Quantcast

It is becoming an increasingly badly kept secret that the Chicago Cubs’ top choice for the open general manager position is Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. That Tampa Bay Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman is number two on the list is similarly becoming a given.

So, while we wait on the Red Sox’s decision about whether to allow the Cubs to interview Epstein (which, of course, may have already happened, and we simply don’t yet know), the Cubs are probably working double time pursuing Friedman, whose Rays were bounced from the ALDS this week.

And, if Rays’ owner Stuart Sternberg were working for the Cubs on the pitch to Friedman, he couldn’t have done much better than he did yesterday. In public. To everyone.

“When I came here, I was confident we could put a winning team on the field, and that would do it,” Sternberg said to reporters after the Rays’ playoff loss. “We won, and we won, and we won and we won … and it didn’t do it. Whatever it is, there are 29 other teams passing us like we’re going in reverse now. Except on the field, and at some point, that changes.

“As the owner, I could have affected things today. Today, and a couple of games where a thumper would thump. I could decide to mortgage the future and trade all the young guys, but the truth is that we would only get $9.82 extra at the gate. So what’s the sense?”

Sternberg is, of course, talking about the Rays’ embarrassing attendance problems, even in the face of back-to-back-to-back very good teams (the Rays’ attendance for Tuesday’s playoff game, 28,229, is less than the Cubs average for a random, meaningless August game against the Pirates). Without an improved revenue stream, Sternberg doesn’t think the Rays can add the players they need via free agency or trade. Indeed, he doesn’t think the franchise can even survive long term.

“It won’t be my decision, or solely my decision,” Sternberg said, with the reported look of a man who had been punched in the gut. “But eventually, major-league baseball is going to vaporize this team. It could go on nine, 10, 12 more years. But between now and then, it’s going to vaporize this team. Maybe a check gets written locally, maybe someone writes me a check [to buy the team]. But it’s going to get vaporized.”

It’s a sad state of things in Tampa Bay, and it’s actually a complex knotting of reasons why the team cannot get the local support it needs to put the on-field product over the top. And Sternberg is probably right: how much longer can an organization, even one run by the brightest minds in baseball, stay competitive with such a disadvantage? I’m not looking to dance on the Rays’ grave here.

But dance we must.

Sternberg’s incisive words have to speak loudest to his GM, Andrew Friedman, who scrambles year in and year out to put a competitive team on the field on a shoe-string budget. When his boss and friend tells the world that the franchise is dying a slow death in spite of those efforts, surely Friedman will have to consider his options.

And, with the Cubs undoubtedly at least reaching out, how could Friedman not listen? Unlike Epstein, Friedman works without a contract, so he’s free to speak to the Cubs any time he chooses.

Given the state of affairs in Tampa Bay, my guess is he chooses, at least, to have that conversation.

 

  • TWC

    I’d be happy with Epstein.  Probably.  I’d be very happy with Friedman.  Definitely.

    • Joe Cartwright

      Same.

  • Joe Cartwright

    The Rays definitely excel in two of the areas that we’re miserable in : pitching and defense.

    • Joe Cartwright

      Their entire starting rotation this year were guys they drafted.
      And then there’s Matt Moore. They do a really good job getting pitching.

    • bacboris

      Only 2? I could only hope. I’ll take the rays method in any facet of the game over the cubs approach. Everything from player evaluation to building a competent head office.

  • CubFan Paul

    after that ramble on by the owner I’d definitely seek out Tom Ricketts. but, I bet Ricketts bought Freidman dinner Tuesday night..

  • amoo22

    I feel like if we got the GM from tampa he wouldnt know what to do with all the money, which is why id prefer theo, just because hes been around the money. Not that he hasnt made any bad decisions. Although i do see carl crawford being better than soriano in the long term. Even if soriano did carry the team offensively for a few years.

