WEEI>On Demand>>Theo Epstein, Cubs President of Baseball Operations, talks about Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine, Manny Ramirez, and a lot more

Theo Epstein, Cubs President of Baseball Operations, talks about Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine, Manny Ramirez, and a lot more

Jan 12, 2012|

Theo joins D&C to discuss why he left Boston for the Cubs job. Theo also shares his thoughts on many things, including the September collapse, Ben Cherington, Bobby Valentine, Manny Ramirez, Papelbon, Bard, Lackey, Crawford, and of course, the compensation issue.

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Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

As promised joining us on the AT&T -- get a fast with forgy AT&T rethink possible the president of the Chicago Cubs Theo Epstein deal thanks -- get up early this morning I know you're -- night -- you are you wide -- to talk to -- it and get them -- -- -- got -- pay up briefly spent a lot of time on this but can you give -- a very short version compare and contrast being the GM in Boston and the president in Chicago. Yeah -- there -- a lot of similarities. You know it could help the helper on the baseball operations. Franchises that are you know similarly situated that you know great fan bases very pop -- by history. And you know in the Cubs case. You know 103 years that winning and then in Boston it took over the five years when he -- that there -- a lot of parallels I think we're. We're a little bit different spot here. Then. -- the Red Sox are right now and then it even a different spot than -- wanted to go over in November 2002 I think there's. You know there is a little bit more of that the core in place in Boston there is right now we have a big challenge ahead of us here -- that that makes it exciting. Speaking of differences you haven't made any big free agent splash as with the Cubs yet are the purse strings considerably tighter there. Not to take their when he resources here and I think there are a lot of parallels to totally didn't Boston and he. Got that first year. That took over in Boston we you know we had Cliff Floyd Jews. Free agent in and we let him go. Intentionally so we get the draft picks and upturn in the draft picks and to get value. We brought the payroll down about twelve million dollars between 2002 and 2003. In limited number of value signing. David Ortiz -- -- million bucks. Bill Miller two years and optioned to worry about Kevin Millar. And two and a half for two years an option and then. You know traded for. Jeremy Giambi it didn't work out. I'm Mike Timlin those ball is actually pretty similar off season that year. To what to what then in my opinion is -- very successfully done and Boston this Warner. Especially with the ball and so. That's what we're doing here at Chicago right now you have made any big splashes. But we've. -- -- -- We've acquired two back to draft picks -- Latin couple of the players walk to free agency we've we've brought a number of players in their pre prime years -- I -- here. -- put any upside and the diamond to try and turn to serve re -- You organizations is that we can establish you know a real foundation for sustained success not trying to. Take shortcuts and and go for our next year I don't think we're in a position to do that are now. -- a serious question will you and your baseball people spend one minute considering. Manny Ramirez he's looking for a job you know. Now I get figured. Do you think anyone well you think he'll end up back in the big leagues. Really take on me. You know I don't know I guess he had an interview Australia and brightest you know plays -- -- Bozo like. He was he's -- -- -- beg for a job any cities sorry for the mistakes he made you want to teaches -- the you can make mistaken and say you made a -- and do the right thing and showing guys how serious is he's doing a lot of -- with a bunch -- ladies in the open. -- hope that works for a they take a lot. I want -- this though you you John Henry has made it clear that he you know he loved you love you like a son and was hoping to stay here forever. He had you under contract so why or how the the mean let you leave. Not because it's it's pretty standard it is very standard is these standards in baseball guys that. -- you know employees who are offered promotions are almost. Almost universally allowed to leave saw and it just became a huge deal but it it didn't necessarily have to be in it. I discussed that I would those with the Giants on who we're great comedians. We sat down off summer and talked about. My future that they were fantastic and that they would love and we know the American Media there forever we we just wanted to be happy we look feeder. Stay here but you know we understand that you know ten years -- long time we'll talk about it we were open about it and you know when the Cubs became a possibility has -- about the fact that I was -- the only place. That I would to really see myself after working for the red -- you can't just go anywhere but the Cubs because. Because of that -- You know the similarities between the franchises in the fact that the they haven't won a 103 years in fact it's such a great talent goes