According to a transcript unearthed by Adam, Theo Epstein almost derailed the Dodgers-Red Sox mega-trade with a call to his old friend Ben.
Days ago, the Red Sox and Dodgers pulled off the most expensive trade in history, but a just-released recording of an August 20 telephone conversation between Boston GM Ben Cherington and his predecessor, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, reveals that it very nearly never came about.
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Anthony Rizzo may be making headlines, but the Cubs' much-maligned shortstop might their best hope for future success.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Sahadev Sharmais a contributor to ESPN Chicago and ChicagoSide, where he regularly covers the Cubs and White Sox. Sahadev spent four years as a radio producer at ESPN 1000 in Chicago and often dabbled in the blogosphere. In the fall of 2010, Sahadev focused his attention on the writing side of the business and quickly realized that was where he belonged. If not spending his free time with his wife, one-year-old son, and two Italian Greyhounds, you’ll likely find Sahadev appreciating Starlin Castro’s ability to hit, defending Adam Dunn, or watching YouTube clips of the Illini’s 2005 NCAA tourney comeback against Arizona. Follow him on Twitter @sahadevsharma.
If Anthony Rizzo fails to fulfill expectations, an excess of media attention will be partly to blame.
As one who ordinarily dislikes slack moments, I tend to plan things down to the second. It's a practice that often leaves little margin for error and sometimes results in small mishaps. Because as much as you try, you can't fully allow for externalities. One of those is the Chicago Transit Authority, not a sturdy peg on which to hang a daily calendar. The online tracker for the trains is very accurate, but you want to leave a buffer, because the CTA has its externalities as well.
The day of Anthony Rizzo's Cubs debut, I did not leave enough of a buffer. I know that it takes me about six minutes at a steady pace to walk to the Argyle Station, and the tracker told me I had eight minutes. Nevertheless, there it was pulling into the station just as I approached the entrance. I sprinted up the stairs only to find the doors sliding shut and an unforgiving train operator at the helm.
From Wrigley Field on Friday, Bradford bids goodbye to the Cubs' fragile former phenom, Kerry Wood.
Orson Welles used to say the key to playing a larger-than-life character was to give him plenty of advance billing before he actually appears on the stage or screen. Harry Lime becomes the most interesting character in The Third Man more than 50 minutes before Welles makes his dramatic entrance in the film. It was a little like that with Kerry Wood, whose ridiculous velocity, strapping build, and Texas background had him pegged as the heir to Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens before we ever saw him in Chicago.
Wood was the fourth pick of the 1995 draft, taken behind Darin Erstad, Ben Davis, and Jose Cruz Jr., and almost immediately there were problems. Less than a week after the Cubs drafted him, Mike McGilvray, his high school coach back in Grand Prairie, Texas, used him in both ends of a doubleheader in the state quarterfinals. Wood threw 145 pitches in the first game and 32 more in the nightcap. Grand Prairie won both games.
Nate wonders about an overflow effect in two-team markets and finds some surprising results.
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Bradford Doolittle wrote about the divergent directions of the Cubs and White Sox on Thursday, but how might the dire outlook for the White Sox and the hope on the horizon for the Cubs impact attendance in the Second City? See what Nate had to say on the subject in the article reproduced below, which originally ran as a "Lies, Damned Lies" column on April 12, 2006.
Theo Epstein can put an end to the Cubs' managerial merry-go-round.
Back in February, I wrote about how the Chicago Cubs had never had an iconic general manager. The dismissal of Mike Quade is an opportunity to ask a similar question of the Cubs. It’s not that they have never had a great manager—Hall of Famer Joe McCarthy got his start in the majors with Chicago, taking the team to the 1929 World Series, in the process becoming the first and last manager to get Hack Wilson focused on baseball, but McCarthy was forced out in a power struggle with Rogers Hornsby 71 years ago. That’s a lot of baseball under the bridge without a skipper putting his mark on the team in some way.
Some might point to another Hall of Fame skipper, Leo Durocher, who coached the team from 1966 to 1972, but despite the Lip’s helping the Cubs go from 50-103 in 1966 to 92-70 in 1969, he never did win anything with the Cubs, clashed with key players such as Ron Santo, and wasn’t exactly focused, wandering off on the team from time to time to deal with personal matters that somehow seemed more important than his job. Durocher is also, correctly, far more identified with the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants than he is with the Cubbies.
With the Cubs GM situation apparently coming to a resolution, we represent a piece from February on the Cubs' historic lack of a definitive executive.
I fear that today’s installment of Broadside is going to come off as an attack on Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, but that is not my intention. Rather, it's the observation that given a wait of more than a century, for the Cubs, the point is not the journey but the destination—over 100 years at sea is quite enough of a journey, thank you. And just as every team can point to their Babe Ruth or Ted Williams and say, “This is our iconic figure,” almost every organization has an executive who came along at a key moment and guided the team through a transitional period to greater heights of success, someone whose oil portrait in the office lobby bears a plaque that says, “Pathfinder.” The best the Cubs can do is hang an empty frame, or perhaps fill it with a sign: “This space for rent.”
This piece began as a look at the Cubs’ chances for this season, but as I later read back what I had written, I found that I had over a thousand words that boiled down to, “The last 102 years weren’t very good, were they?” before I even got to the 2011 team. You don’t need me to tell you that, even though there is a perverse pleasure in observing just how long it's been since the Cubs last got to celebrate a championship. The Pirates and the Royals come in for a lot of mockery, but at least you can refer to Kansas City's 1985 championship with a straight face, and bring up Bret Saberhagen, George Brett, and Dan Quisenberry as if they were contemporary humans instead of the alien subjects of 17th-century Dutch portraiture, strange, candlelit figures with ruff collars around their necks.