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Tom Ricketts is a savvy businessman, and he’s not sitting still in the face of Red Sox intransigence.

From Jon Heyman (who, yes, I know, has hardly been a model of accuracy throughout this process):

In a possible surprise twist, the Chicago Cubs and Theo Epstein are said to have interest in Padres general manager Jed Hoyer to join a baseball operations department they hope is headed soon by Epstein, who is waiting in limbo while the Cubs and Red Sox resolve the compensation issue to complete the trade that would put Epstein in charge of Chicago’s beloved North Side team.

It’s uncertain how the Padres would react to the Cubs interest in Hoyer but if he is able to go to Chicago, Byrnes would be elevated to GM.

A move by Hoyer, 37, would be seen as fairly shocking since he’s already a GM, but perhaps the Cubs could give him the same title, while making Epstein a president. Nothing is known to be finalized yet, and it could still be Byrnes going to Chicago, but the possibility that it could be Hoyer instead was raised by several people familiar with the talks.

Hoyer’s is a name that was a surprising omission in the first round of GM rumors. After all, he is a young, sabermetrics-and-development-inclined GM, cut from the same cloth as Theo Epstein (indeed, the two worked together in Boston (with Josh Byrnes, whose name has come up frequently)). San Diego is a wonderful city, but few would argue that the GM job in Chicago is a slightly better gig than heading up the Padres. It probably pays better, too.

You don’t need me to tell you that inking Hoyer (or Byrnes) soon would be tremendously beneficial to the Cubs in their compensation discussions with the Red Sox. With someone like Hoyer (or Byrnes (before you ask, it seems highly unlikely that the Padres would let both Hoyer and Byrnes go (is that enough embedded parentheticals for you?))) already in place, the Cubs could comfortably wait the Red Sox out.

Not to mention the fact that the Cubs would then be headed towards one of the best front offices (on paper) in baseball, with Hoyer/Byrnes as GM and Epstein as President of Baseball Operations.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least suggest that this is an intentional leak coming from the Cubs, designed to put pressure on the Red Sox. “See, Red Sox? We don’t need Theo immediately. We’d be fine waiting a year for him if we had to. We’ve got a stud GM in place. Enjoy your $7 million mail delivery boy.” Also, keep in mind that there could be a compensation issue involved in bringing Hoyer over to a lateral position – but let’s keep our heads wrapped around one compensation battle at a time.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that these machinations align almost perfectly with the suggestion I made on Saturday – namely, that the Cubs try to line up a “back-up” GM now, someone who wants to work in a Theo-led front office regardless of his precise role. The Cubs would be hard pressed to find a better option in that role than someone like Hoyer, or someone like Byrnes.

  • MrCubs73

    The Theo to the Cubs negotiations maybe further along than everyone seems to believe. I would bet there is more common ground than we know at this point, but will not know until after the World Series. I have said it before, but if I were betting I would go all in on Vitters going to the Sox.

    If I were in Boston management, I would want to get this deal done ASAP. Reason, you never know when someone may drop a leak that could be damaging to the rep of Theo. Not that the drinking in the dugout is not bad enough. Everyday, there is something new that comes out of Boston, so it only makes you wonder what is next.

    I wish there were legs to the CSN report about Crawford being a possibility, although I seriously doubt that one. If the Sox would take Soriano, give them the right handed bad Henry says they need, and give the Cubs the left handed bat with speed they need. It’s too easy and makes to much sense to actually happen. Although, Crawford don’t even fit in the Red Sox line up.

    Unfortunately, we all get to wait.

  • ACS

    Got you brett I could put this team in the playoffs I can see who the top dogs are. You do a wonderful job but there is always greener grass on the other side of the fence once again I enjoy your post.

  • Mike

    I think that’s the real point. Who knows for sure, but I tend to believe they are further apart than most think, and it’s simple as to why. It’s in the best interest of the two teams and to a lesser extent baseball to end this thing. More importantly, given that it’s becoming very clear, Ricketts is promoting Theo to President and is likely then to hire a name as a GM, it’s equally clear, I really doubt that’s it’s just Trevor, if it were I think a deal would be done. It’s likely there dealing with excessive demand like 3 or 4 not 2 and not just McNutt. It’s also likely this is a moving target.

    But the real cogent thing, and most problematic is something you captured. It’s not one thing in the toxic waste dump formerly known as Boston, it’s the death by a 1000 cuts. And it’s a likelihood, if not before, then certainly after Lucchino settles, he will go whorishly nuclear on the Cubs and Ricketts. So you will ultimately have a guy damaged, the media who says you didn’t do enough and quickly enough to bring this thing to a resolution and the belief you overpaid. The only way to ultimately end this and protect your desired asset is to call their bluff and mean it. To this extent, Ricketts move to leak the story about Hoyer is a good one. He just needs to personally deliver the bad news to Boston he’s willing to move on and this will either end, or they will prove they are “ignorant” toilet paper that are just not playing games. I like Theo, think he’s a huge asset, but sometimes fate intervenes to save you. While we all want Theo, are we absolutely sure Hoyer isn’t a better choice. If we are willing to pursue other options and stick Boston with their mess of their own making this con will end, one way or another.

