Cubs Future Could Take Down Turn as Jed Hoyer Replaces Theo Epstein

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As Chicago bred triple threat Common rapped, in a track on his debut album, “this was a test that was bigger than him.” The line certainly applies to the new Chicago Cubs Team President Jed Hoyer. A very intelligent and astute executive, he’s brimming with acumen, but the challenge he’s facing is monumental!

Not only does he have to succeed his professional BFF, Theo Epstein, a man that will never have to buy a drink in this town again, but he must work under an ownership group that isn’t very interested giving him much of a budget for new players.

Following in the footsteps of a now club legend like Theo is difficult; for anybody. Doing it in an era when the Ricketts family take the path of least resistance every hot stove season is impossible. Make no mistake about it, the Ricketts HAVE the money to spend on rebuilding a roster that is in dire need of a makeover.

They just don’t WANT to. Ricketts and Crane Kenney have succeeded in getting the 1060 W. Addison project complete and launching Marquee Network. They’ve shown a ton of ambition in those two arenas. In roster improvements? Not so much.

In attempting to keep the Cubs championship window open as long as possible? Definitely not.

The farm system is thin and the core four are, well, so much for worrying about being able to keep all of them…some of them wouldn’t be too coveted on the open market, should they decide to move on. So that’s what lies ahead for Jed, trying to fix a lot that’s broken, and almost certainly not being granted the requisite war chest to make it happen.

Of course, it could be worse. Hoyer has essentially been Epstein’s right hand man, and hopefully, his boss has shown him the ropes enough that he can follow in his footsteps. A few Cubs Conventions (yeah, we’re not having one of those this year, during a plague) ago, the pair came out on stage to the tune of “Guy Love” from the NBC sitcom “Scrubs” during “Off the Mound with Ryan Dempster.”

It was a hilarious moment, and really the only funny part of the show. Maybe Hoyer, 46, can pick up where Epstein left off.

“I have been so fortunate to work alongside Theo for 17 of the last 19 years,” said Hoyer in a club statement.

“I could not have had a better mentor or a more loyal and trusted friend. He has already changed two storied franchises with his passion, creativity, intellect and leadership. I have no question that the next chapters in his career will be equally impressive and impactful.”

This will be his 20th year in baseball and 10th with the Cubs. But of course today is also about honoring Epstein as he exits stage left.

He literally “did the thing.” He ended the World Series drought, plain and simple. For that alone he is probably Cubs Mt. Rushmore. Seriously; it’s deserved.

After the first three, rather brutal seasons under his watched, the team won 505 regular season games, second-most in the N.L. and third-most in the majors behind only the Dodgers (528) and Astros (510). The Cubs are one of just four clubs to make at least five postseason appearances in the last six seasons, joining the Dodgers, Yankees and Astros.

Other than 2015 and 2016, there wasn’t much to get excited about in those postseason appearances, but hey, remember when reaching the postseason was an often novel, sometimes alien concept?

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Typically, people born on third base (or in Epstein’s case rounded third and just feet from home plate) are not easily likable. That’s because many of them just don’t develop as humans and/or coast through life with minimal ambition.

Theo Epstein is the polar opposite- he used his advantages to strive and achieve. He personifies ambitions and achievement, and that trend will continue for him in whatever is next (probably owning a team at some level?).

For now, he’s a Chicago local deity. Epstein, 46, is one of just five executives all-time to lead multiple organizations to World Series titles. He is just the fourth to do so in both leagues, joining Hall of Famers Pat Gillick and John Schuerholz as well as Dave Dombrowski.

For the rest of my life, I will cherish having been part of the great Chicago Cubs organization during this historic period,” said Epstein via club statement.

“All of the things that have made this experience so special — the fans, the players, the managers and coaches, ownership, my front office colleagues, the uniqueness of the Wrigley experience, the history — make it so tough to leave the Cubs. But I believe this is the right decision for me even if it’s a difficult one. And now is the right time rather than a year from now.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports IllustratedChicago Tribune and SB NationFollow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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