Obsessive Cubs GM Watch: More Theo Epstein Rumors

Perhaps this feature should be called Obsessive Theo Epstein Watch…

  • Buster Olney was on the radio yesterday guessing that Epstein ultimately ends up with the Cubs. Peter Gammons says the Cubs’ job would be attractive to Epstein. Bob Ryan says the Cubs’ job makes a lot of sense for Epstein. I doubt, at this point, that these kind of guesses are based on anything more than a read of the situation. That’s not to say they don’t have value – sometimes guys in the biz unconsciously glean telling information that informs their guesses and opinions. Maybe it’s just the Cubs fan in me, but I can’t yet shake the feeling Epstein will decide to remain in Boston, despite all of the smoke.
  • Bruce Levine dropped an interesting thought on the radio yesterday: Levine says a big part of the reason the White Sox were able to get so much in return from the Marlins for Ozzie Guillen was because the Fish had been making overtures at Guillen for the better part of a few months. Thus, when it came time to put together a trade, the White Sox had a theoretical tampering charge to hold over the Marlins’ head – in other words, the Marlins had to make the White Sox happy. People like to use the Guillen trade as a starting point for the Epstein compensation question, but Levine says, assuming the Cubs have done everything by the book, the situations aren’t quite comparable.
  • I’ve been perusing a few Red Sox blogs and listening to some Red Sox radio shows to get a sense of what they’re all thinking about this. Fan reaction doesn’t conclusively demonstrate what will happen, but I have no doubt that it informs ownerships’ decisions. (Hi, Tom!) The sense I get is that, while Sawx fans don’t want to see Theo leave, they believe he should be given a chance to interview with the Cubs. You see two primary justifications from fans: (1) “he’s earned it,” and (2) “I want to know that he’s ‘all in.’” Both seem fair to me, though I’d have a hard time being so magnanimous were it my big-time GM in the store window.*
  • Howard Bryant rips on Epstein for presiding over the Red Sox’s collapse, and for standing ready to cash his next big paycheck. I can’t tell if Bryant is being contrarian to drum up interest, or if he actually believes this: “Without the assistance of players such as Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, who were in place under his predecessor, Dan Duquette, as well as the performance-enhanced play of Ramirez (at least a two-time offender of baseball’s steroid policy) and Ortiz (who has yet to make good on his vow to clear his name) and the availability of the wild-card berth (the Red Sox have won exactly two division titles over the last 20 seasons, while Tampa Bay has won two in the last four years), Epstein is just a smart person in a great job, no different than Brian Cashman or the deposed Hendry.”
  • Nick Cafardo, who just the other day said the Red Sox should hold the Cubs’ feet to the fire on Epstein and ask for the moon, says Tom Ricketts should go all out to get Epstein. So, to recap: a Boston writer thinks the Cubs should do whatever it takes to get Epstein, and the Red Sox should ask for an insane amount for Epstein. Got it.
  • Phil Rogers writes the link-baitiest piece ever – in it, he says Ricketts might bring in Epstein to be the president, and one of the tip-top assistant GM candidates to be the GM, which would be a dream scenario. But then he says, “[s]ources close to Ricketts say it’s possible but unlikely.” Well, swell. Thanks for writing.
  • Paul Sullivan and Bob Brenly both are noting how much pressure Epstein would face if he came to Chicago. And, they’re right – he would immediately be dubbed the “savior.” But, like, um, I’m pretty sure he faces just a little pressure in Boston, too.
  • If you’re wondering why this is taking so long and why there is so much silence, just put yourself in the shoes of Red Sox ownership. You just lost a heartbreaking playoff race, wherein your team collapsed worse than any team in history. Your fans are restless. You just fired (essentially) your long-time manager, and are trying to start a search for a new one. Your uber-GM might be interested in exploring other opportunities, or he might just want more money or a better title. Another team has asked permission to interview him. You’ve got to think about compensation, should he leave. You’ve got to think about a replacement, should he leave. You’ve got to think about how you’re going to keep the manager search ongoing, should he leave. It’s a really complicated time for the Red Sox, and there are a lot of decisions to be made in a relatively short period of time.
  • Something that’s been pointed out in the comments, and it’s an interesting thought: if the Red Sox say “no” to the request to interview Epstein, they’re probably going to have a disgruntled GM running the show in the last year of his contract. Is that really something they’ll risk? But the counterargument: that assumes they aren’t hammering out the details of an extension/promotion as I type.
  • Steve Rosenbloom chimes in with his typical ridiculous fare. This time, he’s trying to criticize Tom Ricketts for going after Theo Epstein (the kind of big-time move Rosenbloom regularly rips Ricketts for not making) instead of Red Sox president Larry Lucchino. Don’t bother reading it. It’s terrible, as are – increasingly – all of Rosenbloom’s columns. He is either genuinely dim, or, more likely, intentionally writes this kind of garbage to get eyeballs. What a depressing professional life that must be.
  • As always, “like” Bleacher Nation on Facebook or follow it on Twitter to get the latest updates as they happen.

