Red Sox

McAdam: Epstein's time as GM is winding down

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McAdam: Epstein's time as GM is winding down

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Theo Epstein's name has surfaced in connection with the Chicago Cubs, who are in search of a general manager, and, perhaps, a club president.

As Red Sox principal owner John Henry noted in an e-mail Wednesday night: "This kind of speculation happens from time to time to successful GMs and managers. The Cubs have one of the best presidents in baseball. I think this shows how highly regarded Theo is by the media and baseball in general.

ESPN.com Wednesday speculated that Epstein might be the perfect candidate to take over the Cubs, whose championship drought is longer than the one Epstein and the Red Sox ended in 2004.

Epstein would bring immediate credibility to a franchise which hasn't won a pennant in more than 60 years, or a World Series in more than a century.

Unanswered, of course, is whether Epstein himself would have an interest in the Cubs.

For now, the question might be moot. Epstein's current deal, signed after a winter-long walkout following the 2005 season, expires after the 2012 season.

It's difficult to imagine Red Sox ownership allowing Epstein to leave with a year remaining, even if baseball protocol generally calls for teams to allow personnel to leave if it involves a promotion -- in this case, from executive vice-president and general manager to club president.

It's no secret that Epstein harbors a desire for new challenges.

After next season, he will have been general manager of the Red Sox for a full decade, from 2003 through 2012. In that time, the Red Sox have won two pennants and two World Series, with at least a decent chance to improve on that this October.

There's drudgery to the job, and after a while, a sameness: endless paperwork, conversations with agents, arbitration cases and other day-to-day demands.

In the last 10 years, Eptsein has turned the Red Sox into one of the game's model franchises. The minor league development system has consistently churned out key players (including Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Bard) and armed with one of the game's biggest budgets, Epstein has overseen a team which has made the post-season six of his eight seasons.

The Sox were at the forefront of the game's analytic revolution, utilizing new metrics to evaluate player performance, while building one of the biggest scouting staffs in either league.

Still, surely Epstein thirsts for something new, something else.

A glass ceiling of sorts is in place at Yawkey Way, where Larry Lucchino, with whom Epstein has famously feuded, safely ensconced as the team president. As long as Lucchino remains with the Red Sox, Epstein can't move up the organizational ladder.

Henry, who brokered Epstein's return as well as the accompanying peace between Epstein and Lucchino five years ago, doesn't want to lose either. Under Lucchino, the Red Sox have become not only one of the game's most successful franchises on the field, but also, one of the most profitable off it.

It's said that Lucchino would like to replace Bud Selig as commissioner when Selig's term expires after the 2012 season, but it's difficult to imagine Lucchino, who has made his share of enemies, winning approval. For that matter, it's difficult to imagine a number of small market owners approving an executive from one of the game's superpowers as their leader.

That leaves Epstein at a crossroad.

In one sense, the notion of Epstein as team president seems odd. A club president must be the very face of a franchise, and in recent years, Epstein has receded from the spotlight. He's seldom visible at Fenway during games, unlike other general managers who are frequently glimpsed on the field before games or in press box dining rooms.

Some close to Epstein believe that his next job might be as the GM of a small-market team, that the challenge of rebuilding an organization from the ground up, with limited financial resources, appeals most to his competitive nature.

That argument is fine in theory. In application, it would be quite a leap to go from a payroll of 165 million to one with a payroll half that size.

It's possible -- though not exactly likely -- that, with a capable Ben Cherington as the GM-in-waiting, ownership could step aside, thank him for a job well done and allow Epstein to take the Cubs' presidency.

Or, in a year's time with his contract expired, Epstein could solicit other opportunities. Perhaps a dual job of presidentGM, like the one Dave Dombrowski has in Detroit, would appeal to him most, enabling him to stay involved in the day-to-day operation of a franchise.

But what's clear is this: Epstein's time as general manager of the Red Sox is winding down, mission accomplished. It seems only a matter of time before something else, somewhere else, pulls him away.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

UPDATE: The deal is for three years, per Ken Rosenthal.

BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.

A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal... 

...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...

have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. 

Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora. 

A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said. 

Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.

Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday. 

 

Could Nationals' interest in Cora mess with Red Sox' plans?

Could Nationals' interest in Cora mess with Red Sox' plans?

The Washington Nationals will ask to speak to Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora after the ALCS, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported, which could throw a wrench into the Red Sox' plans to name Cora their manager.

The Sox appeared close to naming Cora to replace John Farrell after the Astros season is finished, NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich reported earlier this week. Then the Nats decided to part ways with manager Dusty Baker after consecutive N.L. East titles but Division Series flameouts.

Cora, 41, as Cafardo points out, was once offered a player development job with the Nats, who were the last team he played for (2011) in his 14-plus years as a major league infielder, including 2005-08 with the Red Sox. 

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo obviously has a fondness for Cora, telling MLB.com in 2011:

"I think it comes natural to him to be a teacher. Alex still has a lot left in his tank as a player. But he has my number, and when he’s done playing, he can make a call. It will be well-received."

After interviewing Cora, ex-Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Ron Gardenhire, who took the Tigers job this week, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told WEEI.com that he was still "undecided" if he'll interview anyone else.