CHICAGO — Theo Epstein was introduced Tuesday as the new president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, who hope he can work the same magic for championship-starved team as he did for the Boston Red Sox.
“Baseball is best of all when you win. That’s why I’m here today,” Epstein said, vowing to build a better scouting and farm system for the Cubs. “We won’t rest until there is a steady stream of talent” coming to Wrigley Field from the minors.
“We’re going to have to grind our way to the top,” he said.
The Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908.
Few additions to the Cubs – players or managers – have generated as much buzz as Epstein. “Cubs Welcome Theo Epstein” was splashed across the famous Wrigley Field marquee at the corner of Clark and Addison on Tuesday morning and the conference room for Epstein’s debut was packed.
The 37-year-old Epstein left the Red Sox with a year left on his contract as general manager. The Cubs finally made the announcement Friday night, but held off on the news conference until Tuesday, a travel day for the World Series.
Still to be determined is compensation from the Cubs to the Red Sox for plucking Epstein away.
Various reports say the Cubs aren’t through bringing in front office staff from other teams and San Diego’s GM Jed Hoyer and Padres assistant Jason McLeod could be reunited with Epstein in Chicago. The three worked together in Boston and Hoyer could be the Cubs’ new GM.
The Cubs haven’t been in the World Series since 1945 and haven’t won it all in 103 years. With Epstein at the helm, the Red Sox ended an 86-year drought by winning the Series in 2004 and followed that up with another title three years later.
Epstein fits the description owner Tom Ricketts put forth after he fired Jim Hendry this summer – he uses math and formulas as one way to determine the value of players while also combining those evaluations with scouting.
Under Epstein’s guidance, Boston went 839-619 (.575) in the regular season and a 34-23 in the playoffs, winning more than 90 games in all but two seasons. He acquired such stars as David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Jason Bay and Adrian Gonzalez, though he will be remembered for bringing in highly priced players who fell short, including Edgar Renteria, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey. This season it was Carl Crawford who didn’t meet expectations after signing a big contract.
Epstein has a history of smart draft moves (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz) and he has spent freely. His tenure in Boston ended poorly when the Red Sox collapsed in September and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
On Tuesday, Epstein offered good wishes to the Red Sox.
“The players, all my coworkers and friends at the Red Sox, including the fans, thanks for all the great times there,” he said. “I’m really proud of all the things we accomplished there, and I wish you nothing but the best going forward.”
One of his first business decisions will be deciding the future of manager Mike Quade, who has a year left on his two-year deal.
“We have plans to meet in person sometime over the next week,” Epstein said. “I’d like to hear his vision for the organization…We’ll get together as a group and decide where to go from there.”
With additional reporting by the WBUR Newsroom