(670 The Score) Amid the uncertainty of president of baseball operations Theo Epstein’s future with the Cubs, chairman Tom Ricketts indicated it’s business as usual for Epstein and the team moving forward.
Epstein is under contract through the 2021 season. Epstein expects to remain with the Cubs through 2021, he said Monday, two days after an NBC Sports Chicago report had raised the possibility that he could exit the organization before his contract ends. Ricketts appears to have the same frame of mind about the situation.
“I don’t think anything has changed from the perspective of what his responsibilities are,” Ricketts told Marquee Sports Network. “He will continue to be the president of baseball operations and do the right things for the best interest of the ballclub through the end of his contract.”
Ricketts praised the work of Epstein, who joined the organization in October 2011. The Cubs won the World Series in 2016 and have made the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. They have also won three NL Central crowns in Epstein’s tenure, including this past season in going 34-26. The Cubs were then eliminated by the Marlins in the wild-card round.
Ricketts called Epstein’s work “remarkable.”
“The big picture is nobody refers to the Chicago Cubs as lovable losers anymore,” Ricketts told the Marquee Sports Network. “The expectations of our fan base have changed. When we win a division and people are not happy about that, they now are focused on the fact we didn’t go further in the playoffs. Ten years ago they were just happy to make the playoffs. So his legacy is about winning and really just changing our image to a team that is not destined to lose but a team destined to win.”
At the time of his hiring, Epstein spoke of the need for leadership to change atop a baseball operations department every 10 years – for the benefit of a top executive and the team. In comments earlier Monday, Epstein stood by that belief, an indication he could finish his contract and move on after that.
"Look, I’ve been transparent about my feeling that after a certain period of time, there can be real benefit both for an individual leader and for the organization for change," Epstein said. "I’ve not backed away (from that thought). I think I mentioned it my first day as a Cub and again when I signed my second contract. I’m not going to run away from those feelings, but I also am as invested in the Chicago Cubs as our leader in baseball operations today as I was at any point in the last nine years. I woke up this morning thinking about how we can improve for next year and position ourselves for long-term success. But given the things I’m on record with about the benefits of change at a certain point, it just means that you have to be smart in discussing the timing and nature of a transition. Because it’s inevitable at some point.”