should be really effective it is up. I really like what they've done -- the -- and and and -- -- Seattle and again and order direct stock is there any definitely have to be starter. But there's I think they're taking a wise approach is something that we talked about for years and what he that this looks like. That he can that he can't start and you know the ridiculous. Play as a starter and he can he can work and having total opt in and throws strikes can be just as effective as starter he's much. Much more impact for the mass. In that role and if it doesn't require writers mr. tough adjustment. Then Caribbean spring training -- both slotted back in and will be -- big big feasible. Feel speaking of huge risky deals any insights from afar now now the -- removed on the failures with Lackey and Crawford. I wouldn't have -- wouldn't call I wouldn't call Crawford was your was. Yelling. First you're the first you're absolutely failure but. I wouldn't. I wouldn't judge him as a player that from last year I think you resist. I think he almost scared too much. Thank you put too much pressure on work too hard and and this wasn't himself did it analyzes athletic ability. Translate into effectiveness the way that his whole career so I think and equality it's possible you see. Now we're really really dynamic player for a long time up there. It -- -- -- do you feel when I know you and John Henry and you have a great relationship be kind of washed his hands. And said that wasn't my idea and and kind of blamed you for the signing. But -- -- -- scene you can do that and I think you know John. Then Johnson organization first kind of guy I think those are kind of unique circumstances in the bottom line that's right -- think. John didn't want it. -- do that one has said that. But everyone else -- you know in the organization admit that everyone knew wasn't perfect but you don't you know. They'll sit out one day looking to spend that kind of money that -- where we were. Would move the court that the Red Sox hadn't played. And you know after acquiring it being in dollars. And have in the -- in the top three starters. Lester Beckett buckle under control that we have there is there as a real opportunity at a separate. The Red Sox -- lies from I think from the rest of the divisions. Her for the next four to five years that you have it at your core in place and you may just be complementing that core was. -- -- free agent -- and and and homegrown players from the farm systems those sort of broader bigger picture thing and John -- didn't want to and everyone ousted in -- and make it. The side of the big donor to power your baseball people and that -- Let's a lot of the success the last decades not in it and it bothered me. The a and real quick on black -- you have them -- -- I think we haven't seen. That helped the John -- I mean we if I look back one thing. That you we could do overs. Obviously -- that clause in the the Red Sox had a backlog in the contract weren't. At the time assigned to get the extra year for Tommy Johnson it's clear that you know there's something. That was less than perfect in the elbow and -- DL and over again I think. Mean it too much assumption that you could still pitch. Updated capabilities despite those in the elbow and then maybe at some point that Tommy John I think in reality that happens is. The fact that the elbow wasn't right when and its limited his effectiveness. Complete these -- same guy I didn't have the same. Fuel has written ball in the this incident it is -- the -- commandments fastball which is everything for and then he struggled. I think because of that though. I'm hopeful that when he when he does return from Tommy John -- this year getting away for this year will be good form -- Not only physically but mentally -- welcome back there it's -- via. Much more -- on rotation pitcher. Audio aren't you worth a lot more than nothing as compensation. Well you know I think yet that -- -- it contact and so. And history of baseball with the all the executives. That it changed scenes. Most yes many of which were on the lateral moves let alone. Those who left for promotions like I -- that the history of baseball. There's really only handfuls. Of instances much has been any compensation whatsoever. Four. For a executives though if you want if you have a look at press that you say you know well -- -- without work. Nothing -- or something that you know that sort of I think he'd probably get an opinion on that -- after caller of -- opinions but. Little more not that there's something to the bottom line when executives changed teams there is no compensation. There have been influences. -- where where there is compensation. But that that compensation then you know -- pretty reasonable and you know if you look at. When an -- felt that won two World Series. Left on lateral move from from Minnesota to to Chicago. Back in 94 in -- compensation was -- -- the thirtieth ranked prospect in in. In the 'cause system and then a little bit of cash and so. -- I think wouldn't say that should be competition here there should be because we agreed there should be compensations that that's part of negate that. I think you have to look at look at history and -- look at the patents involved and realize that there's no precedent for you know. Major major compensation here but. You know bottom line is we need we need to figure is about well both sides are still working on it because it was agreed to interrupt your work so. If you agree that -- compensations and apt to be compensation should be and -- you look at president as a guide and try to -- something that's appropriate given you know. More than century real history of of baseball. Are you trying to more this so with Larry -- Larry. I've been trying to work out and no I think normally than I could work it -- is just a little bit and it just look at for a little bit of a different perspective where. Yeah I think expectations -- are different at the at the time and we're we're trying to figure something out that. -- -- -- happy but also hit with. You know in the center of baseball precedents so I cannot that this one has been. This sort of been turned over and discussed a lot more in the media than it has between the closet better and I have had. Five conversations on it and in the last few months and you know we've gotten close food haven't gotten it done and maybe you'll need some help to get it done and I want both sides to be happy if also. You mentioned John and Tom I'm just wondered did Larry wish you luck when you walked out the door and did you leave