Tag:Theo Epstein
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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Posted on: October 13, 2011 10:08 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 10:14 am

Cubs' job attractive, future options plenty

By Matt Snyder

Congratulations, Theo Epstein, on likely landing the new gig of Cubs president, CEO, general manager, czar, savior, curse-breaker and deity. In addition to all those millions of dollars, you now inherit a mess of a franchise. The good news is that statement only exists in the present and very near future. Things can be cleaned up rather quickly. Here's why:

• It's funny to read all over the place about how the Cubs have so many awful contracts and are so much more handcuffed on payroll than Epstein is used to. The fact of the matter is that only Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol are signed past 2012, along with the young players who will still be under team control and don't make much. And then Marmol's contract expires after 2013. Depending on arbitration raises and possible extensions (Matt Garza, maybe?) the Cubs are shedding somewhere in the ballpark of $50 million from their 2011 payroll. Come 2013, as things currently stand, only $28.8 million is committed (to Soriano and Marmol). In 2014, only Soriano's absurd $19 million salary is still on the books, but by 2015, there's nothing left.

• My guess is it's true, for now, that Epstein is likely going to be told to not exceed a figure like $135 million with his payroll and that is a good amount less than the Red Sox's current figure. But here's the mitigating factor: The Cubs are in the NL Central, where they easily have the largest market and revenue stream in the division. In Boston, Epstein was trying to keep up financially with the mighty Yankees. In the Chicago, his biggest competitor in terms of market size is Houston -- which is departing for the AL soon -- and in terms of revenue stream it's St. Louis. The Cubs have the resources to be the "big boy" in the division, which wasn't possible for Epstein in Boston.

• Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has already shown a significant commitment to player development. The Cubs spent a huge amount of money on the 2011 draft and they are building a state of the art academy in the Dominican Republic. They are looking to make major upgrades to Arizona's spring training facility, which would serve as a type of home base for player development. The Cubs also have a great reputation for international scouting. Put simply, Ricketts has noticed the biggest problem for the Cubs has been a system that doesn't regularly churn out its own prospects and he has done everything he can to rectify that issue in the short term.

So, that's why the job was attractive, but there's no doubt there's a lot to be done. This is a team that went 71-91 and has a pretty lackluster level of talent in the upper levels of the minors -- not to mention the aging major-league roster.

As every franchise faces when trying to make a losing team into a winning team, there are three distinct routes that can be taken. Let's take a look at each and get specific.

Cubs/Red Sox drama
Route 1: The Complete Rebuild
Don't pick up the options for Ryan Dempster or Aramis Ramirez. Trade younger veterans of value like Geovany Soto, Sean Marshall and Matt Garza. Do whatever it takes to off-load Alfonso Soriano's contract. Do the same with Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Marmol and Marlon Byrd might land decent returns, so they would also be traded. Don't re-up with any veterans like Kerry Wood. Just completely revamp the entire farm system and build around Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner. Then tell everyone they need to be patient, as the goal is to grow the system from the foundation and start competing in 2014.

Chances this happens:
Decent to good, for at least part of this. Epstein very well may start completely slow and see how things pan out with several different young players. I do think he would keep Garza with Castro and Cashner and then start to pounce on free agents starting next offseason.

Route 2: The Chips to the Center of the Table
Re-up with Dempster and Ramirez. Do what it takes to sign Prince Fielder and C.J. Wilson, including backloading deals to make the budget work. Move Starlin Castro to second base and sign Jose Reyes (again, backloading). Grab someone like Javier Vazquez, Chris Young or Joel Pineiro to fill out the rotation. That means the starting nine would be: Soto, Fielder, Castro, Reyes, Ramirez, Soriano, Byrd and probably Bryan LaHair. The starting rotation could be: Wilson, Garza, Dempster, Vazquez and Randy Wells. That leaves Andrew Cashner -- who is hitting triple digits on the radar gun in the Arizona Fall League -- to be the closer. Marmol can stay in the bullpen and hope to work on his control. Wood, Marshall and Jeff Samardzija would be the setup men.

