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2012 MLB Draft Signing Bonus: Orioles Bolster Pitching Depth with Kevin Gausman

The Baltimore Orioles bolstered their pitching depth by signing first round pick Kevin Gausman, who will receive a $4.32 million signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Keith Law (via Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun).

Gausman is not only a talented pitcher, but a high-character kid as well. He was very excited to sign with the Orioles, and shared his enthusiasm via his Twitter account.

Gausman, who played college baseball at LSU, has a phenomenal fastball and will be able to overpower hitters with the pitch, while mixing in some impressive off-speed pitches that are still developing.

Baltimore won’t be able to compete in a division that is as competitive as the AL East until some of their young pitchers like Gausman develop into quality big league starters.

So far this season, the Orioles are 19th in the majors in ERA, 21st in strikeouts, and 16th in batting average against.

The Orioles are showing signs of improvement and are headed in the right direction, but more work needs to be done.

If Gausman reaches his full potential, he will be a superstar player who could be a Cy Young candidate throughout his career. With his work ethic and high level of talent, there’s no reason why he can’t be a star player in the future.

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2012 MLB Mock Draft: Mike Zunino and Greatest Value Picks in First Round

The 2012 MLB Draft will be an opportunity for every team to find a player that can help them reach their goals next season.

This draft class is deep with quality starting pitchers, and since many teams are looking for a future ace to build their staff around, this could be an important draft for several teams in the top 10.

Let’s look at a fresh first-round MLB mock draft.


1. Houston Astros (56-106): Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford 

The Houston Astros need to make this No. 1 pick count, and must take a starting pitcher such as Mark Appel, who can be the cornerstone of their rotation.


2. Minnesota Twins (63-99): Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County High School (Ga.)

An outfielder with the ability to hit for average and dominate the basepaths would be ideal for the struggling Twins.


3. Seattle Mariners (67-95): Mike Zunino, C, Florida 

The catcher position is a real issue for the Seattle Mariners, and Zunino is the clear-cut choice for them at pick three.

The Gators star was one of the best offensive catchers in the NCAA this season, and he is arguably the top prospect in this draft.

If he went first overall, I wouldn’t be surprised. He has All-Star potential and will be a Rookie of the Year candidate when he finally arrives to the big leagues.


4. Baltimore Orioles (69-93): Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU 

For the Baltimore Orioles to compete in an ultra-competitive AL East division, they must bolster their starting pitching.


5. Kansas City Royals (71-91): Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Calif.)

The Royals have a lot of needs, and one of them is a power pitcher who can strike hitters out in the big leagues. Giolito will be a future star.


6. Chicago Cubs (71-91): Albert Almora, OF, Marion Christian Academy (Fla.)

The Chicago Cubs need pitching, but several top starters will likely be off the board at pick six. They should go with an outfielder if an elite pitching prospect isn’t on the board.


7. San Diego Padres (71-91): Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy

The Padres haven’t had a top-tier MLB shortstop in quite some time. Correa has the ability to be a phenomenal defensive player at the big league level.


8. Pittsburgh Pirates (72-90): Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State 

The Pirates are another team needing speed and defense at the shortstop position. The Arizona State star is one of the better prospects from the PAC-12 conference.


9. Miami Marlins (72-90): Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.) 

The Miami Marlins really need a left-handed starter that can add some versatility to a rotation that already has some quality young arms.


10. Colorado Rockies (73-89): Kyle Zimmer, RHP, San Francisco 

Adding a fundamentally strong pitcher like Kyle Zimmer would be an ideal pick for the Colorado Rockies.


11. Oakland Athletics (74-88): Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (La.)

The Athletics would love to add a shortstop that can hit well consistently and give the infield defense tremendous range.


12. New York Mets (77-85): Courtney Hawkins, RF, Carroll HS (Texas)

The New York Mets have many areas of weakness, and one of those is a right fielder that can hit. Courtney Hawkins has a lot of potential and would benefit by playing in Citi Field because of the large outfield.


13. Chicago White Sox (79-83): Richie Shaffer, 3B, Clemson

The White Sox need more offense from the hot corner, which makes ACC star Richie Shaffer a great fit for Chicago.

Shaffer has the ability to hit for power and also plays steady defense at third base. He also has an impressive ability to get on base, which is evidenced by his walks numbers.

