Here are five things Theo Epstein should know about the Chicago Cubs.
1. The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908, and Theo Epstein, like many smart baseball men before him, will have to try to understand the mentality of the Cubs' fan base: What can go wrong, will go wrong. There's never in sports history been a more tormented or beaten down fan base. And that base will look at Epstein as its white knight.
2. The Cubs organization is nearly barren of top pitching prospects. Single-A has some good-looking young pitchers, but Double-A and Triple-A appear to be void of top prospects. When injuries occurred to Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner in April, the Cubs had zero answers in their farm system.
3. Epstein should stay away from putting a timetable on winning. Cubs fans have heard about 5-year, 10-year plans, since Dallas Green took over the team in 1981. This has been a common statement by every top baseball executive, that we're going to win the World Series. That would be the wrong message to the Cubs fan base. The right thing to say is, "We're going to be a playoff-caliber team every year, and if we don't make the playoffs, that season is a failure."
4. He should do his homework on Cubs history. As much as his winning pedigree is established, he's going to need to know that center fielder Don Young dropped two balls against the Mets in Shea Stadium in 1969. Those little trivia items are huge to Cubs fans. He should get to know who the great players in Cubs history were. The fans will insist on it. Pick up a couple of George Castle books to catch up.
5. Epstein should know the Ricketts family are good people. They want to make their mark as not only great baseball people, but as good neighbors and important Chicagoans. He shouldn't dismiss the fact that president Crane Kenney is a valuable lead man for the Ricketts family business plan in Chicago, Arizona and the Dominican Republic. Don't be afraid to tell Cubs fans the team will be better right away. Rebuilding and retooling should never be part of the vernacular outside of the walls of your new office.