CHICAGO (CBS) — With Manager Joe Maddon out and the season over, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Monday that the organization will be making changes in the interest of developing the next world championship Cubs team.
Epstein announced on Sunday that the Cubs would be parting ways with Maddon at the end of the season. The end of the season came later the same day, when the Cubs lost 9-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Epstein said Maddon was “the perfect guy for this team at the perfect time.”
“(I want to) just take a minute to thank him for everything he did for the organization and celebrate him as the best manager in Cubs history,” Epstein said.
But it is time to move on and rebuild, Epstein said.
“There will be an opportunity for change,” he said. “We’re not blowing anything up per se. That’s not the goal. But real change and real adjustments at various levels.”
For specifics, Epstein said: “You’re likely to see a director of hitting and a director of pitching join the organization to ensure that we are building these departments, teaching the game, evaluating players for where the game is now and where the game will be going.”
With regard to the team, Epstein said the players “need to work more as a team, assemble more as a team,” adding that the current team is very “individualized.”
Epstein took accountability himself for the team’s failures this year.
“When we fail, especially with the second highest payroll in baseball, that’s not on the manager,” he said.
As to the next manager, Epstein said the organization is putting together a list of candidates. But attention has already been focused on David Ross – the veteran catcher from the 2016 World Series championship Cubs team who retired when the season ended.
Ross memorably hit a home run during Game 7 of the World Series. At the age of 39 at the time, he became the oldest player to hit a home run in World Series history.
“His connection to the players on this team and his connection to the 2016 team are not necessarily assets that distinguish him,” said Epstein. “They’re not necessarily things that will be important to us. Ross is a very attractive candidate and he’s going to be evaluated on the merits, what he can bring to the table as a major league manager.”
Epstein wouldn’t say much more about the search, but did say experience as a manager isn’t required. The main message was that a change was needed.
“The reality is we are building something anew,” said Epstein. “We have to at every level of the organization and it includes some change. I laid out several areas where we are going to have change, including probably the player group.”
“I can’t tell you what decisions we’re going to make or not make,” Epstein continued. “I can just tell you we’re really intent on building the Cubs next championship team.”
Epstein wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re blowing up the roster, but he did say Cubs fans should expect some changes. As far as core guys go like Kris Bryant or Javy Baez, he said those are obviously two guys they’d like to keep around, but he also said no player on this roster is untouchable.