The White Sox would be getting a lot of value with Shaffer at pick 13.


14. Cincinnati Reds (79-83): Marcus Stroman, RHP, Duke

Cincinnati Reds need another right-handed starter who has the potential to be dominating. Pitching will be the reason they make or miss the playoffs over the next few years.


15. Cleveland Indians (80-82): Andrew Heaney, LHP, Oklahoma State

Andrew Heaney could be the left-handed ace the Cleveland Indians haven’t had in their starting rotation since C.C. Sabathia.


16. Washington Nationals (80-81): Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State 

The Washington Nationals would be smart to add a right-handed pitcher like Chris Stratton in case Stephen Strasburg has further injury problems.


17. Toronto Blue Jays (81-81): Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M  

The Toronto Blue Jays should continue to rebuild their pitching staff since manager John Farrell does a tremendous job developing young starters.


18. Los Angeles Dodgers (82-79): Lance McCullers, RHP, Jesuit HS (Fla.)

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a strong enough lineup to score runs, so adding some depth to in their starting rotation would be a smart idea.


19. St. Louis Cardinals (90-72): Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon HS (Ohio)

The Cardinals need to add another starter since injury problems have taken their toll on the team’s staff over the past few seasons. Smoral will be a reliable left-handed starter for many years.


20. San Francisco Giants (86-76): Joey Gallo, 3B/RHP, Bishop Gorman HS (Nev.) 

Joey Gallo’s versatility is quite impressive, and his strong work ethic and all-around skills would be a big boost to the San Francisco Giants.


21. Atlanta Braves (89-73): D.J. Davis, OF, Stone HS (Miss.)

The Braves need an outfielder who can give the team offense and strong defense. With his ability to play anywhere in the outfield, D.J. Davis would be a good pick for Atlanta.


22. Toronto Blue Jays (81-81): Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo HS (Calif.)

The Blue Jays might take a starter with their initial first-round pick, but even if they do, taking another one later in the first round wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Hunter Virant is an athletic left-handed starter with a strong fastball. The Blue Jays are steadily improving but still lack a true ace in their staff.

Virant still has a ton of room for improvement in his already impressive pitching ability. He needs to polish a few pitches, but his potential is quite high.


23. St. Louis Cardinals (90-72): Nolan Fontana, SS, Florida 

The Cardinals really need a shortstop for the future, which makes Florida Gators star Nolan Fontana a great fit in St. Louis.


24. Boston Red Sox (90-72): Carson Kelly, 3B, Westview HS (Ore.) 

Will Middlebrooks looks like a promising young third baseman that will eventually take over for Kevin Youkilis, but the Red Sox’s depth at third in the minor leagues is still weak.


25. Tampa Bay Rays (91-71): Clint Coulter, C, Union HS (Wash.)

Clint Coulter has the potential to be the All-Star catcher that the Tampa Bay Rays haven’t had throughout their history. It’s certainly a position of need in their organization.


26. Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68): Pierce Johnson, RHP, Missouri State

The Diamondbacks’ success last year and this year has been because of their pitching, and they should add to their rotation depth by drafting reliable starter Pierce Johnson.


27. Milwaukee Brewers (96-66): Stephen Piscotty, 3B, Stanford

The Milwaukee Brewers need another power-hitting corner infielder to help make up for the loss of Prince Fielder.


28. Milwaukee Brewers (96-66): Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood HS (Ga.)  

The Brewers will use their second first-round pick on a pitcher to strengthen their rotation. Lucas Sims could be a No. 2 or 3 starter in four to five years.


29. Texas Rangers (96-66): Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Carrabus HS (N.C.)

The Rangers don’t need to address many weaknesses, but adding a strong hitting third baseman would be a smart idea.


30. New York Yankees (97-65): Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS (Fla.)

Future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter has to retire at some point in the near future, so the New York Yankees will need to address the shortstop position in this draft.


31. Boston Red Sox (90-72): Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty HS (Fla.)

Zach Eflin would be a nice addition to the Red Sox organization, which needs more young starters.

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Josh Hamilton: Why Texas Rangers Stud Will Flame out When Pressure Heats Up

Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton is having a phenomenal season thus far and has been the front-runner for the AL MVP the entire year, but when the pressure heats up, he will be far less productive than he is right now.

