If the Boston Red Sox allow their general manager, Theo Epstein interview for the Cubs position, Tom Ricketts and the rest of the Cubs organization will have a lot of selling to do. The hardest thing for Ricketts will be to convince Theo that the Cubs position is a great opportunity. With back to back seasons under .500, why would Epstein want to leave Boston?
The first issue Ricketts will have to address is the payroll. In 2011, the Cubs had a $131 million payroll, down $14 million from 2010. If the team does not bring back Aramis Ramirez orCarlos Pena — and with the expiring contracts of Carlos Silva, Kosuke Fukudome and John Grabow — it will dump off almost $53 million. That will bring the Cubs’ commitment for 2012 to $78 million. That flexibility is a selling point for Epstein or for anyone else who interviews.
Besides top name free agents, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, and C.J Wilson, the free agency market it rather weak. The Cubs will then have to turn to international players to try to improve the team.
After 2012 another $32 million will come off the books from the contracts of Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.
Another hole the future general manager will have to fill is the bad pitching staff. Besides Matt Garza, the Cubs do not have any other consistent starter. A lot of minor league pitching prospects have been plagued by injuries or just have not turned out good.
Another selling point for the Cubs to use to convince Epstein is the young nucleus. With a rising star in Starlin Castro, Epstein will already have the one main player to build his team around. Also, the Cubs expect their top prospect, Brett Jackson, to be in the major leagues at the start of the 2012 season. In the minor league system, the Cubs have a few catching prospect who have potential and a very versatile play in Matt Szczur. And finally, Josh Vitters who began to produce last season in Tennessee(AA).
The Cubs have a storied franchise and ballpark to offer, as well as a new owner who appears to want a winner on the field while having an eye for a progressive business plan as well.
The next step is Boston’s. We should know in the next 24 hours if Epstein will be allowed to interview. The Cubs’ fan base is in need of some hope for the future, brining in a GM like Epstein who won two world championships is a nice selling point when the team is looking for a renewal on season ticket packages.