along players like if he must also and then. When they -- the promotion that it's fairly standard. Contract. Now withstanding that it happens in baseball like at these contracts all the time for promotions and it was you know we've covered a different player handle different -- had we not had the September that we had I think it would have been. Complete non story and unfortunately it became. -- -- Pretty prominent. Theo did you wrestle with the idea -- making the decision that some people might think you're bailing on a sinking ship we took the Cubs job that undermine. Yes certainly. You know that certainly bothered me but I think you know it was in the last minute decision -- something that I've talked about these guys. All year long that ventured. Talked about it for years. We. Had so many lunches were -- mistake about it ahead. You know you're the guy that I wanna take over. You know and -- -- very good chance that in the end is. Is coming for me it in the ten years the Red Sox and you know we talked about his development and all the different things he had done in the game but that -- is one or two areas where he's still needed some development time in the last two or three years specifically. I have a lot of experience in the various you do all rounded to take over so. It was a bigger picture issue it is it really transcended what happens one month as a baseball club and -- guess that just put it in the fact that. For people who cared about the situation that they really you know and maybe in the moment. You know right after September. People would be upset that if you if you take a step back. And look at the totality of the circumstances and look at look at ten years of the Red Sox and where we were our. You know when -- got here and we're where you know in the decade that we. If we're better off. You know an hour or ten years ago in the things but I was lucky -- to play a small part in contributing to. I think people would take a look and say hey he hit he gave up Wally had for ten years. I hope that there are a lot better off. And then who -- before he in the -- that he work we got here and and we wish him well I certainly wish the Red Sox well. I'm always consider myself part of the Red Sox tremendous. The -- right now in the count them enormous offensive. Theo you mentioned September and the question is an obvious one how aware were view of the problems in the club golf that led to that September collapse did you attempt to intervene and were you powerless to effect any change. Yeah we knew you know we knew something wasn't right. You know they were. All of these little small flare ups that are happening. That. That led to the meetings. You know continue meetings we encourage Tito that a meeting did. He wanted to do on the opponent and in Toronto and it didn't have the effect. That it usually has. That bothered him is concerned. We encourage the players have. Team meetings they did have multiple. 11. You know pretty significant one. Toward the end that are middle middle -- it's Cameron maybe third week of September. Thought that was gonna work it didn't end and does that mean let's be realistic about this -- the losing. Is what really compounded at all that some -- locked up when you have a team when he had a team meeting a players only meeting and it seems to go really well. You know again I think disallowed because back outside and then go out and go out there and you know you got a three run lead in the -- banning it in the all of sudden you lose the game. It's hard to that meeting to that matters -- for the you know you do that you're trying to develop. The -- and that we just played awful baseball since September. What do you won one more game Theo would have Papelbon closed out that gamer Crawford makes that catch. There's none of this happened is is Francona the manager and you're the general manager. I don't I don't bother I don't know about about all out of the consequences that I I won't say that if we if we win one or two more games. Than. No one is looking at September of 2000 -- -- as this. This month when you know an otherwise. Solid clubhouse became completely dysfunctional. And all these accusations outplayed that they're there were other periods that -- similar. During the last ten years the threat. Yeah there were periods in 2004. That were justice. So unproductive. And contentious. In the -- -- -- but guess what. You know we knew we were two and half games out of allowed card in late August that think their mid August is. 2004 and you know we want -- we got hot and and we -- at 145 and eleven down -- -- instead -- 1145 whoever was this year. And it beat him and we ended up hosting. Those idiosyncrasies in the personalities and extracurricular activities and became a great bunch of guys it's so. Don't I know I know this salacious the everything out there are. You know -- fodder to talk about and and don't get me wrong there are a lot of things that happened that shouldn't have happened should never happen about but. Don't look past the losing has -- prime driver of all of us had we want a couple more games and gotten hot in the playoffs more in the World Series that would have been. You know such a fun loving. Group all