Hamilton has been a great first-half player his entire career, but his second-half performances haven’t always been that great. Anyone who has owned him in fantasy baseball over the last few years will understand that.

He is, of course, in a contract year, which could be one explanation for his recent dominance. Playing for a contract is a huge motivator, but it also puts a lot of pressure on you to do well. The longer Hamilton goes without a new contract, the more pressure will be on him to perform.

The pressure to perform and try to do too much will likely affect Hamilton at some point, and the result could be him struggling at the plate.

Hamilton could also face immense pressure from the media if he keeps up his chase for the Triple Crown. Not since Boston Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 has someone won the American League Triple Crown.

Right now, Hamilton has a nice lead in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. If he starts to make a real run at this achievement, he will be asked questions about it all the time, and like many before him, he will struggle against the Triple Crown pressure.

Then there’s the playoffs, where Hamilton has not performed well in during his two career postseasons. His career batting average in the playoffs is .234, and he has 21 strikeouts in 33 games.

Since the Rangers have lost the last two World Series, and have another great shot to get back there this season, Hamilton will be expected to dominate in the playoffs just as he does in the regular season.

This will be a major challenge for him because if he fails in the playoffs again, that could significantly affect the amount of money and number of teams interested in him this winter.

Hamilton is a fantastic player, but he will eventually cool down from his great start and face the pressure of winning the Triple Crown, earning the largest contract possible and leading the Rangers to the World Series title.

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2012 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft: Robinson Cano and More Infield Studs

Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is one of baseball’s best players, but he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. 

Cano is one of several infielders who you should consider with your first-round pick in your fantasy baseball draft.

Let’s look at a complete first-round mock draft to use as a guide for your draft.


1) Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels

Pujols is still the best player in the game, and even though his 2011 season was one of the weakest of his career, it was still fantastic by normal standards.

In the American League, Pujols will dominate in a talented Angels lineup against some very weak AL West teams.

There’s no reason to pass on Pujols with the top overall pick.


2) Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, Detroit Tigers

Cabrera is pretty close to Pujols in fantasy value because he’s an absolute beast at the plate. He will hit over 30 home runs, drive in over 120 runs and have a high batting average.

In a loaded Tigers lineup that now includes Prince Fielder, expect Cabrera to have another monster season in Detroit.


3) Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays slugger has been the best home run hitter in baseball over the last two seasons, and while he may not reach 50 again, he will certainly eclipse the 40 mark.

Bautista has been able to dominate in a tough AL East division without a ton of protection in his Toronto lineup, which really proves how talented he is.

You can’t go wrong taking Bautista anywhere in the first round, even No. 1 overall.


4) Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies

Troy Tulowitzki is the best hitting shortstop in baseball and will carry a talented Rockies lineup throughout the season.

The key for Tulowitzki is health, but that doesn’t seem to be a major issue heading into 2012. The Rockies infielder will be a fantasy stud in all categories if healthy.


5) Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees

There’s no question that Yankees star Robinson Cano is the best 2B in all of baseball, and his hitting ability is amazing for someone at his position.

Cano plays in a very hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, and there’s no reason he can’t break the 30-HR mark, drive in over 100 runs and bat over .300 this season.


6) Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Kemp is a superstar player and will build on his MVP-caliber season of 2011 this year. Kemp is an all-around fantasy stud with his ability to hit for average and power consistently.

Kemp even had 40 steals last year. There’s nothing he can’t do, which makes him one of the safest first-round picks you can make.


7) Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury had an MVP-level season last year, with over 30 home runs and more than 100 RBIs and runs. Ellsbury is also one of the best base stealers in baseball.

If he remains healthy, which I don’t foresee him having any issues doing, then Ellsbury will have another great season with similar power numbers. His stolen base total should be even higher and could reach the 50-base mark.

Ellsbury is a great all-around fantasy star who will give you important stolen bases.


8) Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit Tigers

Justin Verlander is one of the most reliable pitchers because he is always going to give you around 30 starts and pitch a ton of innings each game. 

Verlander was the MVP and Cy Young Award winner in the AL last season and should certainly reach the 20-win mark again this season.

With a great chance to have a sub-3.00 ERA and over 200 strikeouts, Verlander is the safest first-round pick of all pitchers.


9) Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

Joey Votto is one of the best power hitters in baseball and plays on a quality Reds team that doesn’t play in a very challenging NL Central division.

