WEEI>On Demand>>Theo Epstein: There are no villains here

Theo Epstein: There are no villains here

Jun 14, 2012|

Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, joined Dennis & Callahan to chat about his time with the Red Sox and the current status of the Cubs. Epstein talks about the challenges the Cubs are facing, how he dealt with pressures from fans and the Red Sox organization, why he decided to move on from the Red Sox, and his thoughts on how to develop the Cubs' clubhouse.

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Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

-- he outlined AT&T forgy LT good morning -- how are you. Florida there are great are you I'm a more don't find I'm wondering Theo to -- way to kick this off open. What are the challenging and the challenges and the issues that you're struggling with in Chicago with the Cubs. Other has them in last place and are they similar or dissimilar to the challenges and the issues that the Red Sox are experiencing also in last place. I don't know I'm not how obviously I'm -- I'm focused on the Cubs little on the short camps that Q well. You know I think I think as far as the -- issues that were you know labor. We've got organizational. Wide issues that were attacking you know trying to implement it a new player development and scouting sloppy. Trying to identify. A core of young talent that we can then bring to our system and and to be part of a part of our next championship club. And and then also trying you know create a new culture. No accountability of preparation big league level and and try to be as competitive as we possibly can. This year while also focusing on the big picture in the future so. There's a lot like open on its been been a lot of fun but certainly we have our work it out -- You were quoted -- speaking of young people on scouting and in and new blood in the organization you were quoted as saying middle Brooks of third. Lowrie or Iglesias a short Pedroia at second -- -- first Lamar wake catching Ellsbury in center so on and so forth. And then you said we kind of clung to that philosophy in the back of our minds knowing it was impossible recognizing and here's the key for me there was an inherent tension. Between that approach and bigger business. So I guess that begs the question -- were you pressured by the team's business interest I would daresay management or ownership. Ought to make free agent -- -- with the likes of Lackey and Gonzalez and Crawford. I mean there are always discussions along those lines I think nothing that's dramatic another note there are no villain here at the reality the reality is those. What happens in the big market. Especially when you win especially when that is incredible performance. On the field blow off the field and things get bigger and bigger bigger something that. We talked about all time and and I -- that a concern about it getting to day and when you start to grow it started becoming official ball. It becomes hard to. Take a reasonable long term approach. Both on the field and off the field so. So that nobility of it on the point a finger at whatsoever is just the reality of the situation and I was just pointing out -- you're not. In the article that. You know frankly I think something that that we did well I did well for. For both of my time there what managing that dynamic and you know. You know the big market focusing on young players focusing on the big picture the pictures -- patience. And I was out without. Certain things that happened at the end of that that -- not I can't blame myself because I. Yeah yeah distributed to date and I didn't do good enough job of managing editor -- managing. The reality they're big market team instincts are. Off a little bet it's natural and and certainly not sure that he cheated. -- that -- -- that big picture is I think over over ten years and look at all the players you develop all the players. We'll play at all again this year that something else out of you know me to romanticize -- that operations department about you know how cool would be -- -- Wait and then go over a hundred years cup plural is necessary to get to a point. We could have that kind of although he I got remember how you reacted and others reacted when we even consider that one year so. It wasn't necessarily. A realistic. But it is something that we talk about while I'm -- and know the other seventy because that some respect for me it was. So the most beautiful part of the whole experience is certainly gotten that off. You know -- -- or without massacre Salisbury at all the guys that are at a and Jon Leicester start the deciding game that was really meaningful. You can but you say you know middle Brooks at third Iglesias Pedroia Rizzo Ellsbury -- Alicia Redick and wouldn't that and wouldn't that have been fun. If it's do you think could be fun for you why wouldn't it be fun for the fans why don't you not think they could've handled that kind of -- Then but yet look at what yet so the reality -- In order to get there you have to suffer through. Probably the read -- well you can get. That's the reality is that you're always taking. You're you're always trying to identify that that are going to be Corky that your club a whole lot it had. You're a competitive environment every year the Yankees mean. Look let me look here's a look. You got to remember how you reacted when it did a year ago that my outer bridge years you know could we had that is designed to stop -- create and be patient and allow. Our young players develop and and it has its shaping change things at all you know up implementing. A portion of he -- that I just about. It was I was just use. Not received well in so many players of all it doesn't matter how it received but it -- it doesn't affect business did effectiveness. There -- people are paying good money and then there's. So that the bit about once you once you get the point where you know you're in -- play out without every year -- world and it creates a certain expectations and there was. Oh well enough to be patient. But I think at operate in the real world we -- -- put a competitive team on the illnesses and I'm. And when you when you need to pick and patted him on the field every year they've always -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- be -- -- -- personal. -- and let what I think I'm