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.

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

-- he outlined AT&T -- LT -- good morning Leo how are you. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- What are the challenging and the challenges and the issues that you're struggling with in Chicago with the cubs. Other house 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 focused on the cubs so much I can't Q well. You know I think I think as far as the kind of 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 floppy. Trying to identify. The 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 the daily level and and trying 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 -- -- a lot of fun but certainly we have our work it out forms. You were quoted -- -- speaking of young people on scouting and in in new blood in the organization you were quoted as saying middle Brooks of third. -- or Iglesias a short adroit at second -- -- first Lamar -- 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 the old 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 nothing nothing that dramatic another note there are no villain here's 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 talk about all time and and -- -- that concerned about it getting too big and when you start to grow it started to become insatiable. It becomes hard to. Take a reasonable long term approach. Both on the field and off the field so. So that nobility and -- -- point -- -- -- whatsoever 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 -- of my time there was managing that dynamic and you know. You know the big market focusing on young players focusing on the big picture the picture is still in patients. And I was out without. Certain things that happened at the end of that that -- -- I think they 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. Better data entry agency that big picture is I think over over ten years and look at all the players to develop all the players. We'll play at all again this year that something else. You know these -- -- that that operations department about you know how cool would be -- -- Wait and then go over a hundred years become plural it is necessary to get to a point. Where it could have that kind of although he I got remember how you reacted an object it -- and won't even consider that one yourself. It wasn't that is certainly a realistic. But it is something that we talk about all and -- the other seventy because that some respect for me it was. So the most beautiful part of the whole experience is likely gotten better off. You know how bond or without massacre -- -- guys that are -- -- and -- to start the deciding game that was really meaningful. You can but you say you know middle Brooks a 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 you -- the reality here. In order to get there you have to suffer through. Probably read it well you can get. That's the reality is that you're always taking. You're you're always trying to identify that that we're -- -- You're -- competitive environment every year the Yankees mean. Look let me look here's a look. You gotta remember how your reacted when it did a year ago that my outer bridge years you know could we had that is designed to stop that create and be patient and allow. A young -- to develop and and it has been shaping -- -- you know up implementing. A portion of V floppy that I just stop. It was as good news. Not received well in so many players of all it doesn't matter how it received but it should it doesn't affect business did affect business. They're -- people are paying good money and then there's. So that -- -- about once you once you get the point where you know you're gonna play out that every year -- world and it creates a certain expectations and there was. -- well enough to be patient. But I think at operating a little wobbly -- a competitive team on the illnesses and I'm. And when you when you need to pick your credit you know killed every year is going to be in free agency -- -- and beat them transact personal. Preference let what I think I'm better yet where that what I think I enjoyed multiple it is pure -- -- well -- that but. Reality you can't you can't it I think you'd be very difficult to say that kind of an extreme. As a cold you know reference 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 man is 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 occurred 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. You'll look you know -- it -- at all four for example right there is a girl or they're a lot of what we want a lot there isn't a lot of pressure. To bring back. And loop now to resign and Pedro I'm paying -- 1 o'clock and it was really difficult and so that's an example of that in turn attention where it made me. Because sort of business. It's important to achieve some of the band names and -- -- you wind -- and the next year 2000. And the bottom line is -- the I think. And the Eagles managed that extremely well -- so pretty manageable and that the bond together better command area and we let those guys go that they'll turn and got back. So traffic certain. All of birdie and a hole where everybody else and and we found a way to continue to continue winning I think. Things move over times and I think you think about -- as they continue to grow grow grow. And those factors in reality the ratings that is outreach and even even even a bigger indicators are there became a higher standard in all our moment and increasing. Increasing retention thought had entered the wrong word because that. -- conflict I think. More -- into the internal. But some poll of short term interest of long term interest citizens that all of the parent. Every sports organization an enemy wants and I became I became the first I know I think I'm. Our whole purpose and they get that are really good job of -- that. Over how our early in the early years in the middle years and at the very end I didn't do the job executing at IB as I do in Europe. That -- moved backward. I gave it good or more convenient and and that a lot of varied life I want you bond. I got to level -- awareness about it now -- never mind editorial. After ten years and it's hard to get things from the fact that hard to beat. As. Was adamant about their op EUR. At the beginning that's why it's important. Important why Craig I'll let you get -- you on each operate not a Clinton. Out of place where I could start over and since you're you know he's got inspired not -- post -- start over building and 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 hey -- ratings are down interest is waning a bit. We need to make a splash in the free agent market to gain the attention and the love and respect in the aberration in the face of