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October 2011

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COMMENTS

Dustin's Drivel: The Theo-do List

Written by , Posted in General

So, Theo Epstein, you’re the new General Manager of the Cubs, huh? I tend to have a bit of a pessimistic streak, but I am truly excited that you’ve decided to leave your dream job and continue on your quest to become a Hall of Fame curse-killer in Chicago. Now, while I’m extremely confident that you are more than ready for the job, I took it upon myself to prepare a short list of tasks that will make your westward transition a little easier:

1)    Seize on your one chance to make a good first impression: Do you want to ingratiate yourself with Cubs fans immediately? Here’s your first move: introduce yourself to Mike Quade by hanging a red tag in his locker. Want to really hit a home run? At your introductory press conference, announce that you’ve hired Ryne Sandberg to replace him. Rumors are that you tried to get him to Pawtucket to skipper the Paw-Sox last year, and who would blame you? All he’s done is win. Make it so.

2)    Rekindle some of that Nomar/Manny Magic: Two of the best moves you made as general manager in Boston was to dump two beloved stars from the team before they became albatrosses around the neck of the franchise. Well, the situation is a little different in Chicago as both Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano are already well past “albatross” stage – but your mission remains the same. Yes, I’m aware that Nomar and Manny each had more perceived value when you sent them packing than both of our guys have combined. However, do you know what other teams like? Money. Pay someone to take them off your hands. I’m not sure you even need players in return. This is pure addition by subtraction.

3)    Be your own man: According to Dave Kaplan, a big part of the reason the Cubs were able to woo you successfully was Tom Ricketts’ guarantee of near total authority over player decisions. Get rid of the “near”. Ricketts seems like a good guy and I think he’s going to turn out to be a good owner (I’m sure you would agree…I mean, he hired you didn’t he?). That said, the less he’s involved in the personnel side of things the better. If he tries to get involved in your business, simply tell him Crane Kenney urgently needs his help…something about hot dog prices…and politely show him the door.

4)    Always Be Closing: You may not have noticed yet, but Jonathon Papelbon did not travel west with you. People may tell you that the team already has a closer in Carlos Marmol. Those people probably also want the Cubs to lose for another 100 years. I hear there is a guy in San Diego that could do the job though. Forget the clamoring for a big name like Pujols and Fielder, I more interested in feeling confident that the Cubs will actually win games in which they lead in the ninth inning.

5)    Commit to youth: Your reputation as a guy that likes to build a team through a strong farm system precedes you. It is debatable as to whether you actually earned that reputation or not, but that’s the book on you and it’s music to my ears. However, I’d like you to go one step further. Mandate that the new manager (see #1) is required to determine what talent is in the system now. I don’t mean just put guys like Brett Jackson on the roster – let them get meaningful at bats and see what is there.

6)    Temper expectations: Want to make the wrong first impression? Tell us all how close the team is winning and that, with a few moves, that elusive title is well within reach. Even if you think that is true, just lie to us. Tell us we’re in for a lot of pain, that you have a plan, and that the plan is going to take time (but that you’re confident it will work). Follow this piece of advice and the only way you don’t look like a hero after five years is if, God forbid, you haven’t won anything. Of course, if that happens, I assure you that you won’t be interested in sticking around anyway.

Now, I certainly haven’t done your whole job for you here, but I think this should get you well on your way to a successful first winter in Chicago. If you need any additional advice, please feel free to grab any Cubs fan you see and ask for it…I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to oblige.

  • Buddy

    7) Don’t quit “The Zack Attack.” You can make time for your day job and your band.

  • Dustin Godsey

    Buddy – I think that should be #1!

  • Doug Bagley

    Just win baby!

  • Chuck

    I have to strongly disagree with #4. Closer is the absolute last thing to worry about. Is Marmol a top closer? No, but there are much bigger fish to fry like the rotation, Outfield, 1B, 3B… you get the picture.
    #2 is going to be extremely difficult to pull off. Z is less of an issue because he is in the last year of his contract. Theo may have to slip someone a ruufy-colada to take Soriano off of our hands.

  • Buddy

    Agreed Chuck. Useful closers are not hard to find, and their value is over-stated. Just for fun, here’s a quick list of some of the best closers from 2011. How many would the average fan have predicted before the season started? J. Axford, J. Valverde, C. Kimbrel. JJ Putz, D. Storen, J. Hanrahan, B. League, F. Salas, and C. Perez. Hell, even Kyle Farnsworth went out and had a great year as a closer.

  • Dustin Godsey

    @Chuck – I agree completely that there are bigger immediate holes to fill (especially at the corners…someone is going to have to play first and third, after all). However, if this team has any hopes of being a fringe playoff team next year (and I’m not sure it does), they’re going to have to address the back of the bullpen. Walking in the winning run means a lot more when you’re 3 games out of a wild card than it does when you’re 20 games under .500.

  • Buddy

    If I was managing next year, I’d tell Marshall and Marmol that they’ll both close and they’ll both set up. Who pitches when will depend on situation, matchup, health, recent workload, peformance, etc.

