9:17 AM CDT, October 5, 2011
If Theo Epstein is Tom Ricketts’ top choice as Cubs general manager, then fine. Epstein presided over Boston’s historic collapse this year, which makes him very Cub, but he also has a couple World Series titles, which makes him a god around the North Side.
And so, the Cubs’ Fanboy Owner is knocking at the door to see if Epstein can come out and play, but the thing is, if you’re going to raid the Red Sox, then think bigger. Think smarter. Think critically.
Go after Boston team president Larry Lucchino. He’s terrific at building winning baseball organizations, and what the Cubs absolutely need is terrific at the top, not the Fanboy Owner or Clown Kenney.
Now, don’t expect Lucchino to bring along Epstein. They haven’t been BFFs for a while. So, pick one. Pick Lucchino.
The Red Sox have been in chaos for the second straight month. Last month, they pulled a ’69 Cubs, choking away the biggest wild-card lead in history. This month came the scapegoating and backstabbing.
Manager Terry Francona either was fired or elected not to exercise his side of the option, saying he didn’t believe he had support from management after eight years and two championships. Tell you what, Francona must hate the owners if he’s walking away from more than $4 million.
Good. The more ill will in Boston, the better the chance that even the Cubs’ Fanboy Owner can get this one right for the first time since, I don’t know, his first day on the job.
The messiness in Boston continued when management refused to say whether it would grant permission if a team --- say, the Cubs --- wanted to talk to Epstein. In my world, if you’re the Red Sox and Epstein is your guy, you say nope, he has a contract, he’s ours.
But in the Red Sox’s crumbling, unseemly world, you play hide-and-seek with the truth.
So, if the Red Sox are dumb enough to let Epstein talk, then Ricketts ought to find out whether they’re dumb enough to let Lucchino have a conversation, too. Epstein hasn’t said no to any outside chatter and he might use the Cubs’ interest to negotiate some of Lucchino’s authority in Boston, which might prompt a quitting fit by Lucchino.
Whatever, you’re a bad businessman if you don’t find out how much chaos that organization is in. If the Red Sox owners are too busy confessing that it was someone else’s fault, then you would be an idiot not to loot the building.
But here’s the thing: You would be dumber than the Red Sox if you came out of this with Epstein as general manager and left the inexplicable Kenny as president. And it might be just as bad if you caved to Epstein’s leverage in demanding the Cubs’ presidency.
Epstein is no more a team president than Kenney is. Epstein is a general manager. That’s the job you want him to perform. You don’t want him doing presidential duties, even if they apparently involve only sitting in the Monster seats in Fenway Park and hiring priests to throw holy water around the Cubs dugout. Point is, you also don’t want Kenney sticking his nose in Cubs baseball business.
The Cubs have overpromoted a GM before. It was ugly. They threw a bunch of big money at Andy MacPhail to wrest him and his two World Series in four years from Minnesota. The Cubs should’ve wanted MacPhail to act the part of GM.
But no. Like Epstein, he had the leverage to get the bigger title, and the Tribune Co. goofs gave it to him. Gave him two, actually: president and chief executive officer, but then TribCo goofs always were better at handing out titles than winning them.
Then MacPhail brought in Ed Lynch as GM, and suddenly Jaime Navarro was your ace, and now you know where they got the idea for “Dinner For Schmucks.’’
That happened all the time with Tribune Co. The wonks overpromoted themselves and others. Heck, just look at Kenney. He’s a lawyer who apparently thinks he’s Branch Rickey. Or he has sucked up enough to be named the fifth Ricketts child, I’m not sure, but either way, Kenney is the poster child for the Peter Principle.
Bringing in Epstein and making him president and GM likely would distract him from doing what he does best. Bringing him in as general manager under Kenney is a dead-bang loser, and besides, I wouldn’t want to hire a general manager who would want to work under that clown.
The Fanboy Owner didn’t get through business school as quickly as Papa Joe and his money would’ve liked, so I’ll make it easy for the Fanboy Owner to connect the dots:
Your business is baseball, so you bring in a baseball expert to run your organization and then you get out of the way and take that other clown with you.
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