Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein addressed season-ticket holders on Friday at the Bank of America Theatre.
In his town hall of sorts with the Cubs season ticket holders, Epstein admitted that he has made some mistakes in the rebuilding of the Cubs organization.
One of the first mistakes that Epstein admitted to was establishing a poor atmosphere at the Major League level for development.
“I haven’t done a good job at that,” he said to a room full of season-ticket holders at the Bank of America Theatre on Friday. -Theo Epstein, ESPN Chicago
That would be one of the main reasons why Rick Renteria was hired to replace Dale Sveum as the manager of the Cubs. In all that Renteria has said since being named the Cubs manager, the new manager will put an emphasis on development and progressing the careers of the Cubs young core of prospects and players. One of the things that figures to benefit Cubs players under Renteria is a new-found sense of unity with the messages being sent to players, in particular, on offense.
“That’s one area where we had mixed messages,” Epstein said. “We had players being pulled in a couple different directions.” -Epstein, ESPN Chicago
This figures to be a direct link to the struggles of Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. Castro has struggled in each of the past two seasons for the Cubs. During the past two seasons, Castro has been given mixed messages from his coaching staff. Those mixed message have resulted in Castro appearing to be lost offensively at different times last season.
Epstein recognizes that the Cubs need to teach offense in a way that preaches on-base percentage but in a way that does not alter who the player is.
“We do stand for something from an offensive standpoint,” Epstein said. “We like to control the zone, we like to get on-base … We have to teach it in a way that allows players to be themselves.” -Epstein, ESPN Chicago
Expect changes to come to the Cubs offensive coaching staff. One thing that Epstein’s address on Friday did seem to indicate is that Sveum may have been fired–or at least, one of the reasons why he was fired–was because of the inability get through to the Cubs players offensively.
Moving on from the offense, Epstein was critical of the Cubs signing of Edwin Jackson last season. The Cubs signed Jackson to a four year, $52 million contract. A contract that was criticized since it was announced. Criticism of the contract grew louder as Jackson finished the season with a record of 8-18 with an ERA of 4.98.
“Given the situation, I think we could have been more patient,” Epstein said. “We could have been more in line with the plan. That said, when there is no pitching you have to find pitching. –Epstein, ESPN Chicago
On the surface, that comment from Epstein would seem to indicate that Epstein may be looking to move Jackson. But given his contract and perceived less than desirable trade value, the earliest the Cubs could attempt to trade the veteran starting pitcher would be at the trade deadline of next season.
Nonetheless, Epstein followed those comments by stating his confidence in the starting pitcher.
“We believe there is a lot better ahead for Edwin Jackson,” Epstein said.-Epstein, ESPN Chicago
If anything, it was refreshing to hear Epstein give a honest interpretation on the progress of the Cubs rebuild. Cubs fans have dealt with such fallacies under previous regimes that anything said was far from transparent. But in the two seasons that Epstein and his team have been in place, there has been nothing but transparency. Another sign that the front office is going about it the right way. Despite their reputations of being geniuses, Epstein and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer are willing to admit to their mistakes. Often times, that is a trait of a great leader.