Epstein ready for Cubs challenge
By SPORTS NETWORK
|Theo Epstein became the new president of baseball operations for the Cubs on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files)
CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs officially introduced Theo Epstein as their new president of baseball operations Tuesday.
Epstein spent the past 10 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, including the last nine as general manager, and built a team that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. The title in 2004 ended an 86-year championship drought for the storied franchise.
With the Cubs, he'll try to end an even longer dry spell.
It's been more than 100 years of futility for the Cubs, whose last World Series title came in 1908. The long-suffering franchise hasn't been to a Fall Classic since 1945.
"Baseball is best when you win," Epstein stated in his opening remarks at Tuesday's press conference. "That is ultimately why I'm here today. Over time, and together, we will build a solid foundation for sustained success."
Epstein has agreed to a five-year contract with the Cubs. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The Cubs reached the playoffs three times under the most-recent regime led by Jim Hendry, who was fired in August. After postseason trips in 2003, 2007 and 2008, the Cubs have stumbled in the last three seasons, finishing 71-91 during the 2011 campaign.
"I simply cannot imagine a better person for this job than Theo Epstein," said Cubs owner Tom Ricketts on Tuesday. "As a fan I am truly excited about the future of this team. Now it's time to go to work."
Epstein became the youngest GM in major league history when he took over the Red Sox in 2002 at age 28. He took on the additional role of executive vice president in 2006.
The Red Sox were expected to be the class of the American League in 2011 after the offseason acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Following a 2-10 start, the club moved to the top of the AL East during the summer before a dreadful 7-20 finish in September.
Boston eventually squandered a nine-game lead in the AL wild card race and finished a game behind Tampa Bay, a collapse that resulted not only in Epstein's departure, but manager Terry Francona's as well.
Epstein thanked the Red Sox ownership, as well as Francona, for his time in Boston and said it was time for a change -- for both the club and himself.
"I had a great 10 years with the Red Sox," he noted. "We had a lot of fun, a lot of success. We won two World Series championships. I think it was time to move on. They're in great hands. I am ready for the next big challenge and I'm ready to move forward."
Epstein said he will add people from outside the organization to his staff and speculation is that Jed Hoyer is the front-runner for the general manager's position. Hoyer, who worked with Epstein in Boston, is currently the GM with the San Diego Padres.
In addition, manager Mike Quade's status is also in question.
"I've already had a couple of nice phone conversations with Mike Quade and we plan to meet in the next week," Epstein remarked. "I look forward to sitting down with him in person and sharing my vision of the organization, and I'd like to hear his vision of the organization."
The Red Sox and Cubs have not yet agreed on compensation for Epstein, who was still under contract with Boston. If the teams cannot come to terms by November 1, commissioner Bud Selig has said he will step in to push things along.