The Washington Post

Theo Epstein says farewell to Boston, tells Chicago ‘baseball is best ... when you win’ (updated)


Hello, Chicago. (Jeff Chiu / AP)

The Chicago Cubs rolled out the welcome mat and put up a sign that said, “Cubs Welcome Theo Epstein” (because “Please Reverse Our Curse” seemed sad) as they introduced their new president of baseball operations today.

“Baseball is best of all when you win. That’s why I’m here today,” Epstein said, promising to rebuild the farm system, at a press conference this morning. “We won’t rest until there is a steady stream of talent [from the minor leagues].

“We’re going to have to grind our way to the top.”

The Cubs were given permission by Major League Baseball to introduce Epstein, the 37-year-old tasked with ending the Cubs’ World Series drought, as their new hire today because it’s an off-day in the World Series.

“I've waited a few weeks to say this, but it truly feels great to be a Cub today,” Epstein said, via the Chicago Tribune.

First on Epstein’s agenda? Deciding whether to retain Mike Quade, who has a year left on a two-year contract to manage the team. “We have plans to meet in person sometime over the next week,” Epstein said via The Associated Press. “I’d like to hear his vision for the organization. ... We’ll get together as a group and decide where to go from there.”

Filed at 10:29 a.m.

Theo Epstein has said his goodbyes to Boston, helping the sagging newspaper industry in the process. He took out an ad in the Boston Globe over the weekend (“10 Years. Two Championships. Countless Memories. Infinite Thanks”) and today has an op-ed piece in the Globe explaining his decision to leave to become the Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations.

For the record, Epstein wrote: “The reason I am leaving has nothing to do with power, pressure, money, or relationships. It has nothing to do with September, either.”

It has everything to do with growing older and Bill Walsh, the legendary football coach who believed that a change of scenery every 10 years or so is a good thing. Epstein, who has been the Boston Red Sox’ general manager for 10 years, was thinking of leaving anyway when his contract expired after the 2012 season.

“This summer, when ownership and I first discussed [assistant general manager] Ben [Cherington] as my successor, the Red Sox were stable, thriving, and talented enough in the big leagues and in the farm system to compete as one of the best clubs in baseball this year and for many years to come.”

The departure of manager Terry Francona and the Red Sox’ historic collapse did accelerate his timetable.

“Knowing my time as the general manager was drawing to an end, I had a decision to make: stay one more year and do my best to conduct the manager's search under less than ideal circumstances, or recommend the succession plan, allow Ben to run the search process, and join the Cubs. I wrestled with leaving during a time when criticism, deserved and otherwise, surrounded the organization. But Walsh's words kept popping into my head, and I recalled how important it was for me as a relatively new general manager to bond with Terry Francona during the interview process back in 2003.

“It was very difficult deciding to leave the place where I grew up, where I met my wife, where my son was born, where my family and closest friends live, and where I help run a charitable foundation. And it was equally hard to part with the organization and the people, including [owners] John [Henry], Tom [Werner], and [president and CEO] Larry [Lucchino], who entrusted me with this role at such a young age and supported me along the way. But it was the right thing to do.”

Epstein will be introduced at a Cubs press conference this morning.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.

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