Theo Epstein And The Cubs

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We’re hearing all sorts of rumors of whom the Cubs might pursue to be their General Manager, but no one has apparently been, y’know, interviewed.

Apart from doling contract extensions to people who are already in the organization, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts hasn’t said much of anything as to what he’s looking for in new GM.

The Billy Beane talk appears to have come and gone and was mostly on the side of Beane and his minions because Beane wants out of Oakland. I thought for sure that it would happen, but the Cubs don’t look interested. Maybe they studied Beane’s actual accomplishments and didn’t partake in the propaganda from Michael Lewis and Hollywood.

Now with the Red Sox in disarray, Theo Epstein’s name is out there.

I’m not buying it.

First, if a big name GM is going to take a job—any job—he won’t want to walk in with a staff in place. He’ll want to bring in his own people. Since Ricketts gave a 4-year contract extension to farm director Oneri Fleita and clearly wants scouting director Tim Wilken to stay, I have to wonder whether the new GM will already be handcuffed when he walks in the door and would willingly accept such immediate constraints.

In terms of compensation for hiring an Epstein-type, are the Cubs going to start giving up players for a GM?

In a practical sense, the Cubs just fired a GM, Jim Hendry, who’d spent a load of money for limited gain.

Um, anyone notice anything about the Red Sox of 2010-2011?

Why go down that road again and do so with a GM upon whom you’ve already placed shackles with the staff contract extensions? Why put out the perception that the GM isn’t in charge of everything he’s supposedly in charge of as he takes the job?

I don’t see the Cubs going down the road of a “name” GM unless one falls into their laps.

I see them hiring someone younger who is probably a currently respected assistant. The Jerry DiPoto-type would be a far better choice than hiring Epstein under the current circumstances even if Epstein wants to go to the Cubs.

Beane wanted it too and look what’s happened there. He’s trapped in a crowded movie theater surrounded by sycophants and a bad team.

Creative non-fiction was better than reality and that’s coming to light with each questioning glance as to why, if he’s a “genius”, his team is so awful.

It’s simplistic, but truth has met accuracy.

They’re not always the same.

In this case though? They are.

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Rosenthal’s Report On The Red Sox, Marlins And Cubs

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Ken Rosenthal discusses several baseball situations in the video report here.

If Rosenthal’s doomsday scenario for the Red Sox comes to pass, they’ll need a series of psychiatrists not to help them get through the grief of blowing a playoff spot, but to try to come to a realistic conclusion why they’d dump the perfect manager for the organization and the city, Terry Francona.

Mike Francesa said the other day (I’m paraphrasing) that the Red Sox are crazy if they fire Francona. He’s right.

They could pull the trick they did with Grady Little and “choose not to renew his contract”—in essence, fire him without firing him; but Francona would be out of work for maybe 5 seconds. He’s not a great strategic manager, but he controls the clubhouse; makes most of the correct maneuvers; handles the media; and will win if you give him the players. Add in that the Red Sox issues are not his fault and it’s absurd to make him the scapegoat. There are things more important than negligible strategic decisions.

With Rosenthal’s foreboding “all bets are off” with the team if they miss the playoffs, it sounds worse that the reality. I don’t know what they could do in terms of players to shake things up. I suppose they could clear out some of the longtime veterans like Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and Jonathan Papelbon; maybe they could consider trading Kevin Youkilis; apart from that, there’s not much they can do. They’d love to be rid of John Lackey and may find a taker for him in a contract exchange, but that’s about it.

The relentless speculation of big names with their eyes on the Cubs job is already tiresome.

Now it’s Larry Beinfest of the Marlins.

Beinfest has worked for Jeffrey Loria for years—is the wackiness accompanying that something new? Signed through 2015 and the president of baseball operations, Beinfest has about as much say as a baseball executive is going to get—this concept of “full autonomy” doesn’t exist anywhere. A year ago Loria refused to let the Mets talk to Dan Jennings, GM Michael Hill or Beinfest; what’s the difference from last year to this year?

Is Beinfest really whispering to people that he’d be interested in the Cubs or was he chatting with someone in casual, meaningless conversation and said, “man, I’d love to get my hands on the Cubs”?

There’s a difference between wanting the job or musing over what-ifs like a teenage girl drooling about the werewolf guy from Twilight. (I’m not bothering to look up his name; you know who I’m talking about.)

Watch Cubs owner Tom Ricketts hire someone young and new like Jerry DiPoto and shun the big names.

As always with the lusty media members pushing certain people for selfish agendas, my advice for Ricketts is buyer beware; hire the person you want and not who the media tries to manipulate you into hiring for their own selfish ends.

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McKeon And The Marlins; Beane And The Cubs

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Jack McKeon‘s future.

It feels strange to talk about the future of someone who’s 81, but Marlins manager Jack McKeon has dismissed a report that a decision has been made as to whether he’s going to manage the next year.