    • Nomar’s Left Glove

      Amoo,
      If he fielded a team that cost half as much, I’d be fine with it, as long as it was a competitive team. We don’t need to spend $130mil to field the sorry sack of fail that we saw this year. Rickett’s is a business man. If I were in his shoes Friedman would have been choice 1A from the start. Why go after a guy who can field a good $150mil team if the guy who fielded the team that beat the $150mil team for half the cost is available? I would always choose the guy who’s most efficient with his money. Just saying. The Cubs just put together a Freidman-esque draft. Did they do that to lure a guy who buys top dollar free agents, or a guy that understands the importance of building a team on a budget?

  • EQ76

    One thing to factor in here is projected team payroll.. Epstein is used to operating with a much larger payroll than the Cubs have this year, Freidman, with a much lower one.  wouldn’t the job’s attractiveness be greater to Friedman than to Epstein?  For Epstein, it could be a harder job than his current since he’d have less to work with.. for Friedman, it would be like hitting the GM lottery.

    I guess what I’m saying is that one of two scenarios could be in play here.. 1) the Cubs will keep payroll around where they are now or 2) they expect a dramatic increase in payroll over the next few years.  If payroll won’t increase, I can’t see why Epstein would come to the Cubs.

    • amoo22

      If epstien comes to the cubs and wins a world series then he is a lock for the HOF winning with boston and the cubs. Also why the manager position is so attractive

      • Serio

        Thanks for the hot tip…amoo22

    • Bails17

      Actually that is not all true EQ76….it was not until 2010 that we saw the Sox go upto that $160mil mark.  They were around the $120-$135 mil mark for the years before that.

      • EQ76

        true, but you need to look at team payroll more objectively, it’s not as much about what each year’s totals are but more about where you are relative to everyone else.. they’re usually always 2nd or 3rd in MLB in payroll.  My point is simply this, will Epstein want to leave his hometown, current job for another job with a (slightly) lower payroll and perhaps a little more pressure to produce a title?  (keep in mind I put perhaps)

        Of course he’d be king if he won in Chicago, but will the risk be worth it to him?  He is already in a top 5 organization right now.

        And my other point, will Ricketts escalate payroll to where we are consistently a top 3-4 payroll team?  If so, that could be part of the negotiations.

        • Bails17

          I think if things happen like they did in Boston by creating more revenue streams we will see the payroll go up by 20 or so mil.  I am hoping at least!!  You make a few valid points…but so does Alex…no competing with the Yankees for sure…or at least not as much.

    • Alex

      I agree with you that Epstein won’t have the same payroll clout that he has in Boston, but he won’t have to outbid the Yankees either.

      With the Cards payroll at around $100 Million and the Brewers at $80 – $90 Million, the Cubs won’t have any problems payroll wise.

      I would still rather have Friedman though.

  • http://TheoWaiting Cheryl

    One factor to consider with Friedman is because he operates on a shoestrong budget he might not get caught up in the long-term contacts that did in Hendry. Friedman seems to excell in the draft and is probably much more committed to a good farm system than Epstein because he has to be. I’m starting to lean more to Friedman than Epstein..

  • philoe beddoe

    Let’s just hope we get one of these two…because in a flash, they could both be off the board….maybe it’s just my own Cub negative self but I think Theo stays in Boston(unless he reads my earlier post on his chance to be a deity in two cities)

    then we would be down to the B level…it seems to me an extreme stroke of good luck for the Cubs recently with BoSox debacle and the Tampa Bay owner telling the truth about fracnhise…I didn’t think we would get close to either guy…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I still think that’s how things play out, but don’t sell the “B” level guys short – they’re the best assistants in the game, who are just waiting for their chance to become Epstein/Friedman.

  • Deez

    Stuart Sternberg basically saying, “Man, Thanks for everything & good luck in getting the Cubs gig.”
    Also, even though Epstein may be the “favorite” or “frontrunner,” It would behoove me if Ricketts didn’t at least interview 3 to 5 candidates overall to get a better perspective of who he really thinks should lead this organization as well as their approach.

  • Steve

    Bret, do we really know he is number one? I feel like if he wasn’t under contract next year and the Sawx hadn’t just completed the most epic of collapses, all this Theo talk wouldn’t be happening. I mean look at Friedman, he’s not getting nearly the attention Theo is. The biggest news that has actual concrete fact, is that the Cubs asked permission to speak to Theo, something they HAD to do in order to talk to him. I beleive Rickettes is still playing this pretty close to the vest. After all, the reports that the Cubs asked for permission came out of Boston. No one really has any good leads as to what the Cubs are doing. From all the talk, it sounds like the list of candidates is (in no particular order) Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, Jerry DiPoto, Rick Hahn and John Coppolella. My feeling is a lot of the Epstein and Friedman talk is just due diligence. I’m not saying I’d complain about either of them being the next GM of the Cubs, I just think the Cubs need to hire someone who doesn’t ha e the same name recognition that can be a total new guy and come in and creat his own culture do a real 180 on this franchise without all of the biased opinions that would follow an Epstein or a Friedman. What are your thoughts?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think you’re right that Epstein is not the *only* serious candidate, but, given the timing (the long wait in the process, the immediate uptick in chatter as soon as the Red Sox were eliminated, a near immediate request to interview, no other whispers of interviews), and Ricketts’ repeatedly stated desire to model after the Red Sox, it’s hard to argue Epstein isn’t option one.

      • Steve

        I cancer behind that. Also, is it just me, or is the Boston media getting more absurd with their ideas about possible compensation?

        • hansman1982

          All they want is Castro, BJax and Cashner…I dont think that is absurd

          Boston needs another 50 year title drought to get their britches back to the right size

    • Buck

      What biased opinions? Especially with Friedman, what shit could be talked about that guy? All he’s done is win with next to nothing. Big name or no name, you hire the best damn man for the job. Look, when you’ve been getting your ass kicked for 103 years by Russian MiGs and can’t take it anymore, you don’t hire Wolfman or Slider because they have a lower profile and you would like to see them get a chance. If you can afford it, you hire goddamn Maverick because he’s THE BEST and YOU KNOW he’s going to kick some Russian ass, you’ve already seen him do it. Sure he’s “dangerous” and a Goose might get killed but there’s going to be collateral damage in a big job like that(i.e. Quade). Let’s not overthink this shit, if you can get a Top Gun, by god you take it. Pete Mitchell FTW!

      • Steve

        Biased doesn’t have to be negativity. What do you want, the Rays and Sox 2.0, or a completely rejuvenated Cubs franchise? I just think the cubs should hire someone that can be their guy, not get someone who made his name elsewhere. Also, not to discredit him, but Andrew Friedman is surrounded by the best front office in baseball. He would have Oneri Fleita, Tim Wilkem and Ari Kaplan. I like all of those guys and think they’ve laid the groundwork for some serious changes, but the Rays front office is a big reason why Friedman looks so good.

  • die hard

    Not going to work….lets give an experienced guy like Gordon Ash a 4 yr contract with proviso that he groom a much younger (35-40) asst gm to take over at end of contract…its a win win with good man running show and we know his successor…stability is key….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ask West Virginia how it works when you hire an eventual replacement to work under another boss with the express understanding that in a couple years, the old boss will step down, and the young gun take over.

      It’s not a good model.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Reader Danny said this on the BN Facebook page, and I thought it deserved your eyes here (yet another reason you should “like” BN on Facebook – just sayin’):

    I really hope this is the baseball equivalent of those moments in tv and movies when someone is being irrationally mean to their pet / best friend in an attempt to make the right decision easier for them.

    The beautiful girl needs to get on that plane to Art School in Paris, so the boyfriend dumps her so that she can be happy.

    The loyal dog is going to be put-down by evil parents, so the young boy leaves him in the woods and shouts ‘get out of here! go away! get away from me!”

    Or, the hero has decided to stay around and detonate the bomb to save the young guys with so much life ahead of them. He screams at them and has to give some tough love to allow them to leave him behind.

    …you know the drill….

    I really hope this is Sternberg’s way of telling his loyal friend, Friedman that it’s time to move on to greener pastures.

    STERNBERG
    “Go! Get on out of here! [tears begin to stream down his cheek] You’re better than this! Get on! Please, just leeeeaave! We’re going to get vaporized! VAPORIZED, I say! Leave! Goooooooooooooooo!!!!!”

