The Decision 2.0.


Tomorrow night there will be no community gathering at the local Boys and Girls Club of America, none of the Boston Red Sox brass will take part in an interview that will be seen nation-wide, but that does not mean that the decision they announce will not have as much impact as what LeBron James’ announcement had when he announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach. Instead, the Cubs and Red Sox fans that have been waiting anxiously over the past 48 hours will learn if current Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein will be taking his talents to the Windy City.

Assuming no decision has been made, the Boston Red Sox upper management team is still pondering the Cubs’ request of permission to interview Epstein for their general managerial opening. The Red Sox know that if they allow Epstein to interview, there is a good chance that Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts will make Epstein a long-term offer on the spot. Included in that offer, maybe a promotion for Epstein from general manager to president of baseball operations. Over the past couple of days, there have been reports to come out of the Boston media that would suggest that the Red Sox and Cubs are talking about a deal that would send shortstop Starlin Castro to Boston if Epstein in fact joined the Cubs’ organization. Those reports are complete non-sense, no such deal has been discussed by either side. In fact, the idea of the Red Sox receiving compensation if Epstein becomes the Cubs’ general manager may be exaggerated.

Nonetheless, the Cubs are going to need a reply from the Red Sox organization quickly. It would appear the Cubs are going to have an answer within the next 24 hours. Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune tweeted that there should be movement for Epstein on Friday, and the silence from the Red Sox brass may suggest that the two sides are trying to work things out. It is fairly reasonable to expect that the Red Sox will respond to the Cubs request tomorrow, because that has been the timeline ever since the Cubs’ request was first made public. However, I disagree with Rogers in that the silence is an indicator that the Red Sox and Epstein are trying to work things out. If that were the case, the Red Sox would have already rejected the Cubs’ request. Epstein’s relationship with the Red Sox brass is not to the point where the two sides can not co-exist, meaning with one year left on his contract, I am sure Epstein and the Red Sox president Larry Lucchino would be able to operate together despite any issues that may exist between them.

Instead, I take the silence as meaning that the Red Sox organization truly does not know what to do with the Cubs’ request. Obviously they have to either accept it or decline it, but I do not think they have decided on either option yet. If they declined it already, I am sure we all would have heard about it by now. Though if they accepted it, there is a possibility that at the preference of Ricketts, they decided to keep their approval quiet. There were twitter rumors last night that the Cubs’ brass was seen at a private airport headed to Boston, but that rumor appears to be just that.  If the Red Sox were to make a general manager change, now would be an ideal time. Fresh off the firing of Terry Francona and an aging roster, the Red Sox may be facing a regime change. Under such a scenario, Red Sox assistant Ben Cherington would be the likely successor to Epstein and Epstein would likely land with the Cubs. But at the same time, there is also the thought that Epstein is one of the=-if not–the best general manager in all of baseball right now, and the his loyalty to the Red Sox may be too strong to break.

If the Red Sox grant permission for Epstein to speak with the Cubs, they basically will be signing off on Epstein becoming the next Cubs’ general manager. Epstein is the man that Ricketts has had his sight on ever since he decided to fire Jim Hendry. Given the similarities of Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, and the Red Sox blueprint of success that Ricketts wants to follow; it would make sense for Ricketts to covet Epstein. That is why any interview that were to take place between Ricketts and Epstein would be a mere formality to Epstein eventually becoming the general manager of the Cubs.

If the Red Sox reject the Cubs’ request, that creates a whole new process for Ricketts and the Cubs’ search for a new general manager. One that may lead to Ricketts pursuing Andrew Friedman of the Tampa Bay Rays, who may be growing frustrated with the lack of local support and direction that the Rays are headed towards financially. The Cubs are still monitoring Friedman, though unlike earlier reports may have suggested, they have yet to officially reach out to the Rays’ general manager or the Rays’ organization. If Epstein is taken out of the picture, I would expect the Cubs to then step up their pursuit of Friedman.

Chicago White Sox assistant general manager Rick Hahn, Red Sox assistant general manager Ben Cherington, and Atlanta Braves director of professional scouting John Coppolella are also on the short list of candidates for the Cubs’ general managerial position.