these different personalities that came together in the and like it and it would have read a lot more like 2004. Differences we lost our last game in 2004 who won the buck as far as whether it would affected you know people's futures. You know I can only speak for myself and and you know. I would have still. Follow through with the expressing my desire to pursue the opportunity in Chicago -- that was. That was more now the product of -- ten years here and wanted to count myself in the in new environment going forward and that and it not not. Reaction to what happened September 1 that. When you had that press covers with just you and and Terry Francona yeah it look like a vote of confidence a look like Francona was going to have five. Obviously he didn't and he didn't get another job unlike you we didn't get a big job do you think he got a raw deal in the end. Well yeah yeah I mean I think given given everything that he contribute you hate to see it you hate the it in the end up that way here don't they I think this is a a moment in time -- you know where the -- not a big league managers got the the great broadcasting job and I think I think he's gonna be you know whatever whatever great job opens up next -- -- Whether it's July or August or September. We're nets next off season when he has taken jobs and in. Another great chapter in his career I think -- European La Russa you know on -- -- the Boston run for Tito is going to be. Bruce's Oakland years and then if you look at the Saint Louis. Stretch in his career like where's that somewhere most. Speaking of Tito audit them out of what it what you thought -- the globe's beast that detailed his departure revealing that. The marital issues of the pain men's and secondary part of that question is who in the organization would have had an interest in airing that kind of dirty Red Sox laundry. -- well I didn't add up the pieces totally inappropriate and have no idea. Who would have an effort for Tito but it was. You know it was wrong it is an appropriate inserted at left. It left. The wrong impression about. Him and his career with the Red Sox in the year that he had felt. He knows who really disappointing at the end and hurtful for people don't know -- care about Tito and you know it's just I would like to think that that not. The basis for her her legacy. That people think about that article but I think about what -- that the Red Sox as you know there are a lot of things in the article are completely overblown. And it ended but left the impression that he wasn't able to do his job he bought is completely loses job and he did a good job we did didn't win. So I guess I think this I think it's usually good for you know you see in the game from -- from from the press box offered it in perspective. Just like. You know the year he had. When he was special assistant to Cleveland really change the way our game indicate he came back from. -- -- here in Cleveland really rations and but the with a whole new perspective on the game that fuelled him to an unbelievable later on a boxer and I think. You know. He's the first few months or a year in the broadcast -- You know we'll we'll make him even better banter so it's in the lucky enough to get in next year -- -- the not a great one on their hands on another great round. How irreparable is this Red Sox damage how big of a job do -- and Bobby V had in front of them. I think it's completing irreparable I think I think it. I think it's if anything it's you know you can. If you look only forward and not backwards and not still. You know feel the pain you know what happened in September and and the consequences of your team that I think could have been. You know 9800 win team and when the World Series had we played better and stay healthier. -- better September. If you can look only forward not backwards I think it's actually a positive because you have. You have every single player down that club feel that's something to prove personally. And thought and certainly something to prove. As a team you know those sometimes it takes. Bottoming out that are really the change -- take it takes their public. Embarrassment. Too far and that extra gear. To work even harder in the winner to change to -- to to be honest with yourself about what your weaknesses whether it's. You know whether it's. You know something -- simple haven't to develop that third -- the can be more effective on the amount of working on over the winner or something. Like hey I need to change and need to step it up in the call about nine -- hit -- -- really good player and need to build -- more of a leader being honest with yourself about that means. And and thinking about that over the Leonard showed up you know as little bit more leadership skills and then in spring training so I think I think it's going to be a positive those guys that are. I'm you know just from the conversation I had with -- right after the year there so motivated even more than normal and out of there is going to be you know a great year. -- you're you're involved in the managerial search you -- when you weren't still in office supplies in your final days here you if you had your desk in your your role we we do will surprised when they settled