There’s a lot of quality first basemen to choose from, but few of them are as reliable as Votto is with his bat.


10) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Boston Red Sox

Adrian Gonzalez had a very good season last year but didn’t always look comfortable at the plate in his first season playing in a big-time baseball market.

Gonzalez had 27 home runs last season but should easily hit over 30 this season. The Red Sox slugger will also drive in over 100 runs and dominate Fenway Park, which is arguably the best hitters park in baseball.


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Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy: Speed Demons Guaranteed to Rack Up Stolen Bases

No matter the scoring style your fantasy baseball league uses, it is so important to find players who can steal bases consistently.

Steals are not easy to accumulate, and many players rarely attempt to steal bases at all. Finding guys who not only can steal bases but who attempt to steal often is hard. 

Let’s look at three speed demons who will help your team rack up stolen bases and gain an advantage over your league rivals.


Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox outfielder has been one of baseball’s fastest players since he arrived to the big leagues in 2007, but the problem was that he didn’t get on base consistently.

Last year, Ellsbury had a career year and batted .321 while in the leadoff spot a lot of the time. Ellsbury proved he could stay healthy last season and comes into 2012 in good health.

Ellsbury stole 39 bases last season, but he could easily reach 50 this season for the Red Sox. In his three healthiest seasons, he has 159 total steals.


Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves

The Braves outfielder is one of the most consistent base stealers in the game and will once again be a leader in that category this season.

Bourn had 61 steals last year between the Houston Astros and the Braves, tying a career high. There’s no reason why he won’t rack up at least 50 steals again this season.

Bourn is always aggressive on the base baths and is one of the hardest runners to throw out with his speed and base-running awareness. 

He also batted an impressive .294 last season, so he does get on base consistently. 


Jose Reyes, Miami Marlins

The Marlins shortstop used to be one of the most exciting players in the game, but injuries derailed some of the potential he had with the New York Mets.

However, Reyes comes into 2012 healthy and on a new team with the Miami Marlins. Reyes played in just 126 games last year, but he still managed to steal 39 bases for the Mets.

In an improved Marlins lineup, Reyes should reach 45 bases if he stays healthy. His speed and base-running ability are still at an elite level.


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Fantasy Baseball Rankings 2012: 3 Starting Pitchers You Can’t Live Without

Having a few star pitchers leading the rotation of your fantasy baseball team is a recipe for success whether your league uses a rotisserie or points style scoring system.

While it’s smart to draft a star pitcher like Roy Halladay with your first or second-round pick, finding reliable starters in the later rounds that you can depend on to be consistent throughout the season is key for building a successful team.

Let’s look at three starters you cannot live without.


James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays

James Shields is one of the more underrated pitches in baseball and is about as reliable as they come. Shields was one of the leaders in quality starts last season, while also striking out 225 batters.

His 2.85 ERA was remarkable and he’s also a lock to pitch at least five innings in just about any start. I wouldn’t expect Shields to have the same type of season he did last year, but he remains a great player to select in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.


Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

Don’t be alarmed by Jon Lester’s disappointing season last year for the Boston Red Sox, or the issues of the team’s entire staff that became a major problem during their September collapse.

Lester will once again be close to 200 strikeouts and have an ERA between 3.00 and 3.50. Lester is also a lock for at least 15 wins and has the potential to reach 20 if he gets enough run support.

Lester is a consistent starter who will pitch a lot of innings and help you in many state categories for your fantasy team.


Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers

Playing in a National League Central Division with some weak lineups, Milwaukee Brewers star Zack Greinke will have a bounce back season after injuries damaged his debut year with the team.

Greinke will be a lock for 15 wins and a solid ERA if he’s healthy throughout the season. If he could achieve a 16-6 record with 201 strikeouts last season despite battling injuries, expect Greinke to return to his Cy Young form of 2009 when healthy this year.

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Roy Oswalt and St. Louis Cardinals Reportedly Agree to Contract

The St. Louis Cardinals are poised to strengthen their starting rotation by signing veteran free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. The 34-year-old right-handed pitcher is reportedly close to a deal with the 2011 World Series Champions.

Update: Saturday, January 28 at 2:25 p.m. EST

According to, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has denied reports that say his team is close to a deal with free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt.

