How to build a championship in five years. 66 comments

If baseball is a religion to people, then Theo Epstein is the closest they are going to get to a savior.

The fans of Boston waited 86 years for a championship. They came close some seasons. They fell a million miles short in other seasons.  There was the trading Babe Ruth thing. The shame of being the last team in the major leagues to allow a black player on its roster thing (a despicable twelve seasons after Jackie Robinson). There was the Bill Buckner thing. And a whole lot of other things.

But they could never make it happen until Boston hired a twenty-eight-year old baseball savant named Theo Epstein to be its general manager, at the time the youngest general manager in baseball history.

Just two years later, in 2004, he did the impossible. He built the team that broke the Curse of the Bambino and led the Boston Red Sox to its first World Series championship since 1918.

Seven years later, the baseball gods tapped him on the shoulder once again. “Okay, smart guy, do the impossible a second time. In Chicago. With the Cubs.”

It took Epstein and his right-hand-man Jed Hoyer just five seasons, in fact, to accomplish it.

He went to work quickly and quite effectively, with a Midas touch for fleecing.

He turned Andrew Cashner into Anthony Rizzo.

He turned Ryan Dempster into Kyle Hendricks.

He turned Scott Feldman into Jake Arrieta.H

He turned Matt Garza into Justin Grimm and Carl Edwards Jr.

He turned Jeff Samardzjia into Addison Russell.

And he turned the Chicago Cubs into World Series champions, with a team that is deep and talented and primed to be elite for years to come.

And he did it in just five short years.

 In an unrelated story, 2017 begins the twelfth season of Jon Daniels as general manager of the Texas Rangers.