Chances this happens:
Ridiculously slim. Actually, zero. Epstein isn't a moron and this would be absurd for the long-term health of the franchise, especially considering the team probably still wouldn't be good enough to win even an NLDS, if it made it. There's no depth, either, since the high levels of the minors don't have a lot of help coming. And could Epstein even get all those guys if he tried? Finally, the band-aid-on-a-broken-leg approach got Jim Hendry fired, so there's no way Tom Ricketts would hire Epstein to do the same thing.

Route 3: The Combination
I often chuckle when people think you absolutely have to choose either Route 1 or Route 2. In a small market, yes, you have to completely rebuild and hope all the young players get good at the same time, like the Royals appear to have happening in 2013 or 2014. In a large market, the resources are there to do both. Epstein developed the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Dustin Pedroia while also making trades for veterans and signing big-name free agents in Boston. It's a much bigger project this time around, but the goal can be to do something similar in Wrigley. While the farm system is being revamped for the Cubs, an effort can be made to start allowing the aging veterans to leave via free agency while players like Soto, Marshall, Marmol, and Dempster (with him, it's a one-year option and there will be enough money to retain him) can be kept around. Wood can be re-signed for another one-year, $1.5 million contract. And then you can fill holes with younger free agents. C.J. Wilson? Pass on him and keep your eyes on that 2013 pitching free agent class that could contain Matt Cain, John Danks, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, James Shields and more. A 27-year-old Prince Fielder? Yes, please. The Reyes signing mentioned above, with moving Castro to second? Nope. Not now. Try Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija in the rotation? Yes and maybe. Give LaHair a shot in right field, absolutely. He had a huge 2011 season in both Triple-A and then hit the ball well in his short time in the majors. Do you think about promoting center-field prospect Brett Jackson and trading Byrd midseason? Sure, if the Cubs aren't in the race. The whole point is that, ideally, with this plan, you'd put a team together for 2012 that appears to be average, giving it the chance to overachieve and sneak into the playoffs -- but the eyes are certainly on 2013 being the turnaround year. From there, you strive to compete for the World Series title every ensuing season.

Chances this happens:
I feel like this is the most likely route. The main benefit is you don't completely punt 2012 after getting the fan base excited with the big-name hire. In the complete rebuild model, you're liable to lose 100 games and kill fan morale instead of capitalizing on all the excitement. And in the win now model, there just isn't enough there to bring it all together in one offseason. So here we are. Here, you can have a mildly successful 2012 season while getting the fans excited for a bright future. All the moves above are just examples of what can be done, as the plan can be the same but be done with totally different moves.

But this is all purely speculation -- and fun, as is all hypothetical talk -- as the only person who really knows what is going in on Epstein's head right now is Epstein himself.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 5:07 pm

Epstein's track record screams winner

By Matt Snyder

In light of the recent movement that Theo Epstein is very close to becoming the general manager (or more) for the Chicago Cubs, let's try to balance things out a bit.

The amount of blame being placed on Epstein for bad contracts and recent failure in Boston is deafening if you look at our CBSSports.com message boards, Twitter and elsewhere on the web. That's what happens when there is an open forum, and it's fine. All opinions are encouraged here and when the Red Sox collapsed like they did in September, it's only natural that the GM has to shoulder a large portion of the blame.

But all the hate and concentration on the failures is completely ignoring the good he did at Boston. So, just in case you've all forgotten, here are the good things he did in Boston:

• In terms of player development, the following current Red Sox were drafted and developed on Epstein's watch: Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard. Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester were in the low levels of the minors when Epstein took over. So by no means did the Red Sox of the past decade only "spend" to win. They developed stars internally, too. 

• Yes, the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez to get Josh Beckett. But do the Red Sox win it all in 2007 without Beckett? Nope. And don't forget, Mike Lowell came to the Red Sox in that trade, too. And if you want to blame Epstein for trading Ramirez, you can't. He was on hiatus at the time.

• Epstein traded for Curt Schilling after the 2003 season. There is no way Boston wins it all in '04 without Schilling anchoring the rotation.

• Epstein picked up David Ortiz and Kevin Millar off the scrap heap. Things seemed to work out well after both of those signings.

Epstein to Cubs?
• Epstein had the stones to deal All-Star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra in 2004 -- coincidentally to the Cubs -- replacing him with Orlando Cabrera and shoring up the defense with Doug Mientkiewicz at first base. The Red Sox would go on to win the World Series that season.