*The other thing I keep seeing/hearing everywhere in Red Sox Nation: fans are pissed that the media was asleep at the wheel on the booze-in-the-clubhouse-and-players-don’t-like-Tito story. They wonder why is that story coming out only now that the collapse is complete, and not months ago, when journalists who cover the team surely had to be aware of it. The answer, of course, is access. Red Sox beat writers have it, and don’t want to risk it. It makes me wonder what the various Cubs’ beat writers would do if they caught wind of a similar story mid-season.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

53 responses to “Obsessive Cubs GM Watch: More Theo Epstein Rumors”

  1. die hard

    a new name…Asst GM with good track record and no ego problems…Gord Ash of Brewers

  2. Mikey

    Brett, whats happening right now? is it official that the redsox said that they want compensation? or is that just a rumor? and say they want compensation who are the players they are targeting? i have heard various rumors about starlin castro… BUT thats OUTRAGOUS! any ideas, skipper?

  3. Toosh

    Before Epstein became the Red Sox GM they wanted Beane. Oakland wanted a young Kevin Youkilis in return. We know how that worked out. Boston might very well ask for a top prospect or player in return for Epstein. Ricketts should not do it.

  4. Edwin

    Bert,

    Is there any chance the Cubs bring in CJ Wilson as the new GM? I would love to see a Meet the GM about Wilson. Also, if CJ signs with a different team this off-season, how does that hurt/help his chances to be the next Cubs GM?

    -Edwin

    1. CubFan Paul

      hilarious

  5. jstraw

    I have no problem with beat writers protecting their access, generally. Without it there is no beat writer. You’ve read Glanville’s book.

  6. Spencer

    So, here’s something to think about.  Let’s say that Epstein gets the OK to interview with the Cubs (no compensation required at this stage) and that he gets offered the job and accepts.  But, to release him from his contract, Boston is now requiring compensation.  This is kind of an awkward situation, but seems to me that Epstein would be the one negotiating what the compensation actually is as the presumptive GM of the Cubs.  He shouldn’t leave it up to Bush/Ricketts to decide what to send to Boston, since Epstein is ultimately the one with all future personnel choices.  So, there could be a situation where Epstein is negotiating with Boston while technically still under their employ.  Something to think about.  Hopefully this scenario makes sense.

  7. philoe beddoe

    yes the waiting sucks and I don’t know if it is good or bad…hopefully it means Theo is at least thinking about it…..

    I can’t believe all of the Anti-Theo talk from Cub fans….I would make sure we had Friedman locked up as a back-up plan before I went wishing Theo away…

    things could go back to that boring B level…Rick Hahn etc…really quick

    embrace the possibility of Theo!

  8. Matt

    Any chance the powers that be will come out tomorrow and announce that a deal is completely done? I know Ricketts wanted to keep things hush hush. Could he have already gotten permission, spoke with Theo and hammered out a deal without the press knowing. It would behoove the Sox to keep quite so that Theo could save face if he decides to interview and then pass on the job and stay in Boston. Just wondering what you people that are smarter than I out there are thinking?

  9. Toosh

    The announcement of the new GM will be made before the announcement of the raise in ticket prices and increased season ticket sales.

  10. Cheryl

    PB, I don’t think it’s anti-Theo talk. I think it’s more like anti-compensation talk for just talking to him. That’s when I said, go elsewhere.

  11. hardtop

    all of this noise about trading for Epstein and compensation for permission to talk etc, is making me increasingly sour on a guy whom i don’t think is the best choice anyway. add to that the lackey deal and the handful of big ugly’s in his past and my allegiance to Friedman winning this race is solidifying.

    1. Matt

      I think Friedman would be a great choice as well, maybe better than Epstein. I have not heard that he is even remotely interested from what I have read. I feel like we have a better change for Theo, however small that may be.

