<
>

Epstein anticipates patience with Cubs fans

Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Monday that he believes the Cubs fan base will be patient with a plan to improve the organization, even if it takes a little longer than expected.

"Every organization has its own culture," Epstein said on MLB Network's coverage of the Winter Meetings. "It's amazing how it evolves in 30 different places.

"I think the thing with the Cubs is their fans are ready. It's not a market where they're looking to tear the players down. It's not a market where they're cynical by default. I think they're looking for the team to do some things. They want to believe in the players. They support the guys who go out there every day. I just think it's a place that's ready for a plan. It might take maybe a little longer than people think, but I think they're ready to support an organization and players that will work real hard to do it the right way."

Epstein stressed the importance of improving the Cubs "the right way," starting with player development.

He also praised new manager Dale Sveum.

"Dale's a great baseball guy," Epstein said. "I think the thing that stands out to me about Dale is he's not easy on players. He's not an enabler. He's not someone who's afraid to talk to players.

"He's going to tell it like it is to players. Ask a lot out of them. Bring them out there for early work, challenge them, even established big leaguers to raise their play, improve their weaknesses. And yet players don't back away from him. They end up respecting him because of that, and they end up admiring him, and they end up loving him. They have great relationships."