PITTSBURGH — We don't yet know what kind of changes will take place for the Cubs this winter, but Theo Epstein made one thing certain Wednesday evening — he's not going anywhere.
The Boston Globe's Alex Speier made headlines this week when he linked Epstein to his former team, the Red Sox, as a potential name to keep an eye on to fill the club's president of baseball operations role. The Red Sox fired Dave Dombrowski earlier this month, less than a year after a 108-win season and a World Series championship.
As he sat in the visiting dugout at PNC Park Wednesday evening and gave a little preview of his "State of the Cubs" address, Epstein was asked about the Red Sox link.
"Yeah, I saw that. There's nothing to that story," he said. "I'm here. We have a lot we need to work on to get back to the level we're accustomed to. I'm invested in that. That's what I'm focused on, so yeah, there's nothing to that.
"I will say, I have really good relationships with a lot of people there. I certainly wish them the best. It's just, there's nothing to the story."
Epstein also said it's "still true" that Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and senior vice president Jason McLeod are also not packing up and heading back to Boston.
The three front office executives worked together with the Red Sox before Hoyer and McLeod left to go to the San Diego Padres. Epstein left Boston after the 2011 season to tackle a new challenge with the Cubs and is wrapping up his eighth season in Chicago.
Epstein did concede the final month of this 2019 season reminds him of the 2011 Red Sox, who held a nine-game division lead on Sept. 3 and wound up missing the playoffs altogether by going 6-18 down the stretch.
"They're different, but in terms of pain in September, yeah," Epstein said. "In my mind, I think there's some similarities as far as worst possible outcomes given where you were at a moment in time, sure."
Epstein pointed to the fact that the 2011 Red Sox were one of the best teams in baseball for most of that season, while the 2019 Cubs never really found their groove or built up any separation in the division.
Still, the expectations were sky-high for both clubs — World Series or bust.
"As far as what could've been and what was, yeah," Epstein said. "They were different teams, obviously, and this [Cubs] club had some real flaws I'm responsible for. But I do feel like we left a lot on the table. Depending on how the next few games go, we might be only the second 100-run differential team ever to not make the playoffs in this modern Wild-Card era.
"Run differential is not everything and there are well-documented reasons for why ours is potentially a little bit misleading, but it is the number that correlates best to wins out of any out there. You give me one number and ask how many games a team should win, I'll take run differential. I think it just shows what could've been. I think we're all beating ourselves up for that in some way."