I can say right now that he’s not going to manage next year.

The Marlins need to move on with someone else. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a manager who’s 35. There are veteran coaches like Pete Mackanin who deserve a chance and have acquitted themselves well in brief, interim shots at the main job. John Gibbons would be a good choice for a young team that needs discipline and someone who doesn’t take crap.

That’s similar to McKeon except McKeon can’t (I don’t think) beat them up if they step totally out of line; Gibbons can.

There have been the oft-mentioned names affiliated with the Marlins like Ozzie Guillen and Bobby Valentine as well.

Suffice it to say it won’t be McKeon.

I was against the McKeon hiring because I didn’t think it would work. The team’s played about as poorly under McKeon as they did under Edwin Rodriguez; the discipline issues—on and off the field—haven’t really been eliminated either. It remains to be seen whether the tough love shown to Logan Morrison among others will yield the results they want.

McKeon sounds agreeable to managing for a full year in 2012, but he’s not going to get the chance.

Please call…please call…

Like the once popular teenage boy whose reputation was crafted and has been undone by reality, Billy Beane has done everything but send a video of himself in a Cubs hat celebrating the future championship he’s going to win for Tom Ricketts and the long-suffering fans on the North Side of Chicago.

Speculation is rampant and clearly planted with an agenda as in pieces like this by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Multiple high-ranking A’s officials” have said the Cubs have yet to contact Beane. These are strategic leaks and they’re clearly done with between-the-lines statements from people involved with Beane that he wants out of Oakland and is after the Cubs job.

Beane wants the Cubs, but do the Cubs want Beane?

I say yes. And that’s where he’s going.

Results of the marriage pending.

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MLB September Stories To Watch, Part I

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Justin Verlander‘s MVP candidacy.

I went into the reasons why Verlander is a worthy candidate here.

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated also believes pitchers should be eligible in this piece while saying Verlander’s not his pick now. In August. Why Heyman’s writing who his MVP is in August is a mystery aside from screaming, “I dunno what else to write about so I’ll write about the MVP in August!!”

While I’m unsure of whom should actually be the MVP in the American League yet, I don’t know how even the greatest holdout that pitchers shouldn’t win the MVP can deny Verlander serious thought if he wins 26 games and leads the league in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched and the Tigers win a division that they wouldn’t have come close to winning without him.

I still might say Adrian Gonzalez is the MVP, but it’s simple arrogance to completely exclude Verlander because of self-inflicted parameters that aren’t in the mandate of who’s eligible for the award and who’s not.

What the Yankees will do with A.J. Burnett.

Burnett has the right arm of an ace and the results of a pitcher with the right arm of an ace who decided he’d pitch with his left hand.

And he’s not ambidextrous.

I’m not even convinced Burnett is capable of tying his own shoes.

He’s going to stay in the starting rotation for the next 10 days or so because of the number of make-up games the Yankees have to play, but by mid-September, they’re going to have to come to a conclusion of what to do with him.

They could take him out of the rotation, stick him in the bullpen or just sit him down completely.

All are possible.

All are viable.

Planting the seeds for Billy Beane‘s departure from Oakland.

Already there are whispers that sound more like preparatory statements for Beane to leave the Athletics.

The time is right. Moneyball is at his conclusion (at least with people believing that nonsense); the movie’s coming out in three weeks; Beane’s reputation is pretty much shot with only those holdouts who cling to his fictional genius, trying to justify it with alibi-laden columns and statements as to how what’s happened with the A’s is the fault of Northern California because the evil politicos won’t let the A’s build a stadium.

Yeah. The A’s are going to lose 90 games because of the stadium.

Nothing’s Billy’s fault.

Interesting that the stadium wasn’t an issue when there were so many experts picking the A’s to win the AL West this year.

What happened?

The skids are being greased and the nuggets are popping up from “those close” to Beane saying he might be tired of tilting at windmills with no money and no stadium revenue; that A’s owner Lew Wolff would let Beane talk to other teams that might be interested in him.

Blah, blah, blah.

I say he’s going to the Cubs. The only question is how it’s framed when he does.

LoMo and the Twitter and the mouth and the batting average.

The Marlins demotion of Logan Morrison was a warning shot that lasted a week. They brought Morrison back quickly in the hopes that he’ll learn his lesson that he’s not a veteran; he’s not a megastar who can say whatever he wants; that he’s an employee held at the whims of his bosses for the foreseeable future.

Will he understand?

Yes.

Will he listen?

I’m not convinced.

The Marlins don’t tolerate a lot of crap; don’t be surprised to see Morrison showcased by batting fourth for all of September as they hope he has a big month and then listen to offers for him. The price would be steep because he’s cheap, young and good, but the Marlins wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and trade him.

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