• Prior to 2004, the Red Sox were going with a closer-by-committee approach. Epstein scrapped that and signed Keith Foulke, who recorded 32 saves, a 2.13 ERA and the final out of the World Series in 2004.

• Time will tell if Epstein won the Adrian Gonzalez trade, but he gave up two 21-year-old prospects and a throw-in to acquire an elite first baseman on a team ready to compete now. That's a no-brainer. You have guys who might be great or might not pan out versus a player who is already great. 

• In nine seasons in Boston, Epstein's Red Sox went to the playoffs six times -- coming from the best division in the majors -- and won the World Series twice. Boston had won the World Series zero times since 1918 before he took the job. Even if you want to ignore everything above, I don't know how you can look at the track record in this bullet point and act like he's not a good general manager.

Add it all up, and he's nothing less than a winner. Painting a picture otherwise is ignoring the whole story.

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Posted on: October 12, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: October 13, 2011 10:23 am

Report: Epstein accepts 5-year deal with Cubs

By Matt Snyder

We have yet another step toward what appears to be the inevitable. Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is still under contract with the team through 2012 and nothing is official yet, but with each passing minute, it becomes more apparent he's going to be the Cubs next GM.

The latest is that he has agreed to a five-year, $15 million deal with the Cubs, per WEEI.com. This report states the deal will be finalized by the end of the week and that the Cubs have not yet decided on a title for Epstein. It also notes the final holdup in negotiations: Compensation for the Red Sox, which will likely be some combination of money and prospect(s).

The Boston Globe is reporting
Epstein has accepted the offer and that while it's still possible for Epstein to change his mind, it's a near-certainty that he's off to Chicago. The Globe also adds that, as expected, Red Sox assistant GM Ben Cherington is expected to be named Epstein's replacement in Boston.

Taking in the entire buzz from reporters on Twitter Tuesday night, expect Epstein to be named something like President and CEO. Compensation is reportedly going to be one or two prospects, maybe even high-level ones, but no major-league players.

Epstein to Cubs?
Epstein, 37, was named the Red Sox general manager after the 2002 season. Under his watch, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 after previously having not won it since 1918. Epstein grew up in the Northeast and attended Yale University, so he had ties to the Boston area anyway, but recent reports have indicated he might be looking for a new challenge.

The Cubs offer up that challenge. Not only have the Cubs not won the World Series since 1908, but the franchise doesn't appear close to being competitive right now, with a bad major-league product and not much more in the organizational pipeline. Then again, there is more than $50 million in salary coming off the books this season and even more coming off after next season. With a rabid fan base desperately seeking a title and lots of resources at hand, Epstein could very well become the man who broke two alleged curses (first, the Bambino, second, the Billy Goat).

This is still not a done deal, but it would be pretty shocking if it fell apart now. Things have progressed to a point where Epstein seems sealed and delivered to Wrigley Field.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 7:19 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:35 am

If Theo's out, new BoSox GM must come from inside

Cherington, Hoyer, Lucchino

By Evan Brunell

A report has revealed that Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is expected to join the Cubs as GM by Oct. 13. While roadblocks still remain, such as what type of compensation the Red Sox will receive for letting Epstein out of his contract, it's time to take a look ahead at who could potentially step into Epstein's large shoes in Boston.

With Epstein's departure, you can certainly bet on team president Larry Lucchino gaining more power in baseball operations after losing it due to a much-publicized clash with Epstein in October 2005 that briefly saw the GM leave his position as Red Sox GM. In Epstein's absence back in 2005, Lucchino tabbed assistant GMs Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer as co-GMs in Epstein's stead, and Lucchino needs to make a similar move this time around. (Photo: Cherington, Hoyer, Lucchino from left to right in 2005.)

There are really only two clear candidates for the GM job internally -- that being Cherington and assistant to the GM Allard Baird, who formerly ran the ship in Kansas City. Boston needs to stay internal because the internal processes Epstein set up are the reason why the Red Sox have become a powerhouse and a player-development machine. That was the strength of Epstein, thanks to his hours of experience in player development and maximizing resources in San Diego. What Epstein pulled off top-to-bottom in the organization can not only not be ignored, but must be carried through. Who better than Cherington or Baird to see that process through?