on good terms. Yeah you know we did and you know we. Think I left on good terms with the although that is a hard time to leave because -- of what happens September sort. There wasn't enough distance every moment so including me through also wrap up -- what happened and we are so disappointed in what happened that start that process. All the other emotions that come that come with leaving but. You know I hadn't talked. As much or at all really with Larry over the years about my future and about -- did have a couple conversations that. I certainly talk more with -- -- -- about my future and about. Looking for the next challenge and about you know not want to be. As much as I loved it cared about the organization not wanted to be did you ever Red Sox forever and and thinking that he only live once -- Feel like I want to embrace it in the count at some point as much as I loved and always really care about the Red Sox the people there so. And that talked about a mortgage on. More engagement those guys at the end and it wasn't Larry but there we certainly wish each other well and -- hopefully. Editorial wrote which was from the heart reflected the good feeling. For the Red Sox and and and for -- common Larry in and then you know I left a lot of good friends lifelong friends. What I hope will be lifelong friends and people have. You know Paul the second family there in the baseball operations department. Really really hard to leave those gas is so that there was lot of emotion tied up and leaving for me and and that still is but. Pelican back has. I really think it was the right decision not only for me but for the Red Sox and and hopefully I'll -- great experience in Chicago we can win a World Series here. And -- it's not continue to thrive in and when animal Serbs. Briefly steals and were up against the clock has the -- activity on Prince Fielder surprise you and are you interested in taking those tires. Scott you know got course as as long history of being really patient in the free agent market and he's always been Buick in that order to clients to. He was signed in January and you know I think -- Rome saying the same thing about Matt Holliday -- He January to go on and -- -- -- -- huge deal with Saint Louis so usually has picked up the sleeve and he keeps interest quiet so you know what people do it happens but -- those of supply demand that the -- in this happens to -- year. When a lot of big market clubs have. First baseman under contract during the first baseman that they like and are tied to so what will do that happens some trips golf here's something now obviously prince is a great great player. We read in the on the Chicago gossip columns will butcher you big your new mansion have you been in every room already -- and used every bathroom and that was at twelve million dollar mansion under close look just like Brady and -- -- remember. You gotta move the decimal point wanted to be a little bit closer now to -- that. I'm I'm here and basically in a hotel. -- you know my. My -- family is still my elections are still back in Boston so I just been here Monday through Friday in Chicago -- basically all it does work. And go to the hotel and sleep and go work again I've been final in the Boston. On weekends. To see my wife and son and it's been nice to it to be back in Boston has yet to see my friend didn't stop mother outside the office. Now and then have a much for those so that that's part -- that delicate sort against settle in Chicago but I think we'll always. People home in Boston and you know possible is -- big part of my life. You hated being famous we know that they don't be you know the dinner -- and getting people bug in yet. Is are you famous in Chicago hit -- not going to be a lot of funny -- Well there was a lot of publicity. About about the common here which. Probably a little bit awkward for me at first but. He -- they're they're seeking to baseball scenes here is you know there's there's a lot going on in the city and I think I cannot. Let and it didn't Boston and it it picked my spot and on my dark little quarters to go hang out we're not gonna pay much attention but it also will be different sensibility years. It's kind of midwestern. Sensibility shareware. You know people are people are not that they weren't in Boston -- greatly involved in the -- of Bostonians but. I think here you know people are just you know little more mellow. And really respectful so far western human -- it's up. United I learned it was really on me in Boston I had to learn to deal that -- dead and people -- for great to me. I'm not Bostonians you know out here -- will be a different side in the future control figured out here to. What's your biggest disappointment in Boston that you didn't get heady veteran -- gender -- Philly park. Probably the that the number eleven while -- -- that goes without saying hey we we get a blender with this that field well we had a little Twitter contest today we ask all our listeners and all our followers I should say on Twitter. Two to tweak. A question that they would like to ask you and we have hundreds and hundreds of questions or compensation and your relationship -- Larry all those things they covered this is the one that I think stands out and we end with this how in the world did you teach bench Harrington to sound exactly like you have. That is so funny can people brought that up to me after event press conference -- found it identical I had I had never really thought about it just. You know what. I used to make fun of then. Are sounding. Like will bottleneck in very in the bottom of my like an atomic time and an after -- said that. Shoot you know I guess I got -- I got spice it up a little bit -- -- pulled it or energy to do then that sound like we we're really kid -- the officer. Is businesslike tone you know he went back Harvard. Do it yeah. -- degree there Leo is really. You know they drop the drop the business schools Begin. It cut toxic human beings so that I'll play that side. I admired -- as much as anyone in the game. He's he's degrading executive great leader great human being and I guess some in congress sound like someone unhappy is sounding band. Bill thanks for the time this morning we appreciate you get up early in talking with us and that may -- will see the cubs and the Red Sox. In October would that be fun. Not -- would make me happier about -- the they left it with Dennis and Callahan on AT&T hotline get it fast with four GAT and T rethink possible -- out Doc Rivers on the other side.

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