our fans. Yeah I'm not I'm not scandalized her pocket again and specific and then there there are no villain -- think they're they're just. People doing their job the -- the reality of the big business and -- When ratings go down that that in -- lot a barometer for baseball organization Lindelof and and -- -- a little bit different their ratings are an important barometer revenues. I pick -- old are all up up and you know that the big behind in the big part of the business about the -- I mean they were here -- continue to grow up and -- That's slim that I'd live on capitol at the current election is part of the need love. The bit alternating business maybe one day you know law beyond by municipalities unfair than we don't which -- you know -- he doesn't let the reality of that stuff. There were no villain is the natural. The natural and -- 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 -- -- living. Vs how you plan for the future and Chilo are better days as we're going to be there that's saying that I've -- -- with respect and you know or is it all operational football operation about the operation in the business operations and get a good job. A lot of arms or getting in a room and talk about. And on word you know overly heavy handed about it but it but there are certain reality. Then candidate that's and the law and yet. No long talked about it about you know someplace. -- some -- You are liberating that's for the sort of whole flow of the business. Overall well. There are no villains of the part of the natural. -- -- way of saying that a big market team and and send up of our I enjoyed Moe you know. That are into it looked over and here in the sort of ignoring. The big market that are focusing on. Book and more on the gotten that all sides in and and it they'll do they'll be part of it that you and Nolan sacrificing not known but standing at what sort it out wind out. But I believe when. After ten years and that and a traffic that would get a date became. Let on and more difficult environment navigate and find -- reliable arm and I think I think there -- about the dog being mired in continued -- continued and that they cannot. Feel I'm sure data exists and I don't have -- at my disposal about how long guys in organizations 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. Had an approach and that the input we haven't Chicago now where you want to focus. On the player's overall development and could be certain factors or that that would fire the goal should be fully developed player. On the -- actually ready to play -- Dayton daily opportunity it'll all come out and and not embarrassed himself in the big losers it's actually important. -- competitive. Played like -- word yet -- -- develop a player an ideal world the -- ready to come up and said Friday that generate some reform. -- 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 but yet at that. Because your company the right where it is about big league players and -- like yelled. Lepers in the world benefit is summit. We really set out to be specific there's certain them. Goal reached fire from the political muscle fundamental but that does not -- -- completely -- it about. -- -- -- -- The omelet -- in the store right now from Gordon needs in December of of 09 minutes just before you sign 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 this makes it sound like you pressured them that this was your idea. At all television pressure -- I don't think commission pressure on the group. It was. There was -- long discussions. -- this course without the appropriate pay that off season. That a lot now that opted for a month and then you know when you're in the final days of the our contract negotiations. They're trader contract negotiations -- you're executing it you're. Now you obviously need -- call -- the final decision about. How -- don't know what he'll do yet another and self. No there wasn't -- Pressure advocate advocate you Omar and other but I think what is made out of -- blood and organizational. Decisions. You know -- you have got players can get involved in Crawford set winner. Did you. Did you have doubts that Crawford and and and I guess Gonzales to. Could play here could fit -- gonna handle this atmosphere because it isn't. Exactly work and out for either Romano Crawford's -- but as you know Gonzales is struggling mightily since you know since last season. Yeah I think you're starting to blur the line about -- out there -- were not appropriate for their comments I'm focused. So much on the but well I'll say that lets you know if you -- me dozen times over the years. That we take into account players make up a mother in law sentence in in in deciding which players to do so. That you answered of course of course but -- of that into consideration matter as I felt that I mean I think. You know I think you're involved liberated that. It perform -- -- level the way -- through his entire career and the way it did hurt a lot but insult I would not. And company including. And the same independent. Of -- 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 our trade -- we gonna you know like Lars Anderson they -- a prime in the health field I mean does that backed everything up for. You know for for a while. But again you see today. You were called went in the into consideration when you're making a move -- look at whether this sort of step at a certain position mothers the system monitor an -- on a certain spot. Patrick what without -- -- you know I don't know builder refute it if there's. If there's. A lack of depth and they did that. Send forms used them first -- wearing red and and yet you know sometimes but I period and created a surplus. And that's an area where anybody can trade -- -- -- I don't I don't another spot it's accomplished that well. The -- the last thing 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 the went to Bob Poehler 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 that's cute together favourite places -- all the stuff that came out in subsequent weeks. There it is fiction and what not the whole thing it does. Unfortunate that in the paper today you know it's rather than a month I think it totally. Antithetical to -- -- that -- established in the organization. And unfortunately -- -- -- a -- -- of quite a lot of people remember about. Help back at the decade present law I'm really proud of everything that we accomplished it is -- a remarkable honest which has essentially a little better. But dropped the ball -- That you went beyond that the world period I think we did. Stand for something. No we cannot just -- children and on the field. Our standards you know leadership and then -- players. We really -- -- -- through adversity and and there's a lot of loyalty -- at each other's back and