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Theo Epstein is promising a better Cubs team. It will just take time.
Epstein was introduced Tuesday as the new president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, who hope he can work the same magic for the championship-starved team as he did for the Boston Red Sox.
"To me, baseball is better with tradition, baseball is better with history, baseball is better with fans who care, baseball is better in ballparks like this, baseball is better during the day. And baseball is, best of all, when you win," Epstein said during a packed Wrigley Field news conference.
"I firmly believe that we can preserve the things that make the Cubs so special and over time build a consistent winner, a team that will be playing baseball in October consistently and a team that will ultimately win the World Series."
The 37-year-old Epstein left the Red Sox with a year left on his contract as general manager. The Cubs finally made the announcement Friday night, but held off on the news conference until Tuesday, a travel day for the World Series.
Still to be determined is compensation from the Cubs to the Red Sox for plucking Epstein away. With that still pending, the focus was squarely on Epstein, with nearly 100 media members attending his inaugural news conference and "Cubs Welcome Theo Epstein" splashed across the famous Wrigley Field marquee at the corner of Clark and Addison on Tuesday morning.
The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and one of Epstein's first decisions will be deciding the future of manager Mike Quade, who has a year left on his two-year deal.
"We have plans to meet in person sometime over the next week," Epstein said. "I'd like to hear his vision for the organization. ... We'll get together as a group and decide where to go from there."
Various reports say the Cubs aren't through bringing in front office staff from other teams and San Diego's GM Jed Hoyer and Padres assistant Jason McLeod could be reunited with Epstein in Chicago. The three worked together in Boston and Hoyer could be the Cubs' new GM.
Epstein said the Cubs must build a foundation and a solid minor league system.
"We won't rest until there is a steady stream of talent" coming to Wrigley Field from the minors," he said. "We're going to have to grind our way to the top."
The Cubs haven't been in the World Series since 1945 and haven't won it all in 103 years. With Epstein at the helm, the Red Sox ended an 86-year drought by winning the Series in 2004 and followed that up with another title three years later.
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.
"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.
"I simply cannot imagine a better person for this job that Theo Epstein."
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. This season it was Carl Crawford who didn't meet expectations after signing a big contract.
Epstein has a history of smart draft moves (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz) and he has spent freely. His tenure in Boston ended poorly when the Red Sox collapsed in September and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.