Trading Places: Cubs franchise gaining respect while Red Sox are losing it

Perception is everything.  Boston has been thought of as a model organization that could do no wrong while the Cub were the inept laughingstock that couldn't seem to do anything right.  It now appears that the two franchises are switching places.

The way both the Cubs and Red Sox franchises have acted throughout this process says a lot about the different ownership between the two teams. The Cubs appear on their way to becoming a top notch organization while Boston suddenly looks petty, greedy, and manipulative.

Ricketts has handled his search with class.  He did his research, he has drawn input from around the league, and he has come up with his own handful of candidates, one of whom we now know is Theo Epstein.  Throughout the process, Ricketts has kept everything close to the vest.  There have been no leaks to the media.  It has strictly been about finding the best person(s) for the job of making the Cubs a consistent winner.

Epstein was said to be "blown away" by Ricketts long-term vision.  Jim Hendry has said nothing but good things about the Ricketts family and the Cubs organization in general.

Meanwhile, in an excellent article by David Kaplan, we get this from one of his sources, whom he calls "a current baseball executive with knowledge of the parties involved".

Larry Lucchino is one of the most unreasonable people I have ever dealt with and because of his frayed relationship with Theo Epstein he is looking to make a point at the expense of Theo's happiness and his desire to go to Chicago. I didn't believe that ownership group for one second when they said that they wouldn't stand in Theo's way if he wanted out of Boston. They are furious that he wants out and they are trying to make a point. Theo helped bring them two World Series titles and they have no loyalty to him and his happiness. They messed with Terry Francona and that was just an incredibly pathetic move and now they are trying to make life very tough for Theo.

We've seen them throw Terry Francona under the bus and then have the owner John Henry clumsily deny it with an unannounced visit to a Boston radio station.  Even the hometown radio station's hosts weren't buying Henry's spin.  Why should anyone else believe it?

We also talked earlier about how all the leaks are coming from Boston in an obvious ploy to try and manipulate the negotiations to their favor.

The point is that Boston is now switching places with the Cubs.   Once revered as the model to follow, the Red Sox are quickly losing that reputation.  They are now alternating between looking petty, unprofessional and downright laughable - especially when their owner storms on to the radio to try and defend their highly questionable actions. Can you even imagine Tom Ricketts doing that?

Not a chance.

As the Red Sox look to tear Epstein down on his way out the door, they are in serious danger of also tearing down the model organization that he was largely responsible for building.  In their effort to play hardball and gain top prospects in return, they could well pay for that price in terms of their once hallowed reputation.  Are a couple of top prospects really worth the damage they seem to be doing to their organization -- at least in term of perception?

Think about it this way: If you're an aspiring GM right now, forgetting the past, who would you want to work for going forward?  Which organization looks like the professional one that respects their employees and keeps their business in house?

Who'd have thought just a month ago that the correct answer would be the Cubs?

Filed under: Cubs Organization


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  • Cound not agree with you more John, the Red Sox are making one blunder after another lately. What are the Sox going to do of the Cubs juts walk away? They would look like idiots and Epstein would be paid to do nothing for one year and then leave anyway. Larry Luchinno wants to be the tough guy and make this as painful for Epstein as possible. The Cubs should not back down, let Bud Selig come in and settle this . Once MLB gets involved , the Red Sox will cower and settle this quickly.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    I would argue that they already look like idiots, but the Cubs walking away would make it even worse for them. They need to sober up and realize what they're causing more harm than good to their franchise.

  • Problem for the Red Sox lately John is that they are too busy trashing people and burning bridges to notice. Lucchino seems to be on a massive ego trip and seems more bent on punishing Esptein for leaving and teaching him a leason for being "ungrateful" to man ( Lucchino ) who made Epstein the GM in the first place. Now I want MLB and Selig to get involved. Once they step in the Red Sox will backdown like the wusses they are .

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Is it a certainty that Selig would step in?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If it gets toxic and it continues to drag out, he might.

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    In reply to Steve Flores:

    It's already toxic, but this is about a lot more than just Lucchino thinking Epstein ungrateful. This is envy and jealousy. Lucchino has alway been pissed that Epstein gets more credit for Boston's two titles than he does.

  • I so much agree with this conclusion. Furthermore, in my opinion, should the Red Sox continue to hardball the Cubs over the compensation issue, the Cubs should:

    1) Walk away from the negotiation with the Red Sox
    2) Advise Theo that their offer and deal will remain in place and will come into effect the moment he is released from his contract with the Red Sox or when it expires, whichever comes first
    3) Hire Josh Byrnes (or whoever Theo has recommended) as General Manager, as quickly as possible.

    This way, the Cubs would still be in a position to achieve their short-term objectives without compromising their long-term objectives, and in essence be free of all of the game playing that the Red Sox ownership is perpetuating.

    If in the meantime the Commissioner's Office should intervene and effect a solution to the matter, then so be it.

  • In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    I like this idea.

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    In reply to kansasblackhawk:

    Kansas, this is what I was alluding to the other night. We have a deal with Theo Epstein, and we should honor it. If TR is convinced he is our man now, than he should still be our man a year from now.

    We should back away and let them hang. Regardless of whether or not Theo is the Cubs GM in 2012 or not, the Cubs aren't going to compete for a playoff bid, much less a title.

    The organization is going in the right direction now in terms of building from within. That will continue regardless of who is GM in 2012. I see nothing wrong with putting the major league team in a holding pattern. It's already been in one for two years if you really think about. One more year isn't going to hurt.

    In the mean time, whoever is going to be GM in 2012 should be working on getting the flight deck cleared for Epstein 2013. That is when the Cubs could realistically take a real leap forward.

  • I want to state that I do think this deal eventually gets done, one way or the other. But in the unlikelihood that it doesn't, it's possible the Cubs could wait a year for Epstein, but I'm not sure what kind of GM they could get as an "interim" for a year. What if he does reasonably well and leads the Cubs to improvement? Then it becomes something of a quandary.

    I'm of the thought that there are other good GM candidates out there and if it comes down to it, the Cub should turn to one of them. For me, it's Coppolella. If we don't get the current Theo Epstein then let's get the next one.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I like this idea too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Just hire the GM equivalent of Quade to a one year deal!

    I really like the way the Cubs are operating. I realize that when you leave a job it is a terrible idea to bash your foremer employer, but for Hendry to stay on through the draft and work an extra month says a lot about the kind of owner TR is. And you have to think that Epstein is aware of this. It kind of reminds me of when Maddux left the Cubs. He wanted to stay but ownership acted like idiots and he left. Hopefully TR is to the Cubs what Maddux was to the Braves.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    The equivalent to Quade here would have to be Randy Bush. Not sure how Bush would feel about being a one year GM. Maybe he'd look at it as an opportunity, maybe not...

    Hendry has always been a class act, which always made me careful to criticize some of his decisions more than Hendry himself.

    I really believe that Ricketts can bring this franchise to respectability even in the unlikely event that the Theo deal unravels.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I understand where you are coming from, and if TR had an inkling that getting Epstein from Boston now would be this hard, he might have just gone another route, but he is to committed now. Ricketts is a stand up guy, and this is now a point of honor. He can't just walk away from Epstein now.

    I'm all for letting Epstein know he and his family are taken care of no matter what and leaving Henry and Lucchino with egg on their face.

    I trust TR's vision, and if he feels Epstein is the man for us now, then he is the man for us a year from now.

    Through all of this, the one guy in Boston we haven't heard anything from is Epstein. He is the one person on that end who has acted honorably. To abandon him now would just be plain wrong.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I don't disagree with that, and it's why I think eventually this get done, one way or the other.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Leave no man behind!

    In the end, no matter what, this is all going to come back to bite Boston in the ass. The baseball Gods have a funny way of punishing hubris.

    The curse of the Bambino could well become the curse of the Epsteino.

  • Boston has until Tuesday to make up their mind. No dealings during
    the WS. I think the Cubs have the advantage.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think we're definitely regaining some leverage as Boston continues to take a hit as far a public perception goes.

  • What I don't like is overpaying & meeting those crazy demands, and I think everyone is in agreement here.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Abolutely. There are always going to be people out there who see Epstein as some sort of savior and nothing else will do (probably the same 3% saying they would give up Castro), but for the most part I think people don't want the Cubs to stick to their gun and not back down.

  • The Cubs have the advantage, and I think they know that. I am pretty confident this will done ..... I say by late Monday.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    It's beginning to look that way. I still think it gets done too.

  • I think Tom will handed this like a pro. He knows he has them.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I agree, he's been a pro throughout the process and I don't expect that to change.

  • John

    Correct me if I'm mistaken - but wasn't the friction between Lucchino and Epstein responsible for the resignation in 2005?
    Looking back at it from a 2011 perspective it's hard to believe Epstein went back into that kind of a mess ... and it seems likely that this schism was just a matter of time.
    The fact that Henry has said and done what he has over these last few days only, IMO, reinforces the notion that Boston's situation is way more of a mess than any outside the organization knew (or suspected) even 45 days ago.

  • In reply to MoneyBoy:

    That's the story. Lucchino's rumored to be difficult to work under and his behavior throughout this process isn't going to help.

    The next Red Sox model may wind up being the blueprint on how to dismantle a successful franchise.

  • I have long heard that Lucchino was very difficult and , at times, unreasonable to work with and for. This goes back to the days when he was Baltimore's President , back the late 80's . The rep then and now , is that he can be vindictive and petty . he seems to be lving up to that right now

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Not sure which GM would want to work for him despite all the positives associated with the Red Sox in general.

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