The Silence Is Broken


The Boston Red Sox owner John Henry and team president Larry Lucchino emerged today in the public eye together to take part in an interview with WEEI, a Boston area radio station. Both Henry and Lucchino have probably spent their last couple of days debating on whether or not they should grant the Cubs’ formal request to interview Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein for their general managerial opening, if not to become team president of baseball operations.

Some expect a decision to come today on whether or not the Red Sox will grant the Cubs’ permision to speak with Epstein, though that would be hard to tell after following the Henry and Lucchino interview on WEEI. For the most part, the Red Sox owner and president tip-toed around the Cubs’ request, though there were times during the interview that the two may have slipped up. It should also be noted that it was mainly Henry responding to the questions and not Lucchino, for one reason or another the Red Sox president was awfully quiet.

Henry and Lucchino spoke with WEEI this morning, and the highlights from that interview can be seen here. Henry admitted that the Red Sox have a policy of not discussing a request from another team to interview one of their front office officials until they have responded to it. Though the mere fact that Henry gave the company line after being asked about the reported Cubs’ request should have confirmed that the Red Sox did in fact receive the request from Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts earlier this week. Lucchino mentioned that in the past, the Red Sox have not made public any formal requests, regardless of whether they granted permission or rejected the request. Henry did admit that there have been prior instances where teams requested to speak with Epstein and Lucchino.

Despite the Red Sox company policy, I would expect either Henry or Lucchino to offer a public statement once there has been a decision made on the Cubs’ request. To their liking or not, the public knows about the Cubs’ request and the only way for the Red Sox to squash the rumor would be to publicly announce their decision once they make it. Not once during their interview did Lucchino or Henry say that they are not allowing Epstein to interview with the Cubs, and that is something they could have easily said to end all of the speculation. Considering that they did not make such a comment, and they have been pondering the Cubs’ request since Tuesday, that may indicate that they have already allowed Epstein to speak with Ricketts.

If they did, that could mean that Ricketts is offering more than the general manager position. During the interview, Hendry admitted that he agrees that “there is a certain protocol in this game. if someone asks permission for a job that is not lateral, you give them permission, that is the way it works.” That would seem to bode well for Ricketts’ chances of interviewing–if not hiring–Epstein. It has long been believed that Ricketts will dangle the team presidency position in front of Epstein as a way to lure him away from the Red Sox organization. It is very possible that if hired, Epstein could become the team president of baseball operations in addition to general manager of the Cubs. If that is what Ricketts has in mind for Epstein, that would mean that the Red Sox would grant permission because it would be a non-lateral move.

Perhaps the most “tell-all” comment to come from the interview, is when Henry said that he “thinks there is a certain shelf-life for these jobs, and that if you’re sane, you can only be the general manager for certain amount of time.” Following that statement, Henry mentioned that “Theo is not going to be the general manager forever.” When all is said and done, those comments from Henry could be the true indicator of what is to come in the near future. The fact that Henry admitted that Epstein is not going to be the Red Sox general manager forever–during a time in which Epstein is being rumored to join another organization–is strange to say the least. If anything Henry added to fuel to speculation that Epstein will soon be with the Cubs organization, and would have to do some serious backtracking if Epstein were to remain with the Red Sox organization.

Cubs fans, prepare to go crazy. After following the interview, I get the feeling that Henry and Lucchino are preparing the Red Sox for life without Epstein. Keep in mind that the Red Sox may have already granted the Cubs permission, and Ricketts may be waiting to formally announce the hiring until there is a break between series for the MLB post-season. Remember that the MLB discourages teams from making any official announcements during post-season play, but teams are allowed to make announcements during the transition from one series to another. Meaning a possible announcement on Epstein could come tomorrow, or on October 18th, the day before the World Series starts.