    FRIEDMAN gives a frightened and confused look, pleading for his friend to change his mind. But inside, FRIEDMAN knows the truth. With a lingering look back, he turns and goes. FRIEDMAN boards the plane to Chicago and flies into the clouds.

    • Wilbur

      Love it!!!

      Have Bruce Willis play the owner …
      Ben Afflec the young GM …

      Of course another movie knockoff could be “Good Theo Hunting”

      … that takes you down another whole line of quotes where the young genius can’t match the everyone’s expectations …

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        “Theo. It’s not your fault.”

        “Not you, Larry. NOT YOU!”

  • Bails17

    What is this…Old Yeller?  I am getting a bit misty eyed!  HA

  • http://Bleachernation Dan Ballard

    My only concern is that, It’s pretty easy to have good team after having the first pick in the draft and multiple picks in the first two rounds for ten years? It’s the same problem I have with Epstien and Cashman, Its easy to do with the number one and two payrolls in baseball every year. I do think Friedman has done more with the limitid resources that he has had to work with to fill holes. I would be just as happy with Hahn.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Random, salient point on the GM search from Bruce Levine’s chat today: Yom Kippur starts tomorrow at sundown, and doesn’t end until Sunday. If things aren’t hammered out with either Friedman or Epstein by sundown tomorrow, we might not hear anything until Sunday, so as not to make the announcement during Yom Kippur.

    That’s not to say either one of them is definitely the guy, but it’s just a caution not to freak out if we don’t have a final announcement by tomorrow evening.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Cubbie_Blue

    My point exactly Dan Ballard. I have trying to tell people this through out this process

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Cubbie_Blue

    Although i still want Theo in here, it is easier when u suck for a decade and get the top picks in each draft year in and year out. Theo would be a better fit for this club we are a large market with a starving fan base

  • Rob Samuelson

    I’d be happy with either Theo or Friedman, but as far as the B-team goes, why haven’t we heard anything about Texas’ assistant GM Thad Levine? He’s young, part of a winning organization that’s developed some very good pitching in recent years, and with that mega TV deal Texas signed, has experience with a big payroll (Beltre, etc.). That would seem to place him above Hahn, because besides one phenomenal year, the White Sox haven’t been much to write home about during his tenure as their assistant. Food for thought and all that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Levine’s is a name that does get included with the Cherington/DiPoto/Coppolella group. I suspect he’ll be/has been considered. As he should be. Thanks for bringing him back up – his name should be brought up more than it is.

  • die hard

    West Virginia not good analogy…..Look for instance at Apple and Steve Jobs who groomed his successor…

  • die hard

    Robin Ventura mgr of White Sox?…whats he thinking?

    • TWC

      “Robin Ventura will tell it like it is…hes old enough not to care what happens if so…Mr. Reinsdorf was burned by letting Ozzie run show…fool me once shame on–you know the rest”

      • Rancelot

        Are you describing Robin Ventura or Dick Tidrow? ;) By the way, somewhere in Texas, Nolan Ryan flexed his biceps.

  • Sayueri

    I’d rather have Epstein but Friedman keeps looking better and better. Plus, based on what we know and not just speculation, I’d say there’s a better chance of him being the Cubs next GM.

  • ty

    sox have gonads to hire Ventura who has zilch managerial experience and we have h,o,f, Sandberg with extensive experience and success and we may let the new G.m. hire one of his homies. I have to go lay down.

  • die hard

    No…Williams got his “yes sir” man….not good …..Back to the Cubs- I dont see Fleita taking orders from someone younger than him….

    • Boogens

      Not sure I agree with this comment. Flieta’s never struck me as a rebel. The next GM’s authority will come from the authority that TR initially grants him/her plus their own level of confidence, maturity and competency. I see no reason to think that either Theo or Friedman lacks any of those qualities.

      • TWC

        die hard is just trolling.  According to that asinine theory, the Cubs cannot hire anyone younger than 44 for GM.