better yet where -- what I think I enjoyed well I think it's pure basketball development but then but. Reality you can't you can't it I think would be very difficult to say that kind of an extreme. As -- cold -- -- just indicate. I'm a big factor on earth are you reacted. Don't let that work. So it would that be example he said he didn't hit managed the tension on -- that pressure well. If you did if you handle it well would that have meant not signing John Lackey not signing Carl Crawford. I don't know you can say. Is it that you can make about that -- on -- under pointing out that I think. And I think we handled that we didn't know him and I don't look pretty well for for a long time and there's always. It looked you know -- it looked at all four for example right there is after all or there's a lot of what we want a lot there isn't a lot of pressure. To bring back. And Lucchino to -- aren't. -- Pedro I think -- 1 o'clock and it was really difficult and so that's an example of that in -- attention where it made me. Because sort of business. It's important to achieve some of the bad names and the nature you wind up -- again the next year 2000. -- bottom line is -- the I think. And the Eagles managed that extremely well I was -- pretty manageable and that bond together better managing it and we let those guys go that they'll turn and got back. So draft pick certain. Oh birdie and but hole where everybody else and and we found a way to continue to continue winning I think. Think -- overtimes. I think you think about it as they continue to grow grow grow. And those factors in reality the ratings that is -- in. Even even even a bigger indicators they're they're became a higher standard -- all our moment and increase in. Increasing attention thought had -- the wrong word because that. -- conflict I think. More of the into the internal. I'm pushing all of short term interest as long term interest that it just that all of the -- Every sports organization and I don't want I'd -- game -- -- game this purpose I know I think I'm. Our whole purpose and they get that are really good job of handling that. Over time early in the early years in the middle years and at the very end I didn't do the job executing that I'd be as I do in Europe. So that you can move backward. I gave it -- -- more convenient and and that a lot of varied life I want you bond. I think I -- -- level -- awareness about it I've ever run editorial last night after ten years and it's hard to get things from the rush the fact that hard to -- As. Was adamant about their philosophy. As you are at the beginning so that's why it's important. Important why I think I'll let you get -- you on each day not a rent those. But I and out of place where I could start over and since Q you know he's got inspired ball in the post and start over filling in another foundation. You are wondering what specific form those pressures. Manifested themselves. In in in in your realm in your world was was very mandate. Either clearly stated or subtly -- that said take -- and ratings are down interest is -- a bit. We need to make a splash in the free agent market to gain the attention and the love and respect and the admiration in the face of our fans. Yeah I'm not I'm not scandalized that -- popular again in specific and then there there are no -- -- think they're they're just. People doing their job series but the reality of the big business and -- When ratings go down that but -- -- lot a barometer for baseball organization Lindelof. And the ball a little bit and so -- -- are important barometer revenues. I pick and old are all looked up and you know that the big behind in the big part of the business about the -- I mean they were here yeah continued to grow up and -- That's slim that I'd live on capitol as a person that is part of the new look. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- There were no -- and this is the natural. It's -- natural and man that occurred in every sport organization there's always going to be. -- bit of a bit of a dichotomy between how you handled the president. They'll pick a good living. Vs how you plan for the future and Chilo are better at it as well it going to be -- that saying that I don't need that respect -- You know or is it all -- football operation about the operation in the business operations and we did a good job. A lot of arms or getting in a room and talk about. And on -- you know overly heavy handed about it but it but there are certain reality. -- candidate for a veteran law and yet. No long talked about it about you know I'm quite sure at some point. You are liberating the in the sort of whole flow of the business. Overall well. There are no villains of the part of the natural. Natural way of saying that a big market team and -- and at the are into it looked over and here in the sort of ignore and the big market that -- focusing on. Book and more on the gotten that all sides and and and it they'll do they'll be part of it that you and Nolan sacrificing that owns abandoning it -- sort it out wind out. But I believe when. After ten years and that and a traffic that will get a -- became. Left on -- -- more difficult environment navigate and I get reliable arm and I think I think there -- about there's a lot of them are in continued will continue it and that patterns and I. Feel I'm sure data exists and I don't have -- at my disposal about -- long guys in organization stay in the minors vs other organizations is there as an overview. And organizational philosophy really keeps guys in the minors for the Red Sox. Seemingly longer than other organizations or is that a a a misconception. Well I think we. Took an approach and that the input we have in Chicago now where you want to focus. On the player's overall development and they have could be certain bacteria or that that would -- the goal to beat a fully developed player. On the we've actually ready to play at Dayton -- if -- Thursday it'll all come out and and not embarrass himself in the big hitters especially important. They're competitive. Played quite often word do you actually want -- develop a player an ideal world the you're ready to come up and step right in Paris and perform. You know there's not a luxury. For all the reasons that we just talked about not necessarily the luxury of calling up a player or group of young players. In