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Mike Rizzo has made plenty of roster alterations since taking over as GM in 2009.
As talented and respected as Epstein is, and as successful as he was in Boston, anyone who believes he can turn the Cubs into winners overnight doesn't appreciate just how monumental a task that is.
It would be one thing if Epstein was taking over a Chicago roster loaded with talent and a farm system overflowing with prospects. But he's not. The Cubs have one young position player to build around: Starlin Castro. They've got a couple of decent young pitchers in Matt Garza and Randy Wells. And they've got tons of dead money owed to under-performing veterans who are stuck on the roster for years to come. (Can you believe Alfonso Soriano still has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract?)
Overhauling a franchise, plain and simple, takes time. Just ask Mike Rizzo, who has been GM of the Nationals for three full seasons now and is still in the process of reshaping the roster.
By all accounts, Rizzo has done an impressive job rebuilding the Nats, whether restocking their farm system, signing veterans or acquiring key players via trade. But you may be surprised to know how many players acquired during the Jim Bowden era still remain in uniform.
Here's the current 40-man roster -- it's actually at 43 because of three players who ended the season on the 60-day DL -- arranged via the method the players were acquired and which GM ran the front office at the time...
DRAFTED (20)Collin Balester (Minaya, 2004)Ian Desmond (Minaya, 2004)John Lannan (Bowden, 2005)Craig Stammen (Bowden, 2005)Ryan Zimmerman (Bowden, 2005)Cole Kimball (Bowden, 2006)Chris Marrero (Bowden, 2006)Brad Peacock (Bowden, 2006)Ross Detwiler (Bowden, 2007)Jesus Flores (Rule 5, Bowden, 2007)Jordan Zimmermann (Bowden, 2007)Danny Espinosa (Bowden, 2008)Steve Lombardozzi (Bowden, 2008)Tom Milone (Bowden, 2008)Drew Storen (Rizzo, 2009)Stephen Strasburg (Rizzo, 2009)Bryce Harper (Rizzo, 2010)Matt Purke (Rizzo, 2011)Elvin Ramirez (Rule 5, Rizzo, 2011)Anthony Rendon (Rizzo, 2011)
TRADE (9)Tyler Clippard (Bowden, 2008)Sean Burnett (Rizzo, 2009)Ryan Mattheus (Rizzo, 2009)Michael Morse (Rizzo, 2009)Wilson Ramos (Rizzo, 2010)Corey Brown (Rizzo, 2011)Jonny Gomes (Rizzo, 2011)Tom Gorzelanny (Rizzo, 2011)Henry Rodriguez (Rizzo, 2011)
FREE AGENT (13)Roger Bernadina (Beinfest, 2001)Atahualpa Severino (Minaya, 2004)Livan Hernandez (Rizzo, 2009)Ivan Rodriguez (Rizzo, 2009)Yunesky Maya (Rizzo, 2010)Chien-Ming Wang (Rizzo, 2010)Rick Ankiel (Rizzo, 2011)Brian Bixler (Rizzo, 2011)Todd Coffey (Rizzo, 2011)Alex Cora (Rizzo, 2011)Adam LaRoche (Rizzo, 2011)Laynce Nix (Rizzo, 2011)Jayson Werth (Rizzo, 2011)
WAIVERS (1)Doug Slaten (Rizzo, 2010)
Bet you never thought about how many players acquired under Bowden's watch are still on the roster. Guarantee you never thought about how players acquired by Omar Minaya and Larry Beinfest when they were GM of the Montreal Expos are still around.
Point is, these things take time, especially when it comes to overhauling a farm system. The Nationals are just now finally reaping the benefits of that.
If given the time and resources, Epstein should be able to do the same with the Cubs. But don't expect it to happen overnight.
As we've seen here in D.C., there's only so much a new GM can do when handed a roster he didn't create.