By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Flash back to Oct. 24, 2011, the day Theo Epstein was introduced as the president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs.READ MORE: Mayor Lightfoot Delays General Iron Permit To Move To South Side Over EPA Concerns
As a veteran of 35 years watching the Cubs introduce and dismiss front office and dugout bosses for decades, I thought the rhetoric, at times, had become just more white noise. Many fine baseball men talked about resurrecting the once-proud franchise back to its historic place in the annals of time.
Enter Epstein, who much like Dallas Green and Andy MacPhail before him was an accomplished baseball man with championships in other places — which offered the Cubs hope. I rolled my eyes when Epstein offered that there will be a “Cub way” of conducting business. He described how a good organization of people and hard work would bring a sense of pride about being a Cub — and ultimately, championships.
World Series titles aren’t yet in hand for the Cubs. However, everything else Epstein promised that October day has begun to take shape.
Top-quality baseball people at the scouting and minor league level were retained from Jim Hendry’s tenure in Chicago, while many new people — in fact, more than 100 in the building — have been hired to bring the Cubs organization newfound success while updating the baseball and marketing businesses alike.READ MORE: Chicago Night Clubs Gear Up For Looser COVID-19 Restrictions As State Prepares To Enter Bridge Phase
Along with general manager Jed Hoyer and vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod, Epstein has delivered a vigorous and dynamic group of people to the work force. “The Cub Way” — much like “The Cardinal Way” — is on its way. The young Cubs outplayed the Cardinals and Pirates over a 10-day period last week, winning three of four in Pittsburgh and taking four of six from St. Louis.
“The Cub way’ is starting to develop a certain reputation,” Epstein said Monday. “Things have gone pretty well the last few years. There are probably some organizations watching how we do things. They might want to copycat it, too. What really matters is how are players feel about themselves, their teammates and how they feel about being Cubs. It’s hard to watch our team and not feel good about the way our players are feeling now.”
Outside of Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, pitching is still a place where the Cubs need help and organizational development. Few prospects have been moved up the pitching chain in the first three years by the Cubs’ group of executives. While the Cubs are envied by the entire industry in regards to position players, more work is needed in the arms race.
Epstein and Hoyer both stated a year ago that pitching was and will be their top priority as the team moves forward. Signing Lester and Jason Hammel should buy some time, as the likes of Duane Underwood, Pierce Johnson and others try to make their way up the organizational ladder.
In the meantime, nobody wants to play the upstart Cubs.MORE NEWS: Saint Joseph Catholic School Principal On Administrative Duty After Former Teacher Charged With Child Sex Crimes
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.