It was back in October of 2011 when the Chicago Cubs introduced Theo Epstein as the team’s new President of Baseball Operations. It is well documented that Epstein came to Chicago after his impressive run with the Boston Red Sox. As the General Manager of the Sox, he won two World Series Championships, help end the “Curse of the Bambino,” and arguably helped shape the Red Sox Nation culture into what it is today. In Chicago, the Cubs and their fans hope that one day Epstein can help end their long overdue World Series drought as well. During this process in Chicago, Epstein has certainly shaped it with his Boston flare along the way.
Since Epstein took control in 2011, there have been nearly two dozen moves that have ties to Boston along the way. Beginning with his right hand men, General Manager Jed Hoyer and Senior Vice President Jason McLeod, who both worked with Epstein in Boston. The trio has now teamed up again in Chicago to rebuild the Cubs from the ground up, and have assembled the top minor league system in baseball.
On the field, it started with a January 6th, 2012 trade that brought Anthony Rizzo to the North side by way of Hoyer’s San Diego roots. Rizzo was originally a Red Sox prospect before being moved to San Diego. After Epstein promised Rizzo that they would work together again, he wasted little time on the job before acquiring the first baseman from the Padres. It really was the first significant move Epstein made with the Cubs, and in just a few short seasons, Rizzo is now the face and cornerstone of the Cubs.
The first managerial hire made by Epstein was with Dale Sveum, who was a coach on the 2004 Red Sox team. Former Red Sox Eric Hinske has been brought in as a coach the last few seasons as well. Not stopping there, Ryan Dempster, Manny Ramirez, and most recently Kevin Youkilis have all been brought in to serve as special assistants in the front office for Epstein.
Other players along the way either traded for, signed, or claimed off of waivers that have traveled from Boston to Chicago include: Michael Bowden, Ryan Kalish, Justin Germano, Felix Doubront, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Bard, Ryan Lavarnway, Lars Anderson, and David Ross. But by far, the list is highlighted by the free agent signing of ace pitcher Jon Lester. The signing of Lester in Chicago has several deep impactful connections with Epstein, Rizzo, and others. But among them all, Epstein saw first hand Lester’s ability to be an ace, a leader, and a guy who can win a championship. Something that he hopes can be replicated in the Windy City in the not so distant future.
The path from Boston to Chicago is not exactly the Freedom Trail, but it is a path of great significance for this current Cubs team. If and when the Cubs win a World Series and end their drought, it will certainly have a Boston feel at the heart of the success. Epstein will certainly look toward his first move of getting Rizzo, and the highlighted signing of Lester as the backbones of this roster. Even the four year plan to renovate Wrigley Field will have a Fenway Park look and feel to it as well when completed. Epstein has already conquered one curse, and it is realistic that he is closing in on another. If and when the Cubs do win a championship, might they also ride through the streets of Chicago celebrating on duck boats? Why not.