Cubs

Red Sox cant keep Epstein around forever

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Red Sox cant keep Epstein around forever

READ: Next Cubs GM will face great expectationsREAD: Cubs keep eye on Epstein, Friedman

Amid the silence, two baseball-obsessed cities are waiting to hear what Theo Epstein wants to do with the rest of his life.

Long before Epstein became a legend in Boston, Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry and chief executive officer Larry Lucchino saw his potential. They wouldnt comment directly on the reports that the Cubs have asked for permission to interview Epstein.

But during Fridays radio appearance on WEEI, they spoke broadly about the general managers future. A spectacular September collapse the Red Sox went 7-20 and finished in third place for the second straight year already pushed out manager Terry Francona.

Theres a certain shelf life in these jobs, Henry said on the Dennis & Callahan show. You can only be the general manager if youre sane. You can only be the manager for a certain amount of time. Its a tremendous pressure-cooker here, 162 games. Its a long season, and the pressure here is 365 days.

So Theo is not going to be the general manager forever. Just as if Tito (Francona) had come back for the last two years (on his contract), would he have gone past 10 years? I cant imagine that he would have. I think that Theo will. Hes the guy now. Hes been the guy. Weve had tremendous success. We fell apart at the end of the season.

Were upset about it. No fan could be more upset than I am about the result this year. But hes done a tremendous job for us over (the) years.

The Red Sox executives were asked a hypothetical question about whether Epstein would be allowed to interview anywhere else.

There is a certain protocol in this game, Henry said, and it is if someone asks permission for a job thats not lateral, then you give them permission. Thats just the way it works.

The Cubs could offer Epstein a new title, like president of baseball operations, as well as a direct report to ownership. Chairman Tom Ricketts has been consistently supportive of team president Crane Kenney, who could remain in charge of the business side within a reorganized front office.

Kenney has roots in the Boston area and has frequently drawn parallels between Fenway Park and Wrigley Field and their shared history. This is a blueprint that team executives would like to copy. Lucchino indicated that the Red Sox receive interview requests every year about team personnel.

A few years ago we got a request from another team about Theo Epstein, Lucchino said. You heard nothing about that because we didnt discuss it publicly. Theres good reason for it, too. There are some privacy considerations here. I dont know that people would want their career development or their job decisions to be debated publicly or for people to know what theyre considering or not considering.

And Im not sure the other team, necessarily, would like that to be made public. So our consistent policy and practice has been not to discuss whether theres been a request made.

Back in November 2002, when the Red Sox made Epstein the youngest general manager in baseball history, he wasnt even their first choice. But Billy Beane had second thoughts and decided to remain with the Oakland As and play Moneyball.

Epstein is now 37 years old, with two World Series rings and a lot of things to think about. The Red Sox arent saying which way hes leaning, or even acknowledging that the Cubs have reached out for help.

If it gets out and he doesnt gothen somebody looks bad, Henry said. Either the team looks bad that asks him and he said no or if he goes and interviews for the job and doesnt get it.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

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AP

Game on as Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and Alex Cobb turn down qualifying offers

During the middle of Jake Arrieta’s 2015 Cy Young Award campaign, super-agent Scott Boras compared the emerging Cubs pitcher to another client – Max Scherzer – in the first season of a seven-year, $210 million megadeal with the Washington Nationals.

Now don’t focus as much on the money – though that obviously matters – as when Scherzer arrived for that Washington press conference to put on his new Nationals jersey: Jan. 21, 2015.

It might take Boras a while to find a new home for his “big squirrel with a lot of nuts in his trees.” Teams have been gearing up for next winter’s monster Bryce Harper/Manny Machado free-agent class for years. Mystery surrounds Shohei Ohtani, Japan’s Babe Ruth, and the posting system with Nippon Professional Baseball. Major League Baseball’s competitive balance tax may also have a chilling effect this offseason.

As expected, Arrieta, All-Star closer Wade Davis and pitcher Alex Cobb were among the group of free agents who went 9-for-9 in declining the one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer before Thursday’s deadline.

With that formality out of the way, if Arrieta and Davis sign elsewhere, the Cubs will receive two third-round picks in the 2018 draft.

By staying under the $195 million luxury-tax threshold this year, the Cubs would have to give up a second-round draft pick and $500,000 from their international bonus pool to sign Cobb, an obvious target given their connections to the Tampa Bay Rays, or Lance Lynn, another starter on their radar who turned down a qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals.

That collectively bargained luxury-tax system became a central part of the Boras media show on Wednesday outside the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, where he introduced “Playoffville” as his new go-to analogy at the end of the general manager meetings.

“The team cutting payroll is treating their family where they’re staying in a neighborhood that has less protection for winning,” Boras said. “They’re not living in the gated community of Playoffville. Certainly, they’re saving a de minimis property tax, but the reality of it is there’s less firemen in the bullpen. There’s less financial analysts sitting in the press boxes.

“The rooms in the house are less, so obviously you’re going to have less franchise players. When you move to that 12-room home in Playoffville, they generally are filled with the people that allow you to really achieve what your family – your regional family – wants to achieve. And that is winning.”

Boras also represents four other players who rejected qualifying offers – J.D Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Greg Holland – another reason why this could be a long winter of Arrieta rumors, slow-playing negotiations and LOL metaphors.