        Oh, but wait.

        Tom Ricketts is 48.  Which means they can’t hire 64-year-old Dick Tidrow, because Dick Tidrow wouldn’t take orders from someone younger than him.

        Idiocy.

  • Vinestal

    If we get Freidman better hope we can get Gery Hunsicker as well since a great deal of their drafting success can be attributed to Hunsicker.

  • die hard

    then bypass Friedman and make Hunsicker GM..cut out the middleman

  • LouCub

    Per video on the Boston Globe website with Bobb Ryan and Dan Shaungnessy, it appears that John Hendry will adress the media on the Red Sox flagship tommorow,,,I hope we get Theo

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      7am CST on WEEI for those inclined to listen.

  • http://Bleachernation Bric

    To answer the question of why the Rays can’t attract fans, go see a game at the Trop.
    “You’d find more cheer in a grave yard”.
    Seriously, it’s like watching a little league game in a parking garage. BTW- can anybody name that quote?

    • Jeff

      The quotes from The Two Towers,  and I can attest to the Trop being the worst place to see a game in the majors.  There are at least two minor league stadiums in the area that are better ballparks.  Tampa needs to change things or they are going to have to move the team.

    • Lou

      Exactly.

  • philoe beddoe

    during Bruce Levines chat today he said that because of Yom Kippur they would do something early Friday…

    Brett, in your expert/have a tipster opinion, could things have been going on behind the scenes these last few days and they kept a lid on it?

    seems highly unlikely to me…

    my gut (or my internal negative Cub compass) tells me Theo stays

     

     

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I posted the Levine thing earlier in the comments …

      But, yeah, it’s definitely possible. In fact, probable – it’s not like everyone is just sitting on their hands through two days of silence. I hear non-specific (or, non-reportable) chatter that the Cubs are reaching out to other possible candidates this week (due diligence in case Theo doesn’t happen). And I’m sure the Sox are using this time to talk to Theo. It’s also possible that the interview has already happened (though I’ve heard nothing).

      So, yes – I think things have definitely been happening. But I agree with your gut that they probably aren’t BIG things, like an interview and deal with Epstein.

  • Mike

    The Globe thing is fascinating. Henry is addressing the media, alone. And it appears unlike the news conference where Lucchino, Epstein and others did the autopsy on their season, a real press conference and answered questions to the media, this isn’t that. It appears this Henry facing the Boston Red Sox TV affiliate alone. No Lucchino, and more importantly no Epstein. Maybe as they hint, two respected Boston reporters, there’s a reason he’s alone and not answering to the Boston media. Who knows maybe he wants to announce the signing to a long term deal, but I won’t be shocked if it’s to give the red sox nation the bad news.

    • Cubz99

      Where did you see that? The promo says that Lucchino will be there.

  • Mike

    One other note. It’s hard to keep secrets and really impressive how secret Ricketts has kept this thing. If indeed Theo Epstein is the guy, watch closely the Tribune site the next 24 hours. I don’t think this will drag on that long one way or another, could be next week, but for all the reasons, both Chicago and Boston, urgency has reached critical mass for all, and the longer it goes whether tomorrow or 4 days from now the more likely you can be it’s elsewhere. Who knows where the critical window is, but it’s damn close on this one. And honestly not just this one. Cashman and BB strike me as having too large of an ego to play second fiddle.

  • LouCub

    I’m listening to these 2 ahole RedSox owner and President on the live feed…I got a bad feeling about getting Theo, they keep talking about everything else.. and will talk about Theo “after the break”..This is bullshit, just answer!!!

    • Matt

      I wondered if anybody was out there listening. Just get to the point already. Nobody cares about what happened, we already know what happened. Get to the Theo talk!

Bleacher Nation Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Bleacher Nation is a private media site, and it is not affiliated in any way with Major League Baseball or the Chicago Cubs. Neither MLB nor the Chicago Cubs have endorsed, supported, directed, or participated in the creation of the content at this site, or in the creation of the site itself. It's just a media site that happens to cover the Chicago Cubs.

Bleacher Nation is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Google+