Epstein, Cubs preparing for draft
Theo Epstein’s background in player development was one reason
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts sought him out when he was searching for
someone to run his team last year.
Now Epstein gets his first chance to prove his worth in that
The Cubs have the No. 6 pick in their first amateur draft since
Epstein became president of baseball operations in October, and the
former Red Sox general manager said they have narrowed the pool for
that first selection to about 10 players.
”It’s probably the most important thing that we’re doing right
now, to be honest, and so therefore it takes up the vast majority
of our time,” Epstein said before the Cubs hosted the Atlanta
Braves on Tuesday. ”The draft day is the most important day of the
year for every organization.
”It’s a year-long process and right now we’re right in the
sweet spot, finishing up evaluations, going back and getting final
looks and then we’ll get together and dissect all the
Epstein talked extensively about player development after he
joined the Cubs, so there’s pressure on him to come away with a
bumper group of prospects from the June 4-6 draft. He played a role
in drafting Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz while
he was with the Red Sox.
This is also the first amateur draft since the players and
owners reached a new bargaining agreement that includes luxury
taxes on the draft and the ability to trade some selections.
Epstein said the new rules are definitely part of their
preparations, but he didn’t want to get into specifics.
”I think every team is setting aside some time to think through
how the draft might play differently now,” he said. ”It affects
how we approach signability, signability information, how we
allocate our resources in terms of who we’ll scout and how often,
that type of thing.
”That’s the same for all 30 clubs so it’s a level playing
field, just go do our best.”
The Cubs got off to a rough start this season, dropping 11 of
their first 14 games, but they have played better of late. They won
two of three in a weekend series against NL West-leading Los
Angeles, then beat Atlanta 5-1 on Monday night in the opener of a
”I think the effort’s been there all year,” Epstein said.
”We’ve been playing hard and trying to play the game the right
way. It’s hard to see sometimes when you’re losing close games and
when breaks are going against you like they were early. I think
everyone can appreciate it when the results come with it as they
have lately, so it’s been really nice to see.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap