With each passing minute, the odds that a surprise Theo Epstein announcement will come down before the start of the World Series (tonight) are growing infinitesimal. But that doesn’t mean it might not still happen this week.
- Indeed, multiple sources today are confirming yesterday’s suggestions (did you catch that? things start as suggestions, and become confirmations, apparently) that the Cubs and Red Sox could introduce their new President and GM, respectively, on Friday’s World Series off-day. A possible hiccup to that plan, as I see it? MLB is still hoping to have its new labor agreement finalized this week for potential announcing on … Friday. I doubt Bud Selig would want to allow that kind of double-duty in the middle of the World Series.
- But, such an announcement remains pending the Cubs and Red Sox finally putting a compensation agreement together for Epstein. To that end, Peter Gammons was on WEEI radio today to discuss those talks, and, in doing so, Gammons apparently anointed himself an expert on the Chicago Cubs’ farm system. Among Gammons’ pearls of wisdom: “everyone involved knows the Cubs are a bottom three farm system,” “Trey McNutt would be Red Sox prospect [number] 25,” and suggested the Cubs are acting like they don’t want to “give up the next Billy Williams.” Gammons has always been a Boston homer, but this goes beyond the pale. Couple this with his earlier comments that Wrigley Field is a “dump,” and I’m thinking he’s not engendering a whole lot of support in the Chicago area these days.
- Jon Paul Morosi said a source told him the compensation talks were “progressing well” as of this morning. Whatever that means, I guess it’s … good?
- You’ll note that, in the first bullet, I labeled Epstein as the Cubs’ prospective president. That is the prevailing opinion, though it remains important to note: the Cubs have plenty to gain in negotiations with the Red Sox by spreading word that they’re looking at Epstein only as a president-level employee, and are hard at work vetting potential GMs. It could still play out that Epstein is the “President of Baseball Operations and General Manager.”
- But, as I said, that’s not the prevailing opinion. Multiple sources say the Cubs are focusing their “GM search” on the San Diego Padres, home to a handful of Epstein’s friends and former coworkers. Padres’ blogger Tom Krasovic thinks Jon Heyman’s report on the Cubs looking at Padres’ GM Jed Hoyer has legs. If Hoyer leaves for the Cubs, Krasovic thinks he’ll take scouting and development chief (and Theo Epstein’s best friend) Jason McLeod along with him, leaving Josh Byrnes to take over as GM of the Padres.
- Speaking of Heyman (I know, I know), he says he’s heard further confirmation about the Cubs’ interest in Hoyer since his report yesterday. Bruce Levine says a couple sources confirmed the report to him, as well. My gut still says Byrnes is more likely than Hoyer (and I don’t want to rule out other possible GM candidates like Rick Hahn), but – just as the way things started with Epstein – the smoke is building.
- Even the San Diego Union Tribune concedes that at least one Padres executive is “likely heading to the Cubs,” but it’s up in the air who of Hoyer-Byrnes-McLeod would be leaving. Padres’ CEO Jeff Moorad said he would generally prohibit his contracted employees from interviewing for lateral moves, but no one knows if he’d take that hardline stance with respect to Hoyer (GM to GM). With respect to Byrnes and McLeod, they would, presumably, be up for promotions with the Cubs.
- For his part, Hoyer isn’t saying much: “I’m not going to comment on speculation,” said Hoyer. “We are concentrating on hiring a hitting coach. We had an interview Tuesday and Monday and are doing two more today.”
- Sound like a familiar “denial”? Here was Epstein’s initial response to Cubs’ rumors, back on August 31: I try to avoid commenting on things that are so speculative. 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.” Smoke. I’m just saying. Smoke.