Boston Red Sox General Manager (and Cubs’ Dream Date) Theo Epstein yesterday was asked about rumors connecting him to the Chicago Cubs, who are in the midst of a GM search.

Epstein did very little to squash rumors about the Cubs, and his response was, at a minimum, interesting.

“I try to avoid commenting on things that are so speculative,” Epstein said. “I know there are a couple of articles which have appeared but I’m completely focused on the Red Sox of 2011, first and foremost, and what potentially lies ahead for this club.

“We’re trying to get to the postseason and win the World Series and I spend all my time working with my staff to make this the organization we want it to be for now and in the future,” Epstein continued. “That’s where my exclusive focus is.”

When pushed by reporters for a more concrete answer, he said simply, “Something like that I can’t even contemplate it long enough to comment on it. I’m all Red Sox, all the time …. I’m really happy to be with the Red Sox.”

Taking out the throat-clearing, here’s what Epstein said: I’m not going to comment. I’m happy in Boston. I’m focused on the 2011 Red Sox. I can’t think about the Cubs job enough to comment on it when I’m focused on the Red Sox.

It’s funny how you can take these comments in two diametrically opposed ways. And your “way,” probably depends on your bent.

ESPNBoston, predictably, takes the comments as a “see, he didn’t even offer a hint of interest in leaving Boston.”

The Chicago Tribune, predictably, takes the comments as a “see, he didn’t rule the Cubs’ job out.”

Both, of course, are a fair reading of the comments, but it’s important not to let your predisposition reform the actual words that Epstein used.

For my part, here’s as far as I’m willing to go:

It would have been relatively easy for Epstein to squash this thing right now. He was pressed on the issue, and he could have said he’s not going anywhere. He could have committed to Boston for next season, for which he’s under contract. He could have said, “I’m not going to the Chicago Cubs, and you can print that.”

Very few savvy businessmen would have done that, though. You never want to unnecessarily close doors, and, more importantly in his case, you never want to unnecessarily give up negotiating leverage with your current employer. Whether Epstein’s intentionally obtuse response when asked about the Cubs job was more about the former or the latter, we can only be certain that he consciously chose not to explicitly deny that there will ever be a chance he leaves Boston in favor of Chicago.

Does that mean he’s interested? Not necessarily. Does it mean there’s no chance he leaves Boston? Not necessarily.

It means only that Epstein had a clear chance to squash the entire discussion, and he very clearly elected not to do so.

  • Deer

    How often do GMs change jobs? I can’t recall it happening, but if Epstein were ever to leave the Red Sox, the Cubs job and power might be one of the few situations he’d seriously consider. I take his comments as I can’t discuss the job with the Cubs until the postseason is over. The question is if Ricketts is willing to wait or if he really wants a guy in place before the postseason ends.

  • ramin

    Relax people he’s not leaving. Y would I trade my ferarri for a stationwagon.

  • jt

    The chance that we get Epstein has about as much of a chance of happening as Pujols in a cubs jersey. That’s my honest opinion.

    • Brett

      I’d say Epstein is twice as likely … though that’s because I’d put the chances of Pujols at 1%, and Epstein at 2%.

      (I’m slightly exaggerating.)

      • packman711

        So you’re saying there’s a chance…

        • Wilbur

          He does kind of look like Jim Carrey …

      • JulioZuleta

        I think the Epstein thing has some real legs, he has a chance to turn himself into an absolute baseball legend if he could turn around these two franchises. What else does he have to prove?? I think that if Tommy Boy offered him a president type job, I’d say he would very likely take it.

        • blake

          I think Theo has to have that in the back of his mind… How bad ass would it be to bring trophies to two of the thirstiest fan bases in the history of the sport. Very Bad Ass.

        • hardtop

          yeah man, i dont know.  it takes an awful big set of balls (hairy ones too) to set out to “prove” something when you basically have a ton of respect, *wicked awesome* job security, and millions of dollars pouring in for the rest of your carreer.  if he hangs in there, he’ll one day run the show in beantown, and all he has to do is sit back and keep doing what he’s been doing.  i hope he is a reckless thrill seeker though.  i hope he’s not about the money and more about taking on the bigger challenge… big risk, big reward, all that.  but its so unlikley, im begining to wonder if we should even be thinking about it.

  • DaveB23

    To me, Epstein’s key comment was: I’m completely focused on the Redsox… “Of 2011”. When I’m reading between the lines, I look at that as, he’s saying hes going to do the job hes getting paid to do this season and he’s going to fully focus on that job until it’s done (which is whenever the 2011 season ends for the Redsox). It seems to me, however, that by adding the little ‘of 2011’ part he is leaving the door open to consider something with the Cubs.
    Otherwise, wouldn’t he just say:

    “I’m completely focused on the Red Sox and what lies ahead for this club.”
    instead of:
    “I’m completely focused on the Red Sox -of 2011-, -first and foremost-, and what -potentially- lies ahead for this club.”

    Why would he add in the ‘of 2011’, ‘first and foremost’, and ‘potentially’ in there unless he was leaving the door open at the end of the season? If he wasn’t interested in the Cubs job, or if he truly wants to stay in Boston at least through the end of his contract next season, I’m pretty sure he would have not included these little phrases

  • Cheryl

    The possibility goes up, but don’t hold your breath.

    • DaveB23

      The possibility goes up… If Tommy boy offers a president-type gig to Epstein. If Epstein were to even consider Chicago, I’m fairly certain that’s the only offer that would pry him from Boston.
      Then the question becomes: Will Tommy boy be willing to offer a position like that? I have a fear that Ricketts’ inner-fan will not allow this. Ricketts has said he plans on completely running the baseball side of things. Even though it would be in the Cubs best interest to get a guy like Epstein on board ANY WAY that they can, Ricketts won’t be willing to step down from his plan to be president of baseball ops. He will want to be ‘the guy’ who makes a World Series possible, and if Epstein comes in in a president role Ricketts probably figures Epstein will take all the credit if/when the Cubs win.

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