Reached by email, Mozeliak wrote that reports were “not true,” but did not elaborate. Another club official indicated that no transactions seemed to be imminent for the Cardinals.

Update: Saturday, January 28 at 12:10 p.m. EST

According to CBS Sports, Oswalt turned down a big contract offer from the Detroit Tigers, and has decided to focus on signing with a Southern team. The offer from the Tigers was reportedly one year at $10 million. Oswalt doesn’t need the money at this stage of his career, and would be best served joining a contender in a place he’s comfortable living in.

Update: Saturday, January 28 at 9:10 a.m. EST

ESPN Boston is reporting that Roy Oswalt is close to a contract agreement with the Cardinals, but the deal is not done yet.

Free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt has elected to remain in the National League and is likely to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals “soon,” a major league source said late Friday night.

Presumably, any agreement would be pending a physical for Oswalt, who has a history of back problems.

“It’s not yet 100 percent,” the source said.


Free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt has reportedly agreed to a contract with the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, a source told Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston.

Oswalt, 34, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2010 season from the Houston Astros, and went 9-10 last season with a 3.69 ERA for the NL East champs.


What Does This Mean?

This is an excellent signing for the Cardinals, who lost superstar first baseman Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels through free agency earlier this offseason.

Oswalt is not the elite starting pitcher he used to be, but he is more than capable of performing well in the NL Central division, which doesn’t have any dominating lineups other than the Milwaukee Brewers.

With starter Adam Wainwright missing all of last season with an elbow injury, Oswalt adds more depth to the Cardinals rotation. You can never have enough pitching, and the Cardinals were wise to target Oswalt to strengthen their rotation.

St. Louis will hope that Oswalt, who has a history of back problems, can be healthy for the entire 2012 season. He started 23 games last season for the Phillies.


What’s Next?

The Phillies still have good depth in their starting rotation following Oswalt’s departure. Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are three of the better pitchers in baseball, but Philly would be smart to sign some low-cost, low-risk starters before spring training to battle for Oswalt’s place in the rotation.

This deal also affects the Boston Red Sox, who reportedly offered Oswalt a contract in an effort to bolster their rotation. The poor play of starters Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey were the primary reason Boston collapsed in September and missed the playoffs.

ESPN Boston has reported that the Red Sox are likely reengaged in trade talks with the Chicago White Sox regarding starter Gavin Floyd.

Oswalt was one of the last notable starting pitchers available on the free-agent market, which means teams looking to add quality starters before spring training will have to do so via trade.


Nicholas Goss is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, follow him on Twitter.

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World Series 2011: Game 3 a Must-Win for St. Louis Cardinals on the Road

The St. Louis Cardinals were unable to take both games at home to start the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers, making Game 3 on Saturday night a must-win for the Cardinals on the road.

Since the series will switch to an American League park, the designated hitter is play, which gives the already dangerous Rangers lineup another quality bat to use.

After losing the first game by just one run, the Rangers survived Game 2 by the score of 2-1, and took home-field advantage with them to Texas.

The Cardinals have to win Game 3 because falling behind 2-1 with two more games to play in Texas would be tough to come back from, especially since the Cardinals have just one ace who can dominate a game in Chris Carpenter.

The scary thing for the Cardinals is the Rangers offense has yet to awaken, and playing in their hitter-friendly home ballpark might be exactly what they need to get their struggling bats fired up.

The Cardinals can win a close game, but it’s unlikely they can survive a slug-fest for three games in Arlington.

For the 14th time in 107 World Series, the first two games were decided by just one run. It’s also the fourth time in the last 32 years that this feat has happened.

History shows us that most of time when a World Series begins with two really close games, the series will likely go six or seven games total.

However, the Cardinals don’t have the firepower or the dominant pitching to survive any six- to 10-run games. They have done it a few times in these playoffs, but it’s unlikely they can contain a very talented lineup like Texas top to bottom to just a few runs per game much longer.

The Rangers’ bats are going to break out at some point, so the Cardinals need to win Game 3 to put the pressure on Texas and put some fear and panic into their minds.

One of the best ways to get a good lineup off of its game is to have them pressing and trying to hit a home run every at bat because they are down in the series and feel like they need to make up ground in one swing.

The Cardinals can really put the Rangers in a tough position tonight with a win, and in the process, give themselves lots of confidence to wrap things up in Texas or possibly go back to St. Louis up 3-2, with two shots to win the title at home.


Nicholas Goss is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for the latest sports news and updates.  

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Chicago Cubs To Hold Theo Epstein Press Conference Tuesday

The Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox both announced on Friday that Theo Epstein will resign as a member of the Boston staff and finally join Chicago as their new President of Baseball Operations, with a press conference set for Tuesday out of respect for the World Series.

The Cubs will reportedly go after San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer for their general manager position. Hoyer worked with Epstein in Boston as the assistant GM before leaving for the Padres.

Boston will hold a press conference Tuesday as well, and will announce Epstein’s replacement, Ben Cherington, who recently served as the team’s assistant GM.

Typically announcements such as this are not made until after the World Series so baseball fans can focus on baseball’s grandest stage, but since the Epstein-to-Chicago story has occupied the front pages of both Boston and Chicago, baseball needs to end this story now so the World Series can be the hottest baseball story in the sport.

Not only is that a good decision for baseball, but the Cubs need Epstein to get to work as soon as possible because there is much work to be done in order to make the organization a winner.

Epstein’s greatest talent is developing homegrown stars, and this is what the Cubs need badly. Chicago has very few homegrown players with superstar potential.

Developing young stars like he did in Boston with Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury will be crucial to the Cubs’ ability to make the playoffs consistently.

After failing to win the World Series since 1918, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 after Epstein helped build a very good team in Boston. 

The Cubs are hoping Epstein is talented enough to win the World Series for two “cursed” teams.

Chicago has not won the World Series since 1908, and Epstein has a much tougher task building a perennial winner with the Cubs than he had in Boston.

Epstein will make the Cubs a winning franchise, but it will take time—more time than it took in Boston to make the Red Sox an annual World Series contender.


Nicholas Goss is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for the latest sports news and updates.  

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Theo Epstein to Cubs: Talks Heating Up, Could Epstein Return to Boston Red Sox?

The Chicago Cubs are hoping that Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein will lead them to their first World Series title since 1908, but before he can do that, the two clubs must reach an agreement to allow Epstein to leave Boston, and the two sides are currently “far apart.”

The Red Sox clearly want a big return for Epstein, who is one of the best general managers in all of baseball. Boston would likely want a top Cubs prospect, lots of money or a combination of the two to let Epstein go. 

However, it’s unlikely the Cubs will part with a top-level prospect for the Red Sox GM.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino is trying very hard to get the most he can out of the Cubs for Epstein, and he’s making the entire process hard for Chicago.

One baseball executive with knowledge of both teams said the following about Lucchino in an NBC Sports article.

Larry Lucchino is one of the most unreasonable people I have ever dealt with and because of his frayed relationship with Theo Epstein he is looking to make a point at the expense of Theo’s happiness and his desire to go to Chicago. I didn’t believe that ownership group for one second when they said that they wouldn’t stand in Theo’s way if he wanted out of Boston. They are furious that he wants out and they are trying to make a point…

With the Red Sox frustrating the Cubs, it will be interesting to see if Chicago caves to the point where they relinquish a top prospect, or even better for Boston, take on the contract of starting pitcher John Lackey, whose tenure in Boston has been an absolute disgrace.

Without Epstein, the Red Sox will have a difficult time of developing homegrown talent, which has been so key to their success in the last decade. This might be why Boston wants a top prospect from the Cubs in this negotiation.

Epstein is one of the top player development guys in the sport, which is exactly the kind of general manager the Cubs need.

The last hurdle in the Esptein-to-the-Cubs ordeal would be if Theo can take some assistants from Boston with him to Chicago.

 The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham speculated that head trainer Mike Reinold and VP of baseball operations Brian O’Hallaran could be two guys Epstein would like to bring with him to Chicago.

This certainly isn’t what the Red Sox want to see. Losing Epstein is bad enough, but losing two other important baseball people would be disastrous for a club in disarray.

Theo Epstein will likely join the Chicago Cubs at some point in the next few weeks. He needs a new challenge, and he’s run his course with the Red Sox. 

He brought the city two World Series titles, including their first in 86 years back in 2004, and with all the turmoil surrounding the team, Epstein has every right to make the best decision for his professional career.

Even if that means taking his baseball talents to the Cubs.


Nicholas Goss is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for the latest sports news and updates.  

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