allowing them take their lumps over the years and finish you know finish fourth and fortunate for two periods yet at that. You got your company the right way it -- big league players and guys like yelled at me or Lester is in the world and there's some. We really set out to be specific there's certain them. Goal -- -- on the football muscle fundamental but that has not gotten completely flipped it about. -- -- -- -- The onlooker a story right now from Gordon needs in December of of 09 minutes just before you signed Crawford. And it says the owners Tom Werner and then John Henry were in Liverpool and UN delight. Wake them up and it's and according to Gordon it took some extra persuasion. For you to convince. Them to write the check for Crawford I always thought they pressured you to sign Crawford in this makes it sound like you pressured them that this was your idea. Well television -- throughout I don't think emotion pressure on the group. It was. There was -- long discussions. But this course without the appropriate take that off season. That -- now that opted for a month and then you know when you're in the final phase of the our contract negotiations. They're -- contract negotiations leader you're executing and you're. -- -- obviously -- call -- the final decision about. How hard don't know what he'll do yet another -- and self. No there wasn't -- Pressure advocate advocate you Lamar and other but I think what is made out of clothes blood and organizational. Decisions. You know -- you have got players and get involved in Crawford set winner. Did you. Did you have doubts that Crawford and and and I guess Gonzales too. Could play here could fit -- could handle this atmosphere because it isn't. Exactly work and out for either Romano Crawford's in Europe but as you know Gonzales is struggling mightily since you know since last season. Yeah I think you're starting a blur the line about -- out there -- were not appropriate for me to comment I'm focused. So much on the but I'll say that let you know -- you -- me dozen times over the years. Whether we take into account a players make up a mother and -- sentence in in in deciding which players to do so. That you brought answered of course it's course but the old that in consideration. I felt that I mean I think. You know I think you're involved -- that. It perform in the league level the way up through his entire career and the way it did hurt a lot but -- insult I would not. And company including I think the same independence. Of Carl and get back toward. What happens when you sign a first baseman or left fielder for 67 years. Does it and obviously is a ripple effect throughout the organization do you immediately say all all our first baseman or -- trade -- we gonna you know like Lars Anderson they got a prime in the outfield I mean does that backed everything up for. You know for for a while. But again you see today. You were called when they take into consideration when you're making a move you have to weather those sort of step at a certain position mothers the system monitor an -- on a certain spot. If -- flop the outfielders and you don't I don't know -- repeat it if there's. If there's. A lack of depth and they did that. Send -- used in the first place -- wearing red and and yet you know sometimes but I hit period and created a surplus. And that's an area where you know you can trade come down the -- I don't I don't another -- it's accomplished that well. Deion all the lasting you wanna do is revisits some camera but I'm compelled asked this question now on in in hindsight and having had you know all these months took to look back about how that whole thing kind of blew up at the end. Do you know do you suspect to the leak or is Beckett says the snitch is in the clubhouse who went to Bob Moeller and and share the details of -- personal life. Now I have no idea and from. You know from the article I've ever. Multiple people I'm sure there's peak together the right places and all the stuff that came out in subsequent weeks. Whatever it is they can learn what not -- whole thing it does. Unfortunate that that in the paper today you know it's rather than a month I think it totally. And the that a -- to beat those that we established in the organization. And unfortunately it's sort of a lot about it quite a lot of people remember about. Help back at the decade furcal law I'm really proud of everything that we accomplished it was you know a remarkable honestly can't answer that better. I'm proud that the ball -- That you went beyond that the World Series I think we did. Stand for something. No we -- not -- allow you know them and on the field. Our standards you know leadership and then we players. We really fought hard to play through adversity and and there's not a lot you ever at each other's back and then. The last month things. You know high profile -- how well are at its really unfortunate but that was sort of the last out was of people remembered I think in the -- sort of I mean I'm sad reflection. I feel that way. Doing nothing but. Appreciation. And gratitude and the opportunity that that we had an answer all the great times yeah. It virtually all of -- together. It while I was looking back on I really enjoy it. You know December is not gonna do that I remember no well certainly an option as and I. I feel when there is a dysfunctional clubhouse when things aren't going well maybe not for the general public to see maybe not a reporter sure in the club house every day. There are probably a myriad of reasons why it would be dysfunctional first and foremost will be some people who are dysfunctional within that system. Does management know who those people are generally speaking. That are causing these kinds of dysfunction with in the clubhouse. Are they aware management. I don't know I think it -- not something we generally had to deal with -- usually you know. Our experiences marks. More bikini -- brush fires that would crop up you know we had. A really good strong about the dynamic generally know that you -- you flyers. That attitude going on there who -- you shouldn't allow things would pop -- and that we try to beat triple overtime that from the blood and usually -- the manager at all and then occasionally out of water you know on the sort of -- straight to the players probably did you're naturally line here. I'd get the