then. The last month things. You know high profile way how well are -- -- really unfortunate as that was sort of the last battle once of people remember rhetoric in the sort of I'm -- -- that reflection. I feel that way. Doing nothing but. Appreciation. And gratitude and the opportunity that I mean Adam and for all the great times yeah. It virtually all of -- together. It still I was looking back on I really enjoy it. You know this number is not gonna do and I remember -- well certainly not been used as -- -- I feel when there is a dysfunctional clubhouse when things aren't going well maybe not for the general public to see maybe not for reporters 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 did not something we generally had to deal and usually you know. Our experiences marks. More -- violent brush fires that would crop up you know we had. A really good strong about the dynamic generally know that you wondered you fires. That'd keep going on there who wanted to achieve in the -- about things that pop -- and there we tried the triple a credit to -- of the body and usually help the manager at all and then -- is but there you know on the sort of straight of the players elevated the -- line here. -- get involved. We sort of handle -- -- within that simple book throughout. More of general under the current. Let me think that 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 my sign that Obama about that some day but there was. I think by now I understand didn't work but city. You know hopefully by now the opposition that on the field and some -- saying that we're trying to do it becomes. The group that Hillary can contend here and there out of invective and -- I'll. How are they handling of the bridge year this bridge a year and Chicago. Well. -- desperate people that different situation I mean -- break here as early. No choice we're you know we're dealt with a situation where there's. It's pretty significant -- -- There's. You know we need to we could do better in the mightily in your batters scouting and player development in the rocker style. You know aside from. It's going crazy low entry in the inside didn't televise them losing this song money. Short term it probably turn out to dinner tonight America -- The only real option here is as their leader -- overall. So the foundation for it that. Implement our guys are developed -- -- floppy go to war and so we've made a conscious. Content with them to be really transparent. And they want. I'd rather spend it here. What our plan is what our vision are gonna get there's not going to be. -- you know -- and it'll be Linear progress all the time but that we're doing things behind in the present position where we can. Contend here and -- out that all the young players for China. Both bunch of young player that -- crap they traded for acquiring an orange they're enjoying -- a -- that you rely on triple the in the Bentley. Really hard day in day out when. You know when bombers are going into the ERS they -- -- not much -- -- fans when we get there. Everything I don't remember spotted doing so far you know by being transparent about it. And showing that we have a plan I think there are -- Could Kevin Youkilis help the Chicago Cubs. I thought about spires that the that the Olympics were in it we're not necessarily. Fires as well as a number. We're doing what we can require you know to win every game that we -- but -- really well what do. Require people well in the future it yeah we're gonna be a series preview not about Margaret Beckett didn't now if I didn't hear of it -- Now why I've got to straighten out the problem is capitalism and -- -- someday that men like that just -- yup hope that cities on the team that taxpayers actually on the team that channel. -- Did you get emotional it's a satellite but no big guys offensive all the money in his maiden in baseball player salaries are so. Through the roof maybe that lead you know I've municipalities on the club capped salary that would be offered the last -- get -- -- He'll look like you know -- agreement accurate model is extreme and let -- -- -- in the national I'm. Let let the fat bears on the plug -- -- people criticized for the vote against everybody I'm sure. Sure when -- undated big -- players in the capital play her. -- 100000 dollars a year tenacity. One million the week tab where 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 incumbent love with a lump but what would they capped GM sellers tour and now. Absolutely it -- to be able. I -- 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 -- one player off the Boston Red Sox to help you out next year or that one player be that you could have for free. That that is that -- -- -- -- although at night -- -- please let me phrase. I thought -- certainly 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. He. I'm not to let people out all the injuries but. But let things haven't -- well and I think don't look back and saw the largest you know laughing at you brought. She believed that we'll be back in the rotation and give them so much news -- there and watch it on global economy you could tendered at third isn't. We've been improper and it -- a lot more common look at the gaps in his draft. That aren't that Bradley and involve our substantial long literally a bit of a lot to get excited about. And organization's embrace and and a bit operations result I think. -- then there has you know their struggle on that where you are well. Are you sifting through offers for Gaza. Every day are you doing that when you hang up from us. I'm you know -- this detention and it all just now starting to turn to to draft. You trading is so I think I think. Oil industry diplomats really say whether they can call that a irons irons -- and identifying a double players let. They will be -- -- the least I don't talk about it is it's so hard for these guys the other man up and in trade rumors and we're focusing on China or any game. Other discussions I wouldn't. We are not in the position -- and the opportunity to -- well well wolf what I'd be active from a -- Hey -- just as -- 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 to sure your pretty well aware of. That's really where we'll let me out awful on the -- over the sitting around. Somebody. So all all all make sure -- forty -- show up on Saturday is a couple there are bringing their gloves there and then they and then you need little help. The fifth that at. At we do we do all -- journalists on not the -- -- here is going to be. Great -- region in Chicago also it is -- time for everybody. Excellent Leo I appreciate the time good luck will level talked to down the road. I they Theo Epstein -- Dennis and Callahan on AT&T outlined AT&T forgy LTE.

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