If you’ve driven anywhere, no doubt you’ve seen one of those “how’s my driving” signs on the back of a vehicle. I don’t know if anyone actually takes the time to call, but I decided to slap one on the rear end of Jed and Theo and see what kind of replies we got. Here was the question posed to several of the VFTB crew.

26 months into the Theo Epstein regime, where is your confidence and satisfaction level with the direction of the team?

Do you ever watch those TV shows about flipping houses? The investors will buy into even the most decrepit shanty if they think they can turn a profit. And no matter how simple or severe the job is, the first step is always the same: stripping the house down to its bare bones and getting rid of absolutely everything they don’t need or can’t use. Sometimes this process reveals some fatal flaw–dry rot, a cracked foundation, desecrated Indian burial grounds, etc.–that requires the house flippers to bulldoze the whole thing and start fresh from the ground up.

Theo and Jed didn’t need to completely bulldoze the Cubs, but it was close. And for the most part, I think they’ve done a good job of cleaning house and identifying what’s worth holding onto. I’m not sure anyone could or would have done much different from what they’ve done in their time at the helm, and I appreciate their decisive and conservative approach–appropriate when you’re trying to dig an organization out of a century-deep hole. I’m satisfied with what they’ve done so far, but that satisfaction won’t fully transition to confidence until their work starts to bear fruit on the field. I expect it’s headed in that direction. I hope I’m right. ~ Jeremiah Johnson

It’s an incomplete for me. Here’s what we know: the Cubs under Theo and Jed are making their biggest priority building up the farm system. But I don’t know if we honestly can judge their progress until we reach the point where either prospects are turning into Major Leaguers, either by being promoted or by being traded, and if when that occurs the Cubs are a competitive team. The clear best thing about the current regime is that they have a plan, whereas prior management never seemed to think beyond “we have a hole here, we have X dollars to spend, how can we fill it” without considerations of how it would impact the team long term. Under Hendry, though, it always seemed like if things broke right one year out of every few, the Cubs could go on a run and win it all. To steal a popular phrase from the political sphere, I’m cautiously optimistic that the Cubs under Theo and Jed could be a team that is extremely competitive over long periods of time. ~ Noah Eisner


Well, first, we’re only about 14 months in, it only seems like 26!

There are only a couple moves that could have been done differently to make me feel better than I do now; do-over on the Colvin/Lemahieu trade and a trade of Matt Garza before he got injured.
But no one is perfect and the organization is much better off today than it was just 14 months ago. I’m excited to see the improvements to the organization in year 2 and I think year 3 is when we’ll start to see improvements to the top level of the organization.

I’m OK with that. ~ Norm Bothwell

I’m still cautiously optimistic with Epstein & Co. – they’ve done nothing that has me planning a World Series party, but they’re also not Jim Hendry and his band of drinking buddies. It’s still way too early to tell if they’ll be successful, a year from now there might be more definitive proof. They’ve put all their eggs in one basket, so the young players they’ve drafted and signed MUST start progressing through the system rapidly. If some of the higher ceiling prospects are not forcing their promotions, there will be problems. Theo has a long-term plan, but it can’t be a rolling long-term plan. If the 2012 draft class is full of busts, I’m not tacking an extra year onto the expectation. In short, we’ve passed the ‘blame your predecessor’ phase, and moved onto the ‘we’re getting stocked with YOUR guys, they need to produce’ phase. If we have to wait more than a couple of years for the ‘dang, we’re actually winning again’ phase there will be problems. ~ Jedi Johnson

I couldn’t be happier with Theo Epstein’s direction. I figure the typical drunk-in-the-bleachers Cubs fan hates the entire management team by now, because of last year’s poor performance and the recent near-misses in the free agent market . They’re probably also miffed because even Epstein doesn’t intend to be particularly competitive in 2013. But I’m ok with that. Slow and steady wins the race. I’m happy to let the home grown and/or inexpensive talent sink or swim, even if they sink like rocks, in favor of the rebuilding process.
We do have a few folks around here who want a mammoth spending spree to “buy” some wins. I’m tired of that approach. I didn’t hate Hendry. But insanity = trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I’m a fan of ANY change and I’m happy to give it a chance to work.
So, bring on the Darwin Barneys and Luis Valbuenas and yes, even the Josh Vitters of the organization and let them play. They may not surprise us with a spectacular season, but they can entertain us while we grow. I expect great things in the not-so-distant future. Go Cubs! ~ Lizzie

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail