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.

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

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AP

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

The sports world woke up to some tragic news on Sunday morning.

Former major leaguer Andy Marte and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura were both killed in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic within an hour of each other, according to multiple reports. A Royals representative confirmed the death of 25-year-old Ventura.

The Cubs and White Sox took to Twitter to give their condolences:

Ventura was a member of the Royals from 2013-16 and won a World Series title in 2015 with Ben Zobrist and Wade Davis, who the Cubs acquired this offseason for Jorge Soler. Ventura also played with White Sox pitcher James Shields in 2013-14.

Marte, 33, played a majority of his seven-year career with the Cleveland Indians. He was teammates with Todd Hollandsworth (Atlanta 2005), Kerry Wood (Cleveland 2009-10), and Miguel Montero (Arizona 2014).

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Why Cubs are excited for pitching prospect Dylan Cease: He's 'throwing lightning bolts'

Theo Epstein's front office is heading into Year 6 with the Cubs and they're finally talking about a pitcher as one of the organization's most exciting prospects.

That's how senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod framed his Dylan Cease report to fans at the Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Grand Chicago last weekend.

It was a tongue-in-cheek summation from McLeod after he spent the previous few minutes fawning over Cease, the Cubs' sixth round pick in 2014.

Of course, McLeod and the Cubs can poke fun at the lack of impact pitching the farm system has developed when the homegrown position players like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber just helped lead the franchise to its first World Series championship in over a century.

Cease, however, has been one of the more intriguing Cubs prospects for years — a right-handed pitcher capable of touching 101 mph on the radar gun.

"This guy is throwing lightning bolts out of his arm," McLeod said. "It's really exciting. But we also understaned he's only in Low-A this year, so he's far away."

The Cubs expect Cease to pitch for Class-A South Bend in 2017 after spending last season pitching for short-season Eugene and the 2015 campaign working in the rookie league in Arizona.

Cease — who just turned 21 in late December — put up some impressive numbers at both stops in the Cubs system, posting a 2.36 ERA and 1.165 WHIP to go along with a whopping 91 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. He also only surrendered one homer and walked more batters (41) than reached via a basehit (39).

Control is obviously an issue for Cease, but the upside is evident.

"He's so far away," McLeod said. "He's gonna go into 2017 as a starter. As with a lot of young guys, it's gonna come down to command and depend on that third pitch and the ability to land them for strikes.

"It's a special arm. He can pitch 95-100 mph with a big power curveball. He's unlike anyone else we have in our system since we've been here in terms of pure stuff."

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One fan compared Cease to Carl Edwards Jr. in terms of their lanky build and high velocity, setting McLeod up for a layup joke.

"Well, Dylan is much stronger physically than CJ is...as is everybody in this room," McLeod said as the ballroom filled with laugher. "Don't tell [CJ] I said that. 

"They have different body types, obviously. Carl is long and lanky and Dylan has probably put on 20 pounds since we drafted him, so he's more like 6-foot-2, 190."

By comparison, Edwards — who goes by "The String Bean Slinger" for his slight build — is listed at 6-foot-3, 170 pounds.

Edwards was drafted in the 48th round in 2011 and spent his whole minor-league career as a starting pitcher until the Cubs converted him to a reliever in 2015.

Cease may eventually go down the same path, but the Cubs are going to give him every opportunity to make it as a starter first.

Cease was one of the top pitchers available in the 2014 draft, but his stock took a hit when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow while at Milton High School in Georgia.

That scared off a lot of teams — as did the potential signability issues with college offers looming — but the Cubs took a chance and have now watched Cease soar to a top prospect in the system (No. 4 by Baseball America; No. 7 by FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus) despite the cautious approach and lack of innings in professional ball.

"We have to thank Kyle Schwarber, actually, as one of the main reasons we got to sign Dylan Cease," McLeod said. "Because we took Kyle fourth overall, we were able to save money on the selection with him, which gave us the resources to go get Dylan Cease.

"He was a Top 10 pick in the draft — a high school arm that got hurt, fell down to the fifth round and he had a commitment to Vanderbilt, I think it was, and we were able to use the money we saved from Kyle.

"Just another reason to love Kyle Schwarber."