The Cubs have asked the Red Sox for permission to speak to GM Theo Epstein; one would assume that if Epstein would like to hear what the Cubs have to say, the Red Sox will allow him to do so.
If I were the Cubs, while I wouldn’t cater to the whims of the Red Sox by, say, taking John Lackey‘s contract as compensation to hire Epstein, nor would I do as has been suggested by some to take the consolation prize and hire Red Sox assistant Ben Cherington.
The idea of “same front office, same concepts, same philosophy” has merit in theory, but in practice? I don’t know.
If the Cubs talk to Cherington and make the decision that they’d prefer to go down that road rather than pay for the right to hire and pay Epstein while compensating the Red Sox, fine; but if it’s a next-tier choice to save money in the hopes that they’re getting “Mini-Theo”? I don’t think that’s a great idea.
The Padres hired Epstein’s former assistant Jed Hoyer to middling results so far; Paul DePodesta was an outright disaster when the Dodgers thought they were getting the Moneyball “genius” behind Billy Beane—in fact, because they thought they were getting the genius from Moneyball.
In today’s game the GM has to be able to handle the media and the scrutiny of a large segment of every fan base that has access to the same stats and relentless information and uses them to criticize everything from a minor league trade to how players wear their socks.
People forget that Epstein got the Red Sox job after Beane backed out on an agreed-upon deal. Epstein became the “face” of the franchise who was versed in stats, had experience all aspects of a front office; was a Boston-kid; and would answer to Larry Lucchino; Lucchino was calling many of the shots behind the scenes without having to deal with the media or do the GM grunt work. This is why there was such a big explosion when Epstein’s contract expired after the 2005 season over power, credit and exactly whom was in charge.
To simplistically say they should hire an assistant because he’s cheaper is a DePodesta-style mistake in the making and given the time that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is taking in scheduling interviews, he doesn’t want to jump into a hire because it would be well-received; he wants to hire someone who he feels is the right person for the job, as he should.