Theo Epstein Has Cubs Going In Right Direction


Okay Cubs fans, bear with me. The team has gone through its worst two-year period in franchise history, and it appears this one will not be much better. Even with the dismal numbers and morale, Theo Epsein has the Cubs going in the right direction.

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Epstein has gone a long way to change a franchise that has not won a World Series in over a century. That is not an easy task.

Epstein found a franchise in Chicago that had an awful minor league talent pool, an aging major league club with bloated contracts, and a cancerous culture plaguing it. He was tasked with blowing up the team and rebuilding it from scratch.

In two years, Epstein turned the Cubs’ farm system around, which now is the second-highest rated farm system in baseball. The (near?) future looks bright with prospects like Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Kyle Schwarber, just to name a few.

Perhaps Theo erred in hiring Dale Sveum over Ryne Sandberg. I just don’t get that move. He made up for it, however, with the hiring of Rick Renteria.

Renteria, and his always upbeat demeanor, has been a godsend for Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Both players struggled last year under Sveum. In fact, Sveum threatened both players with a demotion to the minors because of their struggles. With Renteria, though, Castro has already passed his HR and RBI totals of last year in less than half the number of at-bats. Rizzo leads all first basemen in HR’s with 17. Both are making a push to be named All Stars.

Keep in mind, also, that the Cubs have lost 13 games decided by one run. With the better talent in the lineup that is on its way, this team has a different feel.

Another piece that Epstein has had to work his way around is the business side of the team. Wrigley Field has not sold out the way it has historically, and that puts a hamper on the revenue the team receives to invest in free agents. There is a plan in place to renovate Wrigley and bring in more revenue, but it has been held up by the rooftop owners at Wrigleyville.

The television contract is another area that with Epstein could bring in major revenue. Their deal with WGN expires after this season. They have another deal with Comcast Sports Net that runs through 2019, though. The plan for Epstein is to get a deal with FOX that will also run until 2019. Then the Cubs will be in a position to create their own network, like the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels and Mariners have.

Having their own network has brought BILLIONS of dollars for those teams. Not surprisingly, those teams mentioned have some of the biggest payrolls in baseball. Even though the Cubs will have to wait until 2019 for the huge payday, they will still have a considerable chunk of cash with the possible FOX deal.

With the good, young and cheap talent coming up soon, and the new cash that will be infused to the team this winter, the Cubs could be players in the free agent market.

Rick Telander wrote a piece critical of Theo Epstein’s run in Chicago so far. He talks about how bad the Cubs are now. He has a myopic view of the team, though. He just sees what is happening now, not explaining how Epstein’s plan is taking form.

When Telander does acknowledge the plan, he tries to scare fans by reminding them of past failures. Well Mr. Telander, the mess caused by the Tribune Company’s awful baseball operation isn’t something that can be undone with the snap of Epstein’s fingers. He needed to completely tear the franchise down, then build it back up. Instead of calling Epstein a fool, Telander should spend time on showing how Epstein’s plan is really advancing.

Yes, Cubs fans, things are tough right now. Theo Epstein’s five-year plan is on track, however. There is reason for hope. Instead of having a badly planned quick fix that sets back the franchise even more, Epstein is methodically plodding ahead, building a true championship contender. Just a little more patience is required.