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.

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

The Cubs gave Kyle Schwarber time to sort things out by sending him down to Triple-A Iowa, and Schwarber's first game back in the minors shows he may need some time.

Schwarber's first game with the Iowa Cubs was a forgettable one. He struck out in his first three plate appearances before singling in his last at-bat. He struck out looking in the first inning before striking out swinging his next two times up.

Schwarber batted third in the lineup and played left field. Iowa won 1-0 against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

He last played for Iowa in 2015, but only spent 17 games there. He hit .333 with three homers and a 1.036 OPS in that short stint. Before getting sent down Schwarber was hitting .171 with the Cubs with 12 home runs, but also 75 strikeouts in 64 games.

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

WASHINGTON – The Cubs already visited the White House. The Washington Nationals are still the team with so much more to prove.

Dusty Baker needs this October to cement his spot in Cooperstown, the way Joe Maddon put the final bullet point on his Hall of Fame resume. Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant took different routes out of Las Vegas, but only one has the World Series ring to go with the Rookie of the Year/MVP hardware. While the clock is ticking on Max Scherzer and that championship parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, the Jon Lester megadeal essentially paid for itself.

Cubs vs. Nationals is supposed to be a circle-your-calendar event. Except the Cubs rolled out a Cactus League lineup on Monday night and Nationals Park featured rows and rows of empty seats amid a crowd of 29,651 where the celebrity vibe became more George Will than A-Rod and J-Lo.

The Cubs still hung on for a 5-4 victory that might have been their best under-the-circumstances win in a season that will hit the halfway point this weekend, showing why they’re the defending champs.

“It is exciting – don’t get me wrong,” Maddon said. “It’s just that we’re attending with a different group than we thought we would be attending this party with.

“And that’s OK, because these guys now are getting the kind of experience that is going to be very beneficial to us in August and September.”

A rash of injuries forced the Cubs to start Jeimer Candelario at third base and Mark Zagunis in right field and Javier Baez kept making highlight-reel plays while Addison Russell rested his sore right shoulder, leaping to grab to a Harper line drive and racing across the left-field line and sliding into the wall to make another spectacular catch in foul territory.

“Games like this is what we need right now – competition,” said Baez, who struck out in his first three at-bats and finished at 2-for-5. “Playing tight games like this will make us make adjustments better and be more in the game.”

With Kyle Schwarber more than 1,000 miles away in Des Moines and hitting the reset button at Triple-A Iowa, Willson Contreras became the leadoff hitter of the day and launched Gio Gonzalez’s fifth pitch of the game into the left-field seats.

The young Cubs manufactured their next run in the eighth inning when Baez stole third base and scored on Albert Almora Jr.’s perfectly placed bunt into the no man’s land between the pitcher’s mound and the first-base line. The bullpen is Washington’s Achilles’ heel and showed with a three-run meltdown in the ninth inning.

Eddie Butler – who began the season in the Iowa rotation – neutralized a powerful Washington lineup while getting just one strikeout in five innings. Maddon pushed a lot of bullpen buttons, not going to Wade Davis for a four-out save and then summoning the All-Star closer when Hector Rondon couldn’t work with a five-run cushion.

In a dramatic finish, Davis survived giving up three hits, a walk and a wild pitch, striking out Ryan Zimmerman with a curveball to end a game that lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes.

“To play so well and not win that game would have really been awful,” Maddon said.

The Cubs needed this with Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg looming the next two nights. But for all of their talent and regular-season dominance – three division titles since 2012 and close to a 100-win pace this year – the Nationals still haven’t won a playoff series in a city where the Senators once won it all in 1924.

This could be an epic matchup in October, bursting with stars and pumping with bad blood. Just listen to Baker during his pregame media briefing, responding to a question about a power hitter like Anthony Rizzo batting leadoff: “I ain’t worried about the Cubs. They can do their thing.”

Or Baker dismissing Maddon’s mind games and the possibility of intentionally walking Harper when Ryan Zimmerman is a Triple Crown contender: “It’s a new time and a new day.”

The last word from Maddon, who keeps insisting the 39-37 Cubs have a hot streak in them and that he digs the youth movement: “If this was a spring training lineup, we might get a call.”