Posted on: October 19, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 6:42 pm

Epstein-to-Cubs announcement won't come soon

EpsteinBy Evan Brunell

With the World Series beginning, it looks as if the expected move of Theo Epstein becoming president of the Chicago Cubs will have to wait.

Commissioner Bud Selig does not like teams making announcements during the World Series, as it takes away from the focus on the Fall Classic. This was violated once before when Alex Rodriguez announced he was opting out of his contract with the Yankees during the 2004 World Series, causing tremendous backlash. You won't see the news of Epstein joining the Cubs happening until at least Friday, the first scheduled off-day of the World Series -- and perhaps not until the World Series ends entirely. Selig would have to allow the announcement on an off-day.

Holding up talks to put Epstein in Chicago is the price of compensation heading back to Boston for releasing Epstein from his contract, which has a year left remaining. Talks, by all indication, are cordial and progressing, but is slow-going because Boston is asking a high price, while Chicago is understandably trying to hang onto its most valuable assets. The latest rumor connected prospect Trey McNutt with the Red Sox. The righty pitched on Wednesday in the Arizona Fall League, a league that starts up in October and allows top prospects to play against each other. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings for the Mesa Sola Sox, giving up two earned runs on five hits and one walk, striking out just one. An additional two unearned runs scored off of McNutt.

In the meantime, Epstein is effectively functioning as Cubs GM despite being the official Red Sox GM, while lieutenant Ben Cherington has assumed the ropes in Boston and will be formally named Epstein's replacement once the boy wonder departs to Chicago. Part of the issue in discussions is which front-office people Epstein can take with him to Chicago. It's unclear who is going, but one name has surfaced in talks, ESPN Boston writes. That would be executive vice-president of business affairs, Jonathan Gilula. Gilula played a major part in the renovations at Fenway Park, and Epstein may be eyeing him to give a similar facelift to Wrigley Field. A source added that trainer Mike Reinold may also follow Epstein, but department heads on the baseball operations side will not leave. Epstein also may target Padres GM Jed Hoyer for a similar role in Chicago, or tap Hoyer's lieutenant, Josh Byrnes for the role. Both served under Epstein in Boston.

Catch up on all the Theo Epstein to Cubs madness here.

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Posted on: October 19, 2011 5:14 pm

Theriot feels 'different' vibe in Cards clubhouse

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Prior to joining the Cardinals, shortstop/second baseman Ryan Theriot had been to the playoffs twice, but his ballclub was swept both times. So before the Cardinals started the NLDS this October against the Phillies, Theriot was 0-6 in career playoff games. Of course, that was with the Cubs, who haven't won the World Series since the Teddy Roosevelt administration.

Upon being traded to the Cardinals this past offseason, Theriot drew the ire of Cubs fans when he remarked that he was finally "on the right side of the rivalry."

The funny thing is, the 2008 Cubs were awesome. Seriously. If you don't remember, they were 97-64 and the top seed in the NL. Their offense led the NL in runs and OPS. Their pitchers led the NL in strikeouts and ranked third in ERA. But they just gagged in the playoffs, getting swept by the Dodgers and generally playing terrible baseball -- errors, no control from the pitchers, etc.

World Series coverage
It just makes one wonder if the Cubs were pressing. It was the 100-year anniversary of the last World Series championship and they entered the playoffs as heavy favorites at least in the NL, probably even the World Series.

Having experienced this and now experienced winning two playoff series for a ballclub that last won it all in 2006, Theriot's a good person to ask about the locker room feel for both clubs.

"It's just ... different," he said. "Over there (Chicago in '08) it was a given that we were going to be (in the playoffs). Here, we had to win almost every game down the stretch and didn't really have time to think about pressure."

Were the Cubs pressing, or feeling the weight of the world in 2008?

"I don't know about all that," he said. "It's just ... again, different here."

Does it feel easier to play in a city that's enjoyed so much more success?

"It's just a completely different atmosphere," he said again.

