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Epstein: Cubs’ Focus Not Solely On 2012

Theo Epstein. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Theo Epstein. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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(WSCR) When Theo Epstein first arrived in Chicago, one of his first moves was to trade arguably the Cubs best left-handed pitcher in Sean Marshall.

The move sent Marshall to the Reds in exchange for Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes. While the trade may have appeared to be a head-scratcher, Epstein insists it’s all part of the Cubs bigger picture.

“If we were focused exclusively on 2012 at the expense of the bigger picture, we probably never would’ve made the trade in the first place,” Epstein told The Mully and Hanley Show. “We had Sean Marshall, one of the best left-handers in baseball, and he was signed through 2012. That trade was about the long-term and a chance to get three young players who can hopefully impact us for a long time.”

LISTEN: Theo Epstein on The Mully and Hanley Show


For the rest of this interview and other 670 The Score interviews click here.

That’s what the new Cubs way is all about. And as the club prepares for its first opening day under Epstein, fans won’t see young stars like Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo in the lineup.

In fact, those players aren’t even in Chicago.

“Really, that decision has to be based first and foremost on their development,” Epstein said. “I think that’s the right way to develop young players. We’ve had some success in the past doing that. We’re really focusing on their development first and then the bigger picture second. Every player in our minor league system, including Rizzo and Jackson, have individual player development plans, which is basically a list of strengths and weaknesses and what they need to do to turn themselves into big league players. As accomplished as both guys are in the minor leagues, there is still room for development. There are some weaknesses in their games that we’ve identified with them for them to work on.

“It’s easy to take your young guys and rush them into the big leagues to kind of show the fans that, ‘Hey, there’s a bright future and look at our prospects.’ But in the end, that’s a losing battle. You have to really integrate these guys into the major league roster when they’re ready.”

Epstein knows transforming the Cubs into a perennial heavy-weight in Major League Baseball will be a long, painful battle, but he’s ready for the challenge.

“It’s not an easy thing to do,” he said. “I think it’s human nature to hear what people say and I think it’s human nature to care what people think of you. No one likes to be criticized. No one likes to get negative feedback. … It’s a pretty fundamental part of having success and making decisions as a front office. You have to really go in knowing that there is going to be noise – there’s going to be negative feedback and a lot of opinions.

“We really want to focus on the people who we have here in the organization, the processes we’re building to make decisions and recognize that ultimately, the only way to make the fans and media happy in the end is by producing teams that play baseball in October and ultimately win a World Series.