Theo Epstein’s title is president of baseball operations for the Cubs, though it might as well be director of fretting or president of what if?
Whether it’s his job or his personality, he worries about anything that moves, which is why his backup plans have backup plans. His occupation is preoccupations.
But he has one less worry now, thanks to Dexter Fowler’s arrival.
Last week, before the centerfielder shocked the baseball world by re-signing with the Cubs, Epstein was talking about the issues that give him pause about this year’s team. The first one he brought up was Jason Heyward’s move to centerfield after a six-year career spent mostly in right field. All that territory to cover for such a large man. The possibility of more wear and tear. Perhaps a greater chance of injury.
“We have some vulnerabilities, or at least some open questions, some potential issues,’’ Epstein said at the time. “Our outfield defense will be interesting because we’re asking Jason Heyward to play a position that’s largely new to him. He’s played centerfield, but he hasn’t played it on a daily basis for a whole season. He’s 250 pounds. You don’t see a lot of guys that size playing that position every day, although we think he’s an elite defender who can adjust well out there.’’
But with Fowler’s signature on a contract, Heyward goes back to a place he never left, and the issues of fatigue and injury are lessened. And now Epstein doesn’t have to worry about Heyward and left fielder Kyle Schwarber colliding in the outfield, though the world will be deprived of the possibility of a spectacular two-truck crash.
So all is peaceful in Theo’s world? No. You see a team that’s loaded with talent. He sees potential for trouble, no matter how faint.
Good news: The Cubs have pitchers in the bullpen who can start, if necessary – Adam Warren, Trevor Cahill, Travis Wood and Clayton Richard. Bad news: If there’s an injury in the rotation, those relievers won’t be stretched out enough to start right away, and the Cubs will have to go to Triple-A for starters. Really bad news: Right now, there aren’t any great options at the minor-league level.
Sleep well, Theo.