(WSCR) As new Cubs president Theo Epstein continues his media circuit, he stopped by The Mully and Hanley Show on Tuesday to discuss his new role in Chicago.
Epstein talked about his plans for the Cubs, playing at Wrigley Field, the collapse in Boston and what he looks for in a manager.
Check out the full interview below:
What type of decisions are most important for you to make?
“More often than not, it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that matters. What I said yesterday is true, there are hundreds of little decisions that you make. It’s minute things. Every day there is a waiver wire. There might be a player or two that you could claim off waivers that’s gonna help you win one game down the line. That one game might be the difference. … It’s the stuff that will help us get out of one inning to win one game to win one series.
“The key to getting those decisions right is finding the right people and then building the right processes. If you do that enough, it’s baseball right? You’re going to be wrong just about half time, but the key is to be right just a little bit more than your 29 counterparts around the league. If you can do that slowly, then over time, you start to see the organization rise to the top.”
LISTEN: Theo Epstein on The Mully and Hanley Show
On the challenge of playing at Wrigley Field:
“It’s a riddle. Obviously, I’ve studied it and looked at it from afar, but we’re going to have to dive in and dig really, really deep on this issue to try and figure it out. It plays different ways at different times of the year. It’ll play differently from day-to-day. That’s going to be a much more complex situation on how we use it to our advantage, but we will. We’ll figure it out. We’re going to study it from every possible angle.”
On collapse in Boston:
“I take responsibility for all of it. I was the general manager and that’s where the buck stops. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. A lot of those stories were exaggerated – most of them were exaggerated. It wasn’t a team-wide thing. There wasn’t team-wide indulgence or across-the-board apathy. There were instances of behavior that was unacceptable. The thing that bothers me is that it couldn’t have just happened in September. There had to have been the seeds of it happening earlier in the year. Looking back, I’m upset with myself for not having sniffed it out earlier to a certain extent. We were on pace to win 100 games or something on Sept. 1, so I think the lesson I take away from this is just because you’re playing like the best team in baseball for a long stretch of time, just because you’re going to have a 100-win season, you can’t look past some small things that you see. If there’s anything going on in the organization that’s not exactly how you want it – you have to step in and fix it.”
With more people taking the ‘money ball’ approach, how do you keep a competitive advantage?
“I think the landscape is getting much more flat. As an example, my first winter as Red Sox GM in 2002-03, batting average was still valued higher in the market place than on-base percentage as a simple example. We needed a couple bats with the Red Sox, so we were able to go get David Ortiz for $1.25 million. … Ortiz went on to become Big Papi. We had no idea what we were getting with him. You can’t do that type of thing anymore. Now, the market place is very efficient. Teams value players very similarly. All that does is create a challenge to separate yourself as an organization. Now we have to out-work our 29 counterparts around the league. We have to literally use research and development in all phases of the game, trying to find small insights to help us make better decisions than the other 29 teams. It’s much more difficult to get ahead these days, but it makes it much more interesting.”
“It was an easy decision because the resources are here, and as importantly, the challenge is here. Who wants to show up to an organization where everything is already built and you have a 90-win team on paper and you have one the best farm systems in the game and you just show up and go to baseball games? That doesn’t really appeal to me. This is a great opportunity to get involved somewhat on the ground floor and build this thing into what we want it to be. Obviously the rewards are there because when we do get this organization that’s going to play in October on a regular basis and someday win the World Series, that’s going to resonate with so many people in a way that it just won’t in other markets.”
Ryne Sandberg was spotted in Chicago, could he be coming back to Chicago?
“Not talking him at all. If he’s in town, it has nothing to do with the Cubs. Mike Quade is the guy we’re going to be talking to. I’ve talked to him on the phone and I’m going to talk to him face-to-face in the next week. I look forward to getting to know him better and deciding what direction we go.
What do you look for in a manager?
“Leadership, first and foremost. You gotta have natural leadership qualities because you’re on every day. (You’re on) for 162 games during the season, plus a month and a half for spring training, plus hopefully October. Then you have to fit into the organizational culture as well. I like a manager who takes a broad view of his responsibilities so he can set a good example for the minor league staff as well.”