He wouldn't say anything more, likely out of respect for that 2008 Cubs team, but his continued emphasis on the word "different" spoke volumes.

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Posted on: October 18, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:45 pm

Report: Epstein may steal GM Hoyer from Padres

HoyerBy Evan Brunell

The Cubs are considering stealing away GM Jed Hoyer from the Padres to work under Theo Epstein, SI.com is reporting.

Epstein is expected to become the new Cubs GM before long provided his current employer, the Red Sox, can agree on a compensation package to allow Epstein to depart to Chicago. Part of the issue is which of Epstein's assistants in Boston, if any, he would be allowed to take with him to Chicago. Given that Boston is playing hardball, it's possible Epstein may not be able to take anyone.

Hoyer (pictured) worked under Epstein for years in Boston and was co-GM in 2005 along with Ben Cherington, expected to be Epstein's replacement, for a month when Epstein briefly resigned as GM of the Red Sox. There's no indication that Hoyer would be interested in leaving his GM post for a lesser spot, but the fact that he's being considered is fascinating.

While there's a slim possibility of this happening, it's difficult to see. Hoyer is signed through 2013 and the move to Chicago would either be lateral or a step down from his current role. If Epstein joins the Cubs as president, as expected given moving from Boston GM to Chicago GM would be a lateral move, that does leave a GM spot open in Chicago, but why would San Diego let Hoyer out of his contract for a lateral move? Organizations can poach people from other clubs for promotions, but Hoyer departing for a demotion or lateral move would be unprecedented. You would think that if this came to pass, the Padres would ask compensation to allow Hoyer to depart.

If he did leave to Chicago, senior vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes -- also with connections to working under Epstein in Boston -- would take over as Padres GM. If Hoyer stays, Epstein is expected to target Byrnes as well as Padres assistant GM Jason McLeod, also formerly of the Red Sox.

Catch up on all the Theo Epstein to Cubs madness here.

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Photo: MLB.com.
Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:29 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 12:34 pm

Report: Red Sox targeting Cubs pitcher McNutt

McNuttBy Evan Brunell

As the Red Sox and Cubs continue talking about compensation for GM Theo Epstein, one name has filtered out as to whom Boston wants.

The Red Sox are reportedly focusing on starting pitching prospect Trey McNutt, a 22-year-old who is the best pitching prospect in Chicago's system but a clear step down from top prospect Brett Jackson, as CSNChicago.com writes. Jackson, a center fielder, has already been ruled out as potential compensation for Epstein, who is expected to be named Chicago's new GM in the next two days, prior to the World Series starting.

McNutt had blister problems in 2011 and finished with a 4.55 ERA in Double-A Tennessee over 95 innings. He struck out 65 and walked 39 a year after breaking out, splitting 2010 between two Class A levels and Double-A. All told, the righty punched out 132 batters in 116 1/3 minor-league innings last season, walking 37 and checking in with a 2.48 ERA in 25 starts.

Red Sox drama
McNutt was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2009 draft and wasn't highly regarded coming out of community college in Birmingham, Ala. Astros infielder Matt Downs is another active baseball player who came from the same college.

McNutt has a chance to be part of the rotation for the Cubs in 2012, which could scuttle discussions, but that's also the same reason why Boston would want McNutt. The Red Sox are severely lacking in upper-minors pitching depth and McNutt would be a major boost and could even potentially win the No. 5 starter's job out of spring training, although he more likely figures to be a late-season option.

Two prospects in total are expected to be part of the package heading to Boston.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 10:49 am

Epstein to Cubs 'inevitable,' talks continue

By Matt Snyder

The Cubs and Red Sox continue to discuss a compensation package for the Cubs poaching Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein with a year remaining on his contract. As of the last update the two sides were far apart, but it's been a few days, so let's take a look at how things have gone since then, according to various reporters from the Red Sox and Cubs beats.

