This is what we know – Tom Ricketts has asked for permission to speak with Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein about the Cubs vacant GM position. No one from the Red Sox ownership triumvirate of John Henry, Tom Werner or Larry Lucchino have commented on the request. Epstein himself has declined any comment as well. Red Sox ownership and Epstein continue to make statements about their own search for the new manager of the Red Sox for the 2012 MLB season and beyond, so it’s unclear when they will respond to Ricketts. Maybe they already have and we just don’t know about it yet.
If the Red Sox were to grant Epstein permission to talk to the Cubs, it could be made with a stipulation that the Cubs make some compensation to the Red Sox if he does take a job with the Cubs. Rumors that the Red Sox want something in return for allowing the Cubs to speak with Epstein are blown out of proportion. In my opinion, it seems unlikely that Theo would want to leave his hometown to take over a Cubs roster that looks like the glorified roster of a good varsity team. But the Cubs could offer Epstein a position similar to that of Dave Dombroski with the Detroit Tigers where Epstein would control all baseball decisions as the GM and also serve as a quasi-team-president. Epstein is simply the GM with the Red Sox. Epstein brought 2 World Series titles to Boston after an 86-year drought. If he did the same for the Cubs in Chicago, he would go down as one of the greatest modern-day GM’s.
In addition to Epstein, Andrew Friedman’s name has popped up as a baseball man at the top of Ricketts’ list. The Rays have a small market payroll, yet Friedman continues to pull together teams that have made the playoffs 3 out of the last 4 seasons. Before the end of the Rays playoff run to the Rangers, Friedman made these comments: “Right now, it’s almost embarrassing for the topic of conversation to be about me and not on our players, not on what we’ve accomplished over the last four years, even more specifically over the last month or the last two innings of Wednesday’s game (a win over the Yankees that propelled the Rays into the playoffs on the last day of the regular season)… I understand it goes with the territory, and at the end of the season, when we’re done playing, it’s obviously something I’ll address. But right now, all of my focus is on this team.” Now that the Rangers have eliminated the Rays, it will be interesting to see what Friedman has to say about the Cubs vacant GM position.
The Cubs would be smart to make a hard play for both Friedman and Epstein, both of whom have shown that they know how to build a team to win and win now. Throw in the fact that each team is in the division with the unlimited payroll of the New York Yankees and that they still have what it takes to win gives another indication that both of these guys would be great fits to work with Ricketts to finally make the Cubs relevant again…