MIAMI -- Nobody said the Chicago Cubs' restoration project was going to have success overnight which still doesn’t make the team’s slow start any easier to watch.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein understands fan impatience with a club that started Thursday with a 3-9 record and a spot in last place in the National League Central. But his long-term vision means that perspective and not panic is his motivator right now.
“You have to view every situation, every move, through the same lenses we discussed this winter,” Epstein said from the Cubs dugout in Marlins Park on Thursday. “What’s going to help us maximize our competitiveness in 2012, and then bigger picture is how to we build a championship caliber organization? That’s going to be a longer term issue. When those two interests but up against each other we will defer for the long term.”
Deferring for the long term makes it sound like a long summer is ahead, but just because a blockbuster move isn’t around the corner doesn’t mean some changes won’t be ahead in the near future.
“There are things we can do, smaller moves that we can make and probably make over the course of this season to try and put together a club that can be more competitive,” Epstein said. “We’re also looking for the best long-term interest of the organization. You have to keep the big picture in mind sometimes.”
That big picture means that while many fans would just as soon see Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo in the lineup, Epstein preaches patience across the board.
“Those guys are continuing their development at Triple-A,” Epstein said. “There are things they are working on that they need to continue to improve. We’re also not giving up on [major league] guys after a homestand and a road trip. Guys need time to get into the rhythm of a season and show what they can do.”
When Darwin Barney hit a three-run triple with two outs in the second inning it felt like forever since the Cubs had both a multi-run inning and a clutch hit. The club is capable of delivering more, and they will get a chance to prove it.
The last thing Epstein wants to do is saddle Jackson and Rizzo with the responsibility of rescuing a struggling major league club. At least not now anyway.
“Baseball is best understood from bigger samples and from a distance sometimes,” Epstein said. “That said, no one wants to get off to this kind of start, and the lineup is not performing really well right now. But it’s a little early to be thinking about those kind of moves, specifically with your better prospects.”