Cubs/Red Sox drama
• At one point, talks were growing "increasingly contentious" between the two clubs, as Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was reportedly making things very difficult due to his now-fractured relationship with Epstein (CSNChicago.com), but several others have reported this wasn't accurate. Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the talks are "business-like, civil and moving forward."

• The Red Sox are asking for at least two of the Cubs' top prospects, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, but Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports top Cubs prospect Brett Jackson is not going anywhere.

• As things currently stand, no present Red Sox personnel will accompany Epstein to Chicago, reports Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe. As for former employees, that could be a different story. Tom Krasovic reports that former Red Sox assistant GM Josh Byrnes will likely join Epstein in Chicago. Byrnes was the general manager for the Diamondbacks from November of '05 through July of last season and is currently the vice president of baseball operations for the Padres.

• The World Series begins Wednesday and Major League Baseball won't allow any deals to be consummated during it, so there's a bit of a clock on this thing, unless both teams are OK with waiting until afterward (and that's not likely, as they surely want the drama to end very soon). Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has reported that a deal won't be completed this weekend, and Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports all signs are pointing to a deal being completed by the end of the day Tuesday.

WEEI.com reports a deal is "virtually inevitable" and that it's only a matter of time. So, realistically, it sounds like we should expect some sort of announcement Tuesday.

• Finally, the two clubs could be competing for the services of Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg as manager, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Epstein is once again the common thread here, as he tried to hire Sandberg to manage the Red Sox's Triple-A team this past winter. Sandberg had already taken the Phillies' Triple-A job, so it wasn't like he snubbed Epstein's advances. Many others in the Red Sox front office are said to like Sandberg, while Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is eager to repair the relationship with the former Cubs' second baseman -- who was snubbed by former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry last offseason for the managerial job in Chicago.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:13 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:48 am

Red Sox must fetch strong price for Theo Epstein

By Evan Brunell

With the departure of Theo Epstein, the Red Sox are faced with the most glaring void their organization has seen since the beginning of the franchise's recent upswing. And worse, it appears the only return they may get would be a paltry sum of cash or a couple of low-end players. And, even if those guys do contribute at the major-league level, they would be far from making up for the loss of a top-tier GM like Epstein.

Part of this reason, beyond the Cubs understandably balking at an exorbitant price -- they are trying to do their job, after all -- is that MLB is watching these discussions with a close eye, realizing that what occurs could set a precedent down the line for other similar GM defections. It appears as if baseball is trying to prevent GMs from being "traded" for anything close to free market value. Even managers have a difficult time of it, but at least there is precedent there, what with Ozzie Guillen shipped to the Marlins for three minor-league players and Lou Piniella going from Seattle to Tampa Bay for Randy Winn.

What is the problem here?

Why is baseball trying to prevent adequate compensation for Epstein? Moreover, why is it so bad for managers and GMs to be traded for equal value in return?

General managers have an incredible amount of responsibility on their shoulders and are forced to wear many hats. Not only do they have to juggle putting together a major-league team worthy of satisfying the fans and owners, they have to keep the farm system healthy, draft a new crop of players each season, negotiate contracts with players, coaches and scouts, maintain a budget and retain enough flexibility for future moves, and on and on. There's no question that a GM, these days, essentially shapes a franchise's present and future like no other person can, with lasting ramifications that can span years, if not decades.

And you're telling me that a GM can't be traded for an exorbitant price? Baseball may want to hold down GM compensation because it would add yet another layer of complexity to the proceedings, but is there any reason the Red Sox shouldn't be getting someone of commensurate value? Epstein not only completely and wholly changed the culture of the history of the Red Sox, he changed their status, market and player development. The boy wonder's accomplishments in Boston will bear fruit years after he's gone, and years after his successor, Ben Cherington, will be gone.

And somehow, accepting a reported $3.5 million or a couple tepid minor-league prospects is adequate compensation?

Cubs/Red Sox drama
Imagine, for a moment, if you transformed Epstein into a player on the Red Sox Who would he be? Would he be backup outfielder Darnell McDonald? Or would he be first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who will pull down an average annual salary north of $20 million?

