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Epstein joins the Cubs
“Obviously, there is some scuttlebutt going on right now about things that are happening,” Epstein said. “I think it was important to develop a structure that allowed for the hiring of the GM if we got the right person.”
When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it ended talk of the so-called “Curse of the Bambino” that hung over the team, supposedly for sending Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.
Of course, the Cubs have one of their own. As legend has it, they were cursed by a tavern owner at the 1945 World Series when he was asked to leave a game because he was accompanied by his pet goat.
“I don’t believe in curses and I guess I played a small part in helping prove they don’t exist from a baseball standpoint,” Epstein said. “I do believe you can be honest and up front about the fact that a certain organization hasn’t gotten the job done and hasn’t won a World Series in a long time. And that’s the approach we took in Boston. It wasn’t a curse.”
Epstein fits the description owner Tom Ricketts put forth after he fired Jim Hendry this summer _ he uses math and formulas as one way to determine the value of players while also combining those evaluations with scouting.
The new owner, whose family took over the Cubs two years ago, was all smiles Tuesday in introducing Epstein, who was the youngest GM in major league history when he took over at 28 in Boston back in 2002 and trumped that by becoming the youngest GM to win a World Series title.
“We began that search in August and I said I was looking for someone with a background in player development, someone who has a proven track record of success, someone who has a strong analytical background and someone who has experience in creating a culture of winning,” Ricketts said. “It was also important to me that that person who would not be content with past successes but would build on those success to improve themselves and improve the organization.”
Under Epstein’s guidance, Boston went 839-619 (.575) in the regular season and a 34-23 in the playoffs, winning more than 90 games in all but two seasons.
He acquired such stars as David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Jason Bay and Adrian Gonzalez, though he will be remembered for bringing in highly-priced players who fell short, including Edgar Renteria, Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey and Carl Crawford.
Epstein has a history of smart draft moves (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz) and he has spent freely.
Epstein quickly pointed out that winning a championship doesn’t happen over night but with the right moves a struggling team can get right back into contention the following season.
“We’re going to have to grind our way to the top,” he said.
He said the Cubs would be active in free agency, but wouldn’t commit to whether the Cubs might be interested in a big-name, long-term star like Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.
“There will be a time and place for that,” he said. “I’m not going to say whether it’s now or down the road.”
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