Cherington actually precedes Epstein in Boston, hired by the Red Sox in 1999 by then-GM Dan Duquette after serving as an advance scout for the Indians. Throughout his time in Boston, Cherington has gained a reputation for being similar to Epstein in that he understands and embraces the value of statistical analysis, but also realizes the value of scouts -- one would certainly hope so given his background in that area.
Cherington spoke more about the blend of stats and scouting earlier this season to MLB Trade Rumors:
You can blend appropriately information from those two extremes. Depending on the player and the circumstances, you may lean more on one than the other. Obviously if you’re evaluating a 16-year-old in the Dominican, you don’t have a lot of hard performance history, so you’re going to rely more on subjective evaluation. 

As you get closer to the big leagues, the more performance history you have and the more you can incorporate that into the projection for the player. And you factor in other information like their health, contract situation, etc. 

That’s what Theo strove for from the very get-go. From the day he took the general manager’s job, he did not want the Red Sox to be a quantitative-driven baseball ops department, he didn’t want it to be a subjective, traditional scouting-driven baseball operations department, he wanted to do both.

However, Lucchino may prefer a GM who doesn't consider Epstein his "mentor," given the clashes Epstein and Lucchino had. When Epstein resigned back in 2005, Lucchino seemed eager to interview Jim Beattie for the opening, a former failed Expos and Orioles GM that hasn't gotten any whispers of returning to a GM job since. That doesn't make one terribly optimistic about Lucchino's ability to judge a viable GM moving forward, but Baird may provide the perfect blend for Lucchino.

Baird, 12 years Epstein's senior, was also a failed GM like Beattie in Kansas City, but many in the game don't hold it against him as it has since come to light that he was handcuffed by owner David Glass in many of his errors. Some of Baird's notable disasters in K.C. include trading away Johnny Damon, Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye for minimal return. But since being with the Sox, he's worn many hats and has been one of Epstein's most trusted confidantes.

Unlike Boston's managerial search, which could benefit from an outside voice, Boston needs to stay internal with the GM search. While Epstein may not have fared well lately in Boston, he set up the right model and has the right people in place to sustain a winning atmosphere in Boston.

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Posted on: October 11, 2011 6:51 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 5:28 am

Report: Epstein 'on brink' of taking Cubs GM job

By Matt Snyder

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is ready to leave Boston to run the Chicago Cubs, according to the Boston Herald. The report says that an announcement is expected to be made within the next "24-48 hours," but that it's pending a few possible roadblocks. First of all, the Red Sox still have Epstein under contract through next season and are reportedly hoping to retain him. Second, if the Red Sox do allow Epstein to take the job, they reportedly will want something back for Epstein (like a player, possibly).

The Boston Globe is reporting the deal isn't that close, but that Epstein's "interest in the Cubs has progressed to a point where the expectation is that he will leave."

Epstein, 37, was named the Red Sox general manager after the 2002 season. Under his watch, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007 after previously having not won it since 1918. Epstein grew up in the Northeast and attended Yale University, so he had ties to the Boston area anyway, but recent reports have indicated he might be looking for a new challenge.

The Cubs obviously are hoping Epstein can lead them to a World Series title as well, having had a drought since 1908. It will be interesting to see what the Red Sox want in return, because if it's a player, Epstein will likely be deciding who to give up for the job he apparently wants.

Epstein to Cubs?
Back in 2008, the Cubs had the best regular-season record in the National League, only to be swept in the NLDS by the red-hot Dodgers. After the loss, general manager Jim Hendry traded popular second baseman Mark DeRosa, let incredibly popular closer Kerry Wood walk in free agency and signed clubhouse cancer Milton Bradley. From there, things went progressively downhill, to the point that the Cubs finished in fifth place in the NL Central this season, behind perennial bottom feeder Pittsburgh. Hendry was relieved of his duties in July by Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, though Hendry stayed on the job a few weeks into August.

Ricketts then conducted an extremely quiet search for a general manager, as only speculative reports surfaced about who he coveted most, but the Epstein talk has picked up within the past few weeks.

The Cubs previously had asked the Red Sox for permission to interview Epstein, and later a report from the Chicago area indicated a fan believes he saw and interacted with Epstein in a Chicago Starbucks. Simply, for the last several weeks there's been smoke, and we're likely to soon see the fire -- which very well could be Epstein taking over as the Cubs general manager.