  • Buddy

    I once had a boss who made a to-do list every day. The first item was always “Make to-do list.”

  • Make to-do list.

  • Chuck

    This team will not be fringe playoff team next year unless you are defining “fringe playoff team” as being a team that, in fact, plays professional baseball at the Major League level.

  • Chuck

    Don’t confuse “plays professional baseball at the Major League level” with “plays professional baseball at a Major League level”.

  • Jedi

    Aramis is demanding a multi-year deal or he’s going to walk…sounds like Theo just got another draft pick!

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/10/ramirez-demands-multi-year-deal-from-cubs.html

  • Doc Raker

    I agree with Chuck that the closer is not a priority. I have to believe Theo priority is not finding a new closer from outside of the organization. Didn’t take Aram long to start negotiating with the new GM did it. Good luck Aram, I wish you well but I hope the Cubs aren’t handing our multi year contracts to older veterans at this point.

  • Norm Bothwell

    I agree with most of the other comments about the closer. Worry about that well after the rotation and 5 or 6 of the position players.

  • Seymour Butts

    So Ricketts could have had Dustin for less than Theo?
    Mentioning Manny reminded me of seeing him on the bench just before he was traded holding a sign saying he was going to Green Bay for Favre straight up. Had to admire the sense of humor.

  • Doc Raker

    I am sure Theo will be changing the roster over to players with grit and moxie, real grinders, winners if you will real soon. I hope he doesn’t offer Aram a multiyear, just not enough moxie in Aram.

  • Eddie Von White

    Right on Doc

  • Buddy

    Maybe the Cubs will change their name to the Chicago Clutch Grinders. Then right after that, a giant meteor can destroy the Earth.

  • Chicago Oprahs, Oprah Cubs, Oprah’s Baseball Club, Oprah’s Book Cubs. Something like that…I’m sort of tired.

  • Norm Bothwell

    Saw a tweet that Theo was going to target Josh Byrnes to bring with him. Still no word on Theo’s title, but I can’t imagine GM not being a part of it, maybe Byrnes would be his right hand man.

  • Buddy

    Was the tweet from Chad Johnson?

  • Doc Raker

    The Oprah Feel Good Secular Tofu Eating Grinding Chicago Cubs!

  • The Oprah Feel Good Secular Tofu Eating You Get a Car You Get a Car Grinding Illinois Cubs of Chicago

  • Doc Raker

    The Oprah Obama Feel Good Secular Tofu Eating You Get your Rich Neighbors Car Grinding Chicago Cubs with Moxie!

  • BLPCB

    1. Better idea: Keep Quade, while giving Sandberg a position on the major league staff. We all know this team is going to be craptastic in 2012, so when we are shit at the all-star break, 20 games out, fire him and hire Ryno. This way, you can use Quade as a scapegoat. If you hire Ryno immediately, it makes Theo look bad when they’re shit
    2. Whatever it takes to get rid of Bozo and Soriano sans taking on more money and bad contracts. Eating some money to get rid of them isn’t a bad thing. In the end, you reduce money. If you have to pay 10M to get Bozo out of town so be it. Don’t let it kill the trade. Because you would have to pay Bozo 18M to be with the Cubs. Or to not play.
    3. I don’t think Ricketts is the type to butt heads with his executives.
    4. Closers are important, but overrated. Find a guy who gets 3 outs on a constant basis in the 8th inning, have him get those 3 outs in the 9th inning and magically his value skyrockets.
    5. Got to build through the draft. This organization needs a serious fundamental overhaul. Teach the same methods from A-ball to the majors. There may be other problems that are talked about, but there are serious fundamental flaws in the way the organization is run.
    6. For a few years yes. This is not going to happen overnight. Let’s get talent developed, change the methods we scout and draft, change the way we teach these players in A-ball, get the bad contracts off the books, sink a couple of seasons, and get some talent developed. It’s not about winning 1 World Series and sucking for the other 9 seasons. It’s about being in position to win a World Series all 10 years.

  • Doc Raker

    I can see them keeping Quade for the reason BLPCBTGIFLOL just explained in #1. A manager change isn’t going to do to much at this point so why give false expectations to everyone by hiring a new one so quickly. If the roster is vastly revamped then I can see making a manager change but it certainly is not a priority until real roster changes are made.

  • Deezer

    I’ve personally always loved the concept of a closer by committee. Right now (assuming Wood stays), we have 3 guys (Marmol, Marshall, Wood) who have closer-type stuff. If Wood doesn’t come back, then you still have Marmol and Marshall. If Marmol looks shaky in some outing, give it to Marshall and back it up.

    On a similar note, what moron coach (I’m assuming pitching) told Marmol that he shouldn’t go for strikeouts and should “pitch to hit” and “trust the infield”? I read that earlier this year and almost through my computer across the room

  • Doc Raker

    Sometimes pitchers get into to trouble throwing strikes when they are focused to much on strike outs. Getting a hitter to roll over on a slider is a good philosophy. If you throw your computer Deezer what do you normally throw, fastball, slider, change?