    But absent a tough line, one way or another Lucchino is going to burn Theo in the same cowardly fashion he is the club and Tito, it’s coming and it’s clearly his intent.

  • ACS

    This is a good team that lost 91 games.

    • T C

      uhhhhh OK then….generally, those two things do not go together at all

       

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      If by “this is a good team that lost 91 games” he means that this team should be better than the 91 losses they put up and are not as far from being at least in wild card contention as the record would indicate… I would have to agree. Even if the Cubs fill most or all of their openings with young guys next year, I think the Cubs should be back at .500. They are only ten wins shy of that now, and don’t think those ten wins will be hard to come by.

      A full season of the 4 and 5 starters, and not the cobbled together mess we had this season: +5 wins.
      Improved defense (just from more experience on the infield, no more Ramirez, maybe less of Soriano): +2 wins.
      Marmol pitching more consistently (he seems to pitch better with regular work) : +2 wins (from fewer blown saves).
      Anyone other than Mike Quade as manager: +1 win (I think I’m conservative on that one).

      That’s +10 wins and a record of 81-81. Granted, there are lot of things that could happen in the off season that could change this… how to replace Ramirez’s offense, what happens if Dempster opts out, what if Soriano can’t be moved, what if Mike Quade comes back, who signs as a free agent, what trades could be made, etc… but the Cubs being back at .500 with essentially this same team is not all that unbelievable.

      I think the Cubs are better than their record indicates, and in that sense, they sort of are a good team that lost 91 games. Maybe “a not bad team that lost 91 games” would be a better statement, but so long we all agree that they should be a better team, that’s just semantics anyway.

      • Jeff

        They might have the potential to reach .500, but that is the ceiling of this team.  In your post alone, you talk about replacing two starting pitchers and dumping at least Ramirez, possibly Soriano.  That’s a different team than the one that played this year, so you can’t really make a bunch of changes to the team and then say they should be better, because that’s just a result of the changes, not an effect of this being a good team. .  They could keep things as they are, sign Fielder and CJ Wilson, and be a better team next year, but that’s not the ultimate goal.

  • http://TheoWaiting Cheryl

    The sooner the tough line is delivered to Lucchino the better for all involved. Is it possible that Theo could be placed in a completely different position – senior advisor and consultant after he takes early retirement this year. He could take a year off, come back in in 2012 and be completely out of baseball until then. Probably wouldn’t work, but people can retire at an early age and then do what they want.

  • LouCub

    Ken Rosenthal twittered just twittered about the Theo for Cubs Pres and that he’s been working behind the scenes in search of his GM…Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes mentioned..was listening to the mlb on XM and they had the guy on who covers the Pads for mlb.com Brock I think was his last name, said that Hoyer would be more likely and Josh Byrnes would take his place in SD because Byrnes and Pads owner Jeffery Moorad are tight like “father and son” and Moorad also hired Byrnes in AZ…He also mentioned John McLeod coming from San Diego another former BoSox employee and an “up and comer” who theCubs could offer another promotion to in their front office..Brett, I think you mentioned him recently as well as a possibility.

  • Mike

    Is this a good team, well in the sense that you put the talent, coaching and all the pieces together, no they aren’t. But when you take out one of the worst if not worst managers in baseball, clearly the guy is a terrible handler of pitchers and not very bright when it comes to situational hitting, you probably account for 5-7 losses a year, especially when you throw in Riggins. Add in Marmol and Quady’s approach to saves, you add in another 5-7 games that were left on the table. Finally, if Theo adds a quality guy in CF who gets the ball and hits 260-265 and improves his middle of the IF defense, all of a sudden, you’ve improved the entire outlook and are 500 or better and a competitive ball club. Then it’s a matter of the right approach, maybe it’s behind the plate, maybe it’s on the mound or maybe it’s just a lucky pitcher or two. I really believe as we are beginning to see, Theo and Ricketts are talking about a 2 tier approach win now and win and build long term. In other words build a tradition of excellence.

    Are they going to be contender for the World Series next season or 2013, probably not, but they aren’t as bad as Quade and some of the mistakes make them appear. And for a barren piss poor farm system we have been led to believe two things are clear. Boston has more than enough names to try to torture the Cubs over and there is some major league talent to maybe build and fill in around. There’s clearly a lot of interest around the league to become involved with the Cubs, and that doesn’t occur with helpless teams we have been led to believe the Cubs are. Once they find away to rid themselves of Zambrano, Ramirez and Soriano, they will be better by subtraction.