ball. We sort of handle outweigh -- you within a simple thought grant struck. More of general under the current. That was. It made -- -- what. While what was more comparable September or picking up the Chicago sun times and prior to the season and seeing the picture view on the cover walking on water. -- Well there. The book that evoke memories that I won't won't count among -- sign at the moment that that some day but there was. You know I think by now I understand how did you -- work but it. You know hopefully -- -- -- the -- that on the field and and the things that we're trying to do it becomes. The group that -- can contend year in year out of a Beckett like it I'll. How are they handling the bridge year this bridge year and Chicago. Well. Little different people that different situation I mean -- wrecked here this early in. No choice we're you know we're dealt with a situation where there's. It's pretty significant talent that was that. There's. You know we -- we could do better in the mightily in your batters scouting and player development league roster style. You know aside from. It's going crazy league entry in the inside didn't televise them losing this -- money. Short term it probably turn up and get in and night miracle here. The only real option here is as their leader Tom overall about. -- the foundation for it that. Implement our guys are developed development while you go to war and so we've made -- a conscious attempt to be really transparent. And they want. I'd rather spend it here. What our plan is what our vision are gonna get there that's not gonna be. -- you know -- the other and it'll be Linear progress all the time but that we're doing -- behind in the present position where we can. Contend year in year out -- would all the young players such. -- bunch of young players that we're drafting and trading for acquiring an orange they're enjoying you know watching that -- though it took away and stop in the Bentley. Really hard day in day out when. You know when -- are going into the ERS -- -- could not much here for our fans when we get there. Everything I don't -- they've responded good so far you know by being transparent about it. And showing that we have a plan I think there are bored. Could Kevin Youkilis help the Chicago Cubs. I thought about -- -- that the that the Olympics were in it we're not necessarily. Fires as well as a number. We're doing what we can acquire you know to win every game that we answered it really well what do. Require -- well in the future it yeah we're going to be a series figured -- about Margaret Beckett didn't now if I didn't hear of it -- Don't know why I've got to straighten out the problem is capitalism and you're open someday that men like that just set you opened the cities on the teams that taxpayers actually on the teams that channel. In Baghdad. Did you get emotional it's a satellite but no these guys offensive all the money in his maiden in good ballplayer salaries are so. Through the roof maybe that -- you know -- municipalities on the club capped salary that would be -- last ticket I wouldn't. He'll look like -- you know hit the Green Bay -- model of the green and let as he -- in the national I'm. Let let the -- Bears on the club you can people criticized for the vote against everybody I'm sure. Sure when my undated big league player to be happy to play her. Couple 100000 dollar a year tenacity. One million we -- -- at least it didn't it didn't or I don't think you'd like it carried out there too much government. I'm sure Larry and Tom would love with a lump what what would they capped GM sellers tour and now. Absolutely it -- to be able. -- -- I thought -- theoretical question here hypothetical question to the to the nth degree so I don't think this is tampering. If there was a rule that when you finish if you finish in last place you get to pluck one player off the Boston Red Sox to help you out next year or that one player -- that you could have for free. That that is absolutely doubt it although at night nightly let me phrase. I don't have the -- small enough as I can't do that but. I do think. Since you brought it up and I do you think. It's been great to see and the players later. The I'm not to -- people out -- all the injuries but. But let things haven't gone Wallin and I think don't look back and saw -- you know laughing at you brought. She plays that we'll be back in the rotation and give them so much news bruised -- -- -- -- about the time you could tendered at third isn't. We've been proud and I think there's a lot more -- look at the -- in his draft. That aren't that Bradley and involve our defense along literally bit of a lot to get excited about. In the organization been great and the and -- -- operations result I think. Brit than there has you know their struggle on themselves -- the -- you are the most. Are you sifting through offers for Gaza. Every day are you doing that when you hang up from us. I'm not just the attention and it all just now starting to turn to draft. You trading is so I think I think. Oil industry DelHomme that really say whether they can call -- a irons irons well and identifying a double players let. It would be a stinker that the league I don't like to talk about it is it's a slow are these guys circular and I'm not been in trade rumors and we're focusing on China or any game. Obvious depression I wouldn't. We are not in the position -- and the opportunity to China were well below what I'd be active from under your. Hey Theo just as they heads up of 42 of my Jimmy Fund teenagers. From the Jimmy Fund clinic are headed to Chicago this weekend watch the Cubs the Red Sox play on Saturday this is the annual Mike Gordon funded trip which I'm sure your pretty well aware of. Yeah that's really where we'll let me out awful on the me over the sitting -- Somebody. All all all make sure before forty -- show up on Saturday is a couple there are bringing their gloves there and then they and then he -- little help. The fifth at at. At I would definitely do -- journalists on not to be out here is going to be. Great weather region in Chicago -- it -- time for everybody. Excellent they'll appreciate the time good luck will level talked to down the road. I they Theo Epstein -- Dennis and Callahan on the AT&T outlined AT&T forgy LT he.

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