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 12:35 pm

Former Red Sox exec speaks on Francona, Epstein

By Evan Brunell

WoodforkARLINGTON, Texas -- Peter Woodfork, senior vice-president for baseball operations, working under Joe Torre, is in Arlington for the ALCS. If not for a historic September collapse by the Red Sox, he might have been overseeing an ALCS with one of his former employers.

Before beginning his job with MLB at the start of 2011, Woodfork served for five years as assistant general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks under Josh Byrnes. Both Byrnes and Woodfork worked together with the Red Sox from 2003-05, with the duo helping bring Boston its first World Series since 1918, working under boy wonder Theo Epstein when the team won the title in 2004.

"I don't think anyone saw it coming early in September," Woodfork said about the Red Sox's collapse prior to ALCS Game 2. "As the month went on and the losses mounted, I am sure it became very real for everyone involved."

While Woodfork hasn't been with the Red Sox for years, he was part of the front-office team that oversaw the hiring of Terry Francona to steer the club. Eight years later, Francona is out as manager.

"Terry is a professional and someone I admire for the way he handled the situations that can arise in a market like Boston," Woodfork said. When asked about Francona's replacement, Woodfork said, "Hiring a manager is an extremely difficult task.  You need to consider a number of factors and make the decision that you believe will be best for the entire organization. The Red Sox have strong leadership and decision makers throughout baseball operations and ownership group.  They will do what is best for the club."

But overturn may not be done in Boston. Woodfork's then-boss, Theo Epstein might depart the team and head for greener pastures, possibly taking over the Cubs. If he does indeed leave to Chicago, the Cubs would be getting an "outstanding" GM, Woodfork said, but Epstein's lieutenant in Ben Cherington -- who also worked with Woodfork -- would be a great fit as a potential replacement.

"Ben has all the experience and characteristics to be successful in any baseball operations role," Woodfork said.

Woodfork has had his hands in many different aspects of baseball. Prior to working in the Red Sox and Diamondbacks organization, he worked in the commissioner's office in the labor relations department, working with all clubs in making sure the labor agreement was appropriately followed, as well as steering clubs through the salary-arbitration process. He was involved with the labor agreement process from 2003-06 that is expiring at the end of the month. Despite the wide range of skills that could translate to being a strong GM, Woodfork refused to consider a possible future as GM.

"At this time, my focus is on my job at Major League Baseball," he said. "My energy is geared toward having a smooth playoffs and preparing for the off sesaon."

If Jim Leyland is any indication of the job Woodfork has been doing thus far, he's doing just fine. After Game 1, Leyland told reporters how impressed he was by Woodfork's work with the two rain delays complicating the game.

"I thought Peter Woodfork from the Commissioner's Office he did a tremendous job keeping this thing going staying on top of it," Leyland said." He really did."

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Photo: MLB.com

Posted on: October 7, 2011 11:06 am

Red Sox owner: Epstein won't be GM forever

John HenryBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Red Sox owner John Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino declined to comment specifically about the Cubs' request to interview general manager Theo Epstein when they appeared on a local Boston radio show on Friday.

"Every year we get requests from people. We've never discussed them publicly," Lucchino said (via WEEI.com). "We don't comment on requests."

Henry said that there is a general understanding in baseball that teams will grant permission if it is for a promotion -- something the Cubs could theoretically offer.

Henry didn't say if the Cubs have offered a promotion, but the team could name him president or CEO or whatever made up title they wanted to give him and it sounds like the Red Sox owner would allow him to interview.

Henry also noted that Epstein wouldn't be the Red Sox general manager "forever."

"Everyone has to understand a couple of things, and I think (Terry Francona) alluded to this, I think there's  certain shelf life in these jobs," Henry said. "You can only be the general manger if you're sane. You can only be the manager for a certain amount of time. It's a tremendous pressure-cooker here, 162 games. It's a long season, and the pressure here is 365 days.

"So, Theo is not going to be the general manager forever. Just as if Tito had come back for the last two years, would he have gone past 10 years? I can't imagine he would have. I think that Theo will. He's the guy now, he's been the guy, we've had tremendous success. We fell apart at the end of the season. As Larry expressed, we're upset about it. No fan could be more upset than I am about the result this year. But he's done a tremendouss job for us over the last eight years."

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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