  • Mike

    There’s an apparent new ray of hope that resolution may occur. I’m certain Brett will be even more on top of this. Besides the stories of Rosenthal that Theo actively is searching for a GM etc, something he wouldn’t do as a lawyer if there isn’t a resolution in sight, reports out of Boston source Red Sox personnel as wanting to bring this to an end before the start of the World Series and are said to be disappointed they couldn’t conclude it last night. Translation if they can get value, something slightly more than the Marlins, they want to move on, ass deep in an alligator pen of their own making on other fronts. There even suggestions he may already be in Chicago awaiting completion so they can announce it several places. All of this is good news, especially if he is already working to bring in Hoyer who appears more likely than Byrnes at present. Ricketts has done a very impressive job thus far.

    • Fishin Phil

      Agree with you Mike, Ricketts is impressing the hell out of me.  Just finished reading Mooney’s article at CSN, and I am so excited I could just pee myself.  Once this machine gets rolling, there is no reason the Cubs can’t dominate the NL Central for decades to come.

  • Jeff

    So, Josh Vitters hasn’t played since Friday.  Is there anything to that, or did he tweak his ankle too?

  • Sayueri

    I hope there’s a resolution soon. Hopefully today. I’m tired of waiting on the Sox to stop being idiots.

  • Fishin Phil

    Brett is either sleeping in, or working on a BIG story….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Just a long one. So many Theo bullets…

  • jstraw

    So now Ricketts DOES need a baseball man to oversee his baseball men? Nuh uh. Theo as GM AND head of baseball OPS, maybe. Theo as head of baseball ops and a separate GM? I’ll believe that one when I see it happen.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Could be that this kind of setup was the only way Ricketts could get Theo – and, if true, I’d say being flexible, even if it meant going against his previous statement, was the right move.

      (Separately, it’s all kind of academic – whether Theo is the President and Byrnes is the GM, for example, or Theo is GM and Byrnes is an Assistant GM, the point is that Theo is the guy reporting to Tom. It’s all about getting the most bright minds into the front office.)

      • Hawkeye

        I remember hearing that Theo was getting burned out of the day to day work of a GM some time ago.   I am guessing one of the big lures away from Chicago was stepping away from they busy work, while still maintaining control with a President title.   If Theo was going to continue to have to do all the GM grunt work, then he may have been more apt to stay in Boston.   Kudos to Tom for doing what it took to get him in terms or titling.

      • jstraw

        I’m not so sure that it’s academic. A GM is a GM…or wants to be. These guys all have ideas and egos and I would imagine that Byrne’s role is something he’d see quite differently with the GM title than the Assistant GM title. No one has a big enough hard on to work for Theo not to chafe at being named GM and then getting treated as an assistant. I’m not saying that would happen, My guess would be that in that scenario, Theo would be the big picture guy and the GM would get to function as a GM should.

        It may be that Theo wants to move up…that he really doesn’t want to be a GM anymore and if doesn’t want to be one, while he would certainly bring a lot to the party, it still would leave Ricketts in the position to have to respect chain of command when he wanted to have words with his GM. As I said, this may happen but I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m skeptical.I think it’s posturing in order to prod this negotiation. My guess is still Theo as GM and Head of BB-Ops and one or two great assistants.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          It is definitely possible that this is all just intentional leaking to help with the Red Sox discussions. “We’ll be fine without Theo for a year, we’re already talking to top GM candidates.”

        • Hawkeye

          I am going to stray from your thoughts, and go with Theo as PBO with a great GM and great AGMs.   I guess only time will tell….hopefully.

        • Fishin Phil

          Being skeptical is part of the Cub Fan code.  Totally understood.

  • Montellew

    Big Story! BIG STORY! C’monnnnnnnnnn Big Story! Please say the deal is DONE!

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  • Mike

    Makes a hell of a lot of sense. Obviously Ricketts is wanting to build tradition of winning and changing a culture. I sense he’s truly committed. but beyond that Epstein really only presents one risk, he’s possibly frustrated and needs a new challenge and needs to have an organization around him. I see no reason either Hoyer or Byrnes would come for less than a real position. Maybe I’m the one the few, but I get the sense this is not a spur of the moment thing and just a long term deal either. It could be a very interesting thing. Commitment to winning now and in the long term. world class organization and owner who is actually more of a stable version of Cuban than any of us ever thought possible. I take it as encouraging that they are expanding the front office and won’t be shocked if they assume Soriano’s salary and expand the payroll if people they want are available. Ricketts certainly gives all the signs of a guy who is thought more about this than most thought and is absolutely all in on winning.

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