Epstein's value is certainly far closer to Gonzalez than that of McDonald, and Sox president Larry Lucchino appears to understand that. He's submitted a list of players to the Cubs that he feels would be adequate compensation for Epstein's departure, and the latest reports have the Cubs blanching at the price.

But that's as it should be, and MLB shouldn't interfere and meddle with the affairs. By baseball trying to restrict compensation from Epstein, it's restricting a free trade market and is severely hampering Boston's ability to contend. And this is an issue that should be of concern not just in Boston, but in all 30 MLB cities. Paul DePodesta had the right idea back in 2003 when he asked for Red Sox prospect Kevin Youkilis in exchange for allowing GM Billy Beane to defect to the Red Sox before Beane changed his mind at the 11th hour.

Whether baseball likes it or not, the culture is slowly but surely marching toward a day where a GM's departure to another club will result in fair compensation, not a depressed price. Unfortunately for Boston, that day may not arrive in time to compensate for the man who changed baseball in Boston.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 10:42 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 4:14 pm

Reports: Red Sox, Cubs far away on compensation

By Matt Snyder

The big non-playoff story right now is easily the poaching of Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein by Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. Pretty much every reporter with sources around the Cubs and Red Sox has gotten word that Epstein has accepted a five-year deal to take over the Cubs. The title has yet to be revealed because the deal isn't yet official. The delay is that Epstein still has a year left on his contract and the Red Sox are seeking compensation from the Cubs for letting him walk.

Cubs/Red Sox drama
The assistant general managers -- Randy Bush for the Cubs and Ben Cherington for the Red Sox -- are doing the negotiating and then reporting to ownership before anything would be made official.

And after one day of negotiating, reports from both Boston and Chicago indicate the two sides are pretty far apart.

The Cubs only want to send money to the Red Sox, while the Red Sox are insistent on receiving back a package of players. The two sides reportedly didn't give much ground Thursday, so it's at a stand-still right now (Chicago Tribune).

The Boston Globe notes the Red Sox have interest in some of the few attractive prospects from the Cubs system, like Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, Alberto Cabrera, Jay Jackson and Trey McNutt. The Globe has also reported the Red Sox like major-league utility player Jeff Baker, but he alone wouldn't be enough. In that same entry, it is noted that the Red Sox would love the Cubs to take John Lackey and his gaudy contract, but that is very unlikely.

The Boston Herald says the Red Sox are looking for "something real" in return for Epstein.

So this might drag out for a little bit, but there was one tie that bound every report: There is no indication the deal has a chance to fall through. Eventually, Epstein is going to be headed to Chicago, with something going back to Boston in return. At least that's how things stand Friday, October 14. We'll see how it progresses.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:46 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 4:35 pm

Report: Cherington will be next Red Sox GM

By Matt Snyder

Red Sox offseason
As the details of Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein's departure are finalized, the next step in Boston will be to name a replacement. It appears that won't take very long and there likely won't be much of a transition. Assistant general manager Ben Cherington has been told he's going to be named the general manager, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo.

Cherington, 37, has ties with the Red Sox organization since 1997. He was then hired by the Indians in 1998, but brought back to the Red Sox in 1999. He has been Epstein's top assistant for the past three seasons. He previously served as a scout and director of player development. His ties to the Boston area are strong, too. He was born in New Hampshire, attended Amherst College and then got his Master's degree from the University of Massachusetts. Cherington also served as a co-GM along with Jed Hoyer back in 2005 while Epstein was on hiatus.

Epstein is still technically the Red Sox general manager and is under contract through 2012, but reports from pretty much every news outlet in the nation indicate he's agreed to a five-year contract with the Cubs and that the two clubs are negotiating some kind of compensation -- whether monetary, players or a combination of the two -- to get Epstein to Chicago. So it's basically a foregone conclusion that Epstein will soon be named the Cubs general manager (and probably more, such as the CEO) and, in turn, Cherington will be elevated in Boston.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com