on Bobby Valentine was. His name up list when you were here. I think I think what happened at some point during the search process. You know they looked at -- All of the variables looked at the landscape and realize that they. Maybe they wanted a little bit more experience than there experience experience those important I think they may be that hey we need to. Place more emphasis. On experience than we had previously I think it was a you know legitimate. There's a legitimate decision to do that because I think experience is important you know. Yeah I've been when we did when we had talked about it we were looking for our managers and certain qualities and we emphasize those qualities and experience while important. Was. A little bit lower on the left and I think that was just a result of you know having -- keyed up when you know yet even experienced few Major League manager. In Philly that he but. You know he wasn't humans -- most experienced guy out there and and keep hiring Tito back in. 2003. Was as a result of emphasizing certain other. Characteristics. And so we are gonna emphasize frankly those same characteristic -- looking for. No we thought would be the next great manager but you know they they look more closely at it spent longer look at that and I did and decided that experience is really important. If you're looking for an experienced guy Bobby -- certainly jump off the list is as the most dynamic experience here and. They feel will Papelbon be missed and if you were still in charge would you prefer Bard to be your closer or move him to the starting rotation. What does that only -- appropriate for me to comment on on. Red Sox stuff. Quite that specifically about it I'll you know. Yeah I'm sure yet toppled in mr. Obama's top views you know homegrown. Police closer and you know if the decision to let him leave. You're never going to do that power desist. Yeah if you can you can get in trouble sometimes given huge for your deal is to closers so you know I think it was the sound decision enough of -- say that if you look at. Look at the relievers they've brought and you know ability. And and the Lance and Bailey especially a proven. Effective reliever never been that in the big leagues and he's gonna really help in Milan and not as experienced but. Really counted and you know great combinations. Going in -- stability and inducing ground balls and he should be really effective it is up. I really like what they've done over the ball pennant and and Bard we'll see out of him against an order of the Red -- is there any definitely have to be starter. But there's -- I think they're taking the wise approach and something that we talked about for years and what he that this looks like. If he can that he can't start and you know the ridiculous. Play as a starter and he can he can work and having total opt in and throw strikes and be just as effective as starter. He's much much more impact for the -- In that role and if it doesn't look quite writers -- tough adjustment. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Feel speaking of huge risky deals any insights from afar now now the -- removed on the failures with Lackey and Crawford. Why wouldn't have -- wouldn't call I wouldn't go out Crawford was your was. Yelling who's really tough first year the first year is absolutely failure but. I wouldn't. I wouldn't judge him as a player based -- last year I think it exists. I think he almost cared too much. I think you put too much pressure on -- worked too hard and and this wasn't himself it didn't let his athletic ability. Translate into effectiveness the way that his whole career so I think and of course he gets comfortable you see. Now we're really really dynamic player for a long time up there. It did -- ball do you feel when I know you and John Henry and you have a great relationship be kind of washed his hands. And said that wasn't my dear and and kind of blame you for the signing. But even your own team he can do that and I think you know John. You know -- an organization first kind of guy I think those are kind of unique circumstances in the bottom line that's right and think. John didn't want it. -- do that one has said that. But everyone else then you know in the organization admit that everyone knew wasn't perfect and you don't you know. They'll sit out one day looking to spend that kind of money -- think where we were. We've -- the court that the Red Sox hadn't played. And you know after acquiring -- and follows. And have in the -- in the top three starters. Lester Beckett buckle under control that we have there is there as a real opportunity kind of separate. The Red Sox out -- from I think from the rest of the division and her for the next 45 years where you have -- -- your core in place and you just -- complementing that core was. Smaller free agent signing and and and homegrown players from the farm systems those sort of broader bigger picture thing in. Andre didn't want to have that everyone else did and John I think it should decide the good owner mr. power hear baseball people and Atlanta. But a lot of success the last decades not in it and it bothered me. Yeah. And real quick on the -- yeah you have them on Lackey that I think we