Before team chairman Tom Ricketts puts his focus on the highly-touted assistant general managers like Rick Hahn and Jerry Dipoto, Ricketts will likely want to exhaust every effort in trying to lure a “big name” general manager to Chicago. You have heard the names already: Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, and Billy Beane.
Those four are the top candidates on Ricketts’ list of potential replacements to Jim Hendry. The problem is most of the “top candidates” will probably remain with their current organization–except for one. But before we go on about that individual, lets take a look at recent comments made by Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein about the Cubs’ position.
"“I try to avoid commenting on things so speculative,” Epstein said. “I can say I’m completely focused on the Red Sox, the 2011 Red Sox first and foremost, and what potentially lies ahead for this club. I’m really focused on trying to get to the postseason and win another World Series. I spend all my time working with my staff, making this organization what we want it to be, building for the future. That’s where my focus is. Something like that (a potential wooing by the Cubs), I can’t even contemplate it long enough to comment on it.” ESPN Boston"
While Epstein calls any discussions about the Cubs’ general manager position “speculative”, he did not deny that he could be interested in the Cubs position. Many media reporters have taken those comments made by Epstein and spun them as saying that Epstein could have some interest in joining the Cubs. Lets dispel that notion now. The only interest Epstein has in the Cubs is as a negotiating tactic to get the Red Sox to add more money to his current contract. As much as Epstein is an attractive option, he just is not a realistic option to be the next general manager of the Cubs.
Now, on to the “big name” general manager that could be the next general manager of the Cubs. That, of course, would be Billy Beane, who is currently the general manager of the Oakland Athletics. Beane is indeed a popular general manager, but more so for his philosophy and not because of the baseball decisions he has made. Beane was made famous by “M0neyBall” the book-turned-movie about the strategy that Beane uses as a general manager. That of course would be putting the emphasis on on-base percentage and slugging percentage rather than the traditional home runs and RBIs. But, again, Beane is probably more known for his unique concept and not for the product that he puts on the field. Judging by the teams that Beane has fielded over the years, one would think that he is an average general manager at best. But whenever you have actor Brad Pitt playing you in a movie, there is good chance you will be glorified.
Nonetheless, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times reports that “rumors of Billy Beane for Cubs GM might be on the money.” Reading the article it becomes blatantly clear that Wittenmyer had a great play of words for the title, as no where in the article does it state that the Cubs have reached out to Beane, just that the team may eventually do so. Some feel that Beane is embedded in the Athletics organization consider he has piece of ownership in the franchise, however, the consensus appears to be that Beane would entertain a new challenge. For what it’s worth, Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff would not prevent Beane from furthering his career with another organization.
Also in the report, Wittenmyer mentions Athletics assistant general manager David Forst as a possible candidate as well. Forst is a very intelligent individual as he graduated Cum Laude from Harvard with a bachelor of arts degree in sociology. However, Forst does not appear to be the same caliber as Rick Hahn or Jerry Dipoto. For that reason, Forst does not appear to be a realistic candidate.
The Cubs hope to have their next general manager in place by mid-October.