02/18/12 5:42 PM EST
Cubs brass finalizes 'The Cubs' Way' guide
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"You can't sum it up in one or two sentences," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of the guide, finalized this week during the team's organizational meetings. "Everything there is about the game, how we're going to approach it the same way as an organization from the Dominican Summer League to [Class] A ball, Double-A, Triple-A and up to the big leagues. Playing hard is a big part of it; playing the game the right way and teaching it consistently is important."
Epstein had a similar guide with the Red Sox. The Cubs' version was created with input from everyone in the baseball operations department, and it is very detailed, including such things as which foot hits the bag when players make a turn on the bases.
"We're not creating the wheel here or re-inventing anything," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said on Saturday. "It's just refining everything to get things done on an everyday basis. The Cubs' way or anybody's way, it's just the right way to do things."
That doesn't mean that the other 29 teams are doing things wrong.
"This is the right way for us," Epstein said.
Usually, teams hold organizational meetings in early November, but Epstein delayed the Cubs' session until everyone was in place. And next year, the next meetings may involve some revisions.
"The Cubs' way is in writing, and the scouting manual is done and the player development manual is getting finished, but it's a living, breathing thing," Epstein said. "First of all, it grows every year. You can't figure this thing out. We'll make modifications to our teaching approach.
"The Cubs' way really boils down to the people -- the players, obviously, but everyone, all the scouts and all the people in uniform in the Minor Leagues and the big leagues," he said. "For us to teach the game the right way, it's more than words on the page. It comes down to how deep we dig to get connected to players to teach the game the right way, how much we care, how committed we are, how hard we work. There's a lot that goes into this and building an organization."
That's been Epstein's task since he took over in late October, and it started with the addition of general manager Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod. The three were together in Boston, and now they're trying to recreate the success they had there in Chicago.
The two-day organizational meetings allowed Epstein to set the tone.
"Since we're in the early stages of the organization, it was very important to lay out the vision, lay out the plan and get everyone invested in defining the Cubs' way, and it went extremely well from that standpoint," he said. "We thought everyone was engaged, and it was a great feeling of cooperation and energy."
But there are no plans to publish the manual.
"I think the public will know about it when players who we've drafted and signed come through our system learning the Cubs' way and play that way at Wrigley," Epstein said. "They should hold us accountable; we should have good results. They should see our players playing the same way in the Minor Leagues and when they get to the big leagues. They should see a fundamentally sound team, they should see smart and aggressive baseball. It doesn't matter how the sausage is made, right? It's a results-oriented business."
DeWitt clears waivers after being sent down
MESA, Ariz. -- Infielder Blake DeWitt has apparently cleared waivers, and the Cubs are waiting to see if he will return to the team as a non-roster invitee.
DeWitt, who batted .265 last season with the Cubs, had avoided arbitration and signed a $1.1 million contract in January. But he was designated for assignment on Feb. 6 to make room on the 40-man roster for infielder Adrian Cardenas.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said that DeWitt has until Wednesday to decide whether to return to the Cubs or become a free agent.
"Our thoughts haven't changed about Blake," Hoyer said on Saturday. "Our hope was to have both guys in the organization. If Blake comes back, he has every possible chance to compete in camp. He has some time [to make a decision], but we certainly hope he's back."
Epstein: Castro allegations won't be distraction
MESA, Ariz. -- Starlin Castro should be at camp when position players are scheduled to report on Thursday, and the offseason allegations surrounding him are not expected to be a distraction, said president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
Castro was questioned by Chicago police in mid-January after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman on Sept. 29, the night after the regular season ended. No criminal charges have been filed against Castro, 21, and there have been no new developments since the shortstop spoke to the police.
Epstein said on Saturday that the club has invited people from Sport in Society of Northeastern University to conduct seminars this spring for the players, in hopes of helping them make the right decisions off the field. Sport in Society covers such topics as leadership, diversity and inclusion, violence prevention and community service.
The baseball operations staff created a "Cubs' way" manual this week to make sure that they coach everyone in the system the same way. But Epstein said that there's more involved.
"The Cubs' way means high standards off the field," Epstein said.
In his first full Major League season in 2011, Castro led the National League in hits and was named to the All-Star team.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.