haven't seen. That helped the John Lackey I mean we if I look back one thing. That you we could do over is obvious to react that clause in the the Red Sox that that -- my contract went. At the time assigned to get the extra year for Tommy Johnson it's clear that you know there's something. That was less than perfect. In the elbow and -- DL and over again I think. We made too much assumption that you could still pitch. Up to his capabilities despite those in the elbow and then maybe at some point that Tommy John I think in reality that happens is. The fact that the elbow wasn't right women -- limited his -- Please please wasn't same guy I didn't have the same. Feel that Rick involved and now this incident pitches. Didn't have the same command his fastball which is everything for Herremans. He struggled. I think because of that though I'm hopeful that when he when he does return from the Tommy John -- this year getting away for this year will be good form that. Not only physically but mentally -- -- -- come back and Red Sox via. Much more -- -- rotation pitcher. Audio aren't you worth a lot more than nothing as compensation. Well you know I think yet that yet to put it contact and so. And history of baseball with the all the executives. That it changed teams. Most yes many of which were on lateral moves let alone. Those two left for promotions like I did that the history of baseball. There's really only handfuls. Of instances much there's been any compensation whatsoever. Four. For a executives though if you -- if you have a look at -- that you say you know well what Arum went -- worked. Nothing -- or something that you know that sort of I think he'd probably get an opinion on that if you after Cutler is different opinions but. Little more not that there's something to the bottom line on the executives changed teams there is no compensation. There have been influences. -- where where there is compensation. But that that competition then you know they're pretty reasonable and you know if you look at. When and Andy MacPhail -- won two World Series. Left on on a lateral move from from Minnesota to to Chicago. Back in 94 in its compensations -- the thirtieth ranked prospect in in. In the Cubs system and and a little bit of cash and so. -- I think would you say there should be competition here there should be because we agreed that should be compensations that that's part of negate that. I think you have to look at look at history and -- look at the -- involved and realize that there's no precedent for you know. Major major compensation here but. You know bottom line is we need we need to figure is about well both sides are still working on it because it was agreed to have to up your words so. If you agree that there's compensations and apt to be compensation should be. And -- you look at precedent as a guide and try to do something that's appropriate given you know. More than -- real history of baseball. Are you trying to more this so with Larry you and Larry. I've been trying to work out and -- I think normally than I could work it out is just a little bit and it just look at for a little bit of a different perspective where. Yeah I think expectations. Are different at the at the time and we're we're trying to figure something out that. Make the Red Sox happy but also hit with. You know in the center of baseball precedents so I cannot this that if one has been. This sort of been turned over and discussed a lot more in the media than it has been in the closet better and I have had. Five conversations on it in in the last few months and you know we've gotten close food haven't gotten it done and maybe you'll need some help to get it done and announced on both sides to be happy if also. You mentioned John and Tom I'm just wondered did Larry wish you luck when you walked out the door and did you leave on good terms. Yeah you know we did and you know we. Think I left on good terms of the although that is a hard time to leave because of of what happened in September so it. There wasn't enough distance every moment so including me through was so wrapped up what happened -- we are so disappointed what happened at the start that process. All the other emotions that come that come with leaving but. You know I hadn't talked. As much or at all really with Larry over the years about my future and about -- I did have a couple conversations that. I certainly talk more with John and -- about my future and about. Looking for the next challenge and about you know not want to be. You know as much as I loved -- cared about the organization not wanted to be did you ever Red Sox forever and thinking that he only live once and feel like I want to abrasive -- each round at some point as much as I loved and always really care about the Red Sox and the people there so. And that talked about a -- on Thomas more engagement those guys at the end and it wasn't Larry but there -- certainly wish each other well and you know hopefully. -- editorial wrote which was from the heart reflected the good feeling. For the Red Sox and and and for John Tom and Larry and and then you know I left a lot of good friends lifelong friends. What I hope will be lifelong friends and people have. You know -- second family there in the baseball operations department. Really really hard to leave those gas and so -- there was lot of emotion tied up in leaving for me and and that still is but. You know looking back has. I really think it was the right decision not only for me but for the Red Sox and and hopefully -- a great experience in Chicago we can win a World Series here. And the Red Sox continue to thrive in and win another World Series. -- briefly steals and were up against the clock has the an activity on Prince Fielder surprise you and are you interested in kicking those tires. -- got you know got course as as long history -- being really patient in the free agent market and he's always been Buick in that one -- two clients to. He was signed in January and you know I think their room saying the same thing about Matt Holliday and -- January to -- and -- -- ended -- -- huge deal. With Saint Louis so got usually have a trick up his sleeve and he keeps interest quiet so you know what people do it happens but it those of supply demand that the staying in this happens to -- year. Went a lot of big market clubs have. First baseman under contract during the first baseman that they like and are tied to so what will do that happens some trips golf here's something now obviously prince is a great great player. We read in the on the Chicago gossip columns all about -- -- big your new mansion have you been in every room already and -- and used every bathroom and that was at twelve million dollar mansion under because it looked just like Brady and Gisele all I remember. You got to move the decimal point wanted to be a little bit closer now -- -- that. I'm I'm here and basically in a hotel. -- you know my. I have family is still my -- -- still back in Boston so I just been here Monday through Friday at Chicago basically all it does work. And go to the hotel and sleep and go work again at the final in the Boston. On weekends. This is my wife and son and it's been nice to it to be back in Boston has yet to see my friend didn't stop mother outside the office. Now and then have a much for those so that that's part -- that delicate sort of get settled in Chicago but I think we'll always. People home in Boston and then you know possible is -- a big part of my life. You hated being famous we know that and don't be you know the dinner -- and getting people bug -- yet. Is are you famous in Chicago hit -- not going to be a lot of funny there. Well there was a lot of publicity. About about the common here which. Probably a little bit awkward for me at first but. You know -- is there that they are seeking to baseball -- here is you know there's there's a lot going on in the city and I think I cannot. Let and it didn't Boston and it could pick my spot and on my dark little corners to go hang out or -- got to pay much attention but it also will be a different sensibility years. It's kind of midwestern. Sensibility here where you know people heard people are not that they weren't in Boston -- greatly involved in the a lot of Bostonians but. I think here you know people are just. Little more mellow. And really respectful so far west and when they see it up. I learned it was really on me in Boston I had to learn to deal that -- dead and people -- -- great to me. I'm not Bostonians you know out here it will be a different side -- -- central figure out here to. Was your biggest disappointment in Boston that you didn't get heady veteran Pearl -- to play at Fenway Park. Probably if you ask that the number eleven blog at -- that goes without saying hey we we get a blender with this that field well we had a little Twitter contest today we ask all our blisters and all our followers I should say on Twitter. To to tweak. A question that they would like to ask you and we have hundreds and hundreds of questions no compensation and your relationship with Larry all those things they covered. This is the one that I think stands out and we end with this how in the world did you teach bench Arrington to sound exactly like you have. That is so funny get people brought that up in the have to bend press conference yes -- let -- glad I had never really thought about it just. You know what. I used to make fun of then. Resounding yeah like robotic in buried in the bottom of my like an atomic time as an after everyone says that. Shoot you know I guess I gotta I got spice it up a little bit makes it -- pulled it or energy to do then that sound like we we're really kidded in the officer. His businesslike tone you know he went back Harvard. Do ya guys -- guys degree there Julio is really. You know they drop the drop the business schools Begin. It helped -- -- human beings so that I'll play that side. I admired them as much as anyone in the game. He's he's degraded executive great leader great human being and I guess to -- and so it sound like someone unhappiness -- better. The oh thanks for the time this morning we appreciate you get up early in talking with us and not -- you will see the Cubs and the Red Sox. In October would that be but not that would make me happier about at the UST -- Dennis and Callahan on AT&T -- get it fast with forgy AT&T rethink possible quick time out Doc Rivers on the other side.