  12. ty

    Brett—-just discovered Bleacher Nation as my semi-retirement kicking in or kicking me. Judgement was not to develop habit of reading about Cubs during this year as anti-depressant drugs have serious side affects. change of mind–after you ripping stevie rogenblum a new one –total respect for you sir and your enterprise.

  13. Dumpman

    The more I think about it Brett, the less im willing to give up anything of any value to Theo. Theo is an executive, under contract for one more year for the Sox. Either they need to say No, hes our guy and we want him, Or yes, talk to him because we’re moving in a different direction. Thats the position I’d take if I am Ricketts. If hes their guy hes their guy and we move on to differen’t options. Seems more like a decision the Sox have to make really. It seems all of us are really complicating this whole ordeal. It really does look like we have all the leverage in the world. These sites of reading them taking Castro or Garza while we take on Lackey is foolishness. To me, its yes or no. If no, then move onto your next layer of guys. Friedman, Hahn, Cherrington, and Coppolella.

  14. Mike

    The compensation talk is premature. While in the case of Ozzie it is true compensation was involved for a lateral move requiring permission, and the potential problems with early contact, if you read the better writers, that wouldn’t apply here as Ricketts seemed poised to make Epstein the President of baseball operations. This is no small point. Interviewing Epstein for the position, basically reassigning CK, makes any claim of compensation moot. Further it’s then up to Selgi and Epstein how far they push it. In other words if Epstein doesn’t want the layer of Luchinno and others between Henry and wants to captain of his own ship, this is it, and this along with greater anonymity are the reason for the move. That sounds weird. But in Boston, he has no where to hide. Recently, I ran into a very famous Actor on the streets Chicago, A list top 10 all of that. No one stopped to talk to him, no one asking for autographs, just yours truly clumsily bumping into him. But the point is there are logical reasons Epstein may want out Boston writers are proposing. And the Lucchino and anonymity things are no small matter, either for him or the reason why high if any compensation is unlikely.

    I don’t think this thing drags on much longer. Frankly I don’t think, could be wrong, but don’t see the issue as compensation. I would be of a belief the only thing hanging it up is an attempt by Boston to keep and try to work something out.

    1. Dumpman

      Great write up. I think the problem is the uncertainty of it all. Cubs and Sox seem to be real tight lipped about this, so we have no idea how this will all play out. Admittably, most of what I have to go by is speculation / deductive reasoning. I think I’m in the minority here but I dont think Theo is heads and shoulders above all these other candidates anyways.

      1. Matt

        Are the Red Sox under any kind of pressure to get something in return after dragging it out this long? If they would have said that Theo could talk to the Cubs right away, then this idea of compensation would not have gained much traction. As it is, Red Sox nation may now be salivating for the chance to either A)Gain some great prospect, B)Dump some lousy contract, or C) some combination of A and B. That is to say that, they didn’t give immediate permission to the Cubs and the claims of compensation for a release or even the permission to talk are completely incorrect. Either way, I feel like the pressure mounts for the Red Sox front office with each passing minute while Ricketts may be quietly contacting Friedman and whomever he may choose while he waits for Boston?

  15. Cheryl

    Matt, your analysis makes sense. Ricketts doesn’t have to do a thing. In fact, the more Boston drags this out it would seem the more likely that Ricketts looks elsewhere.

  16. die hard

    Boston ought to give us compensation for taking Theo off their hands…..If Ricketts is such a good businessman, then this would be obvious to him….Boston wants him out and doesnt want to eat his contract…

    1. Bails17

      What?  Did you fall and hit your head Die Hard?

  17. Windy City Misfit

    Any chance that Theo is helping Boston find a replacment GM? (If no new news before the end of Friday.) Seems Ricketts is willing to go outside the box, with the whole Hendry thing.

    And any chance Ricketts wants to build a dream team kinda thing? Theo + Friedman. Better spent money then spent in left field right?

    1. Dumpman

      No chance Theo is doing that. The next GM of the Sox is already in the Organization if he leaves. From everything I’ve read that is.

    2. Boogens

      Agreed. No chance that both come. Theo’s trying to get out of a situation where his authority is shared and Friedman loves his current situation so he’s not leaving it to go to a position where he has to share power. Plus, a major component of the allure for the job is the recognition / credit, the ego boost. That’s not going to be shared.