Yesterday, news came out that the Boston Red Sox would likely grant permission to the Chicago Cubs to interview their General Manager Theo Epstein for their vacant job. This goes along with news that came a week ago that the Cubs had already reached out to Andrew Friedman about the possibility of taking over that job. Now the discussion among Cub fans is who would you rather have running your team, and who do you think would give them the best chance to build a contender and finally bring that long drought of World Series titles. What I will do, is compare the two using my own opinions. Nothing more than that, but I will list what I feel are some reasons why each should be hired, as well as why they might not be as good as they appear.
With the Epstein news being so fresh, I will start with him. There is very little doubt that he is a General Manager who would interest the Cubs, or any other team for that matter. Anyone who can bring two World Series titles to a team which hasn’t tasted victory in over 80 years must know something about building a ball club. He built the team using free agency and, I believe, also had some good home grown talent to help him along the way. Granted, most of that great farm system he helped build was traded to get Adrian Gonzalez, but he did build a strong farm system which helped them land the slugging first baseman in a trade. Remember, that farm system was build using late round draft picks, so his scouts know how to find talent that is no a top five pick.
If you are Tom Ricketts, and the Red Sox are the template you want to follow, the man who made the Red Sox into a constant contender is the perfect candidate to fill that position. Who better to run the Cubs like the BoSox than the man who built that franchise? There is no better option.
However, much like with any candidate for any job, you also have to look at the opposing views and reasons why he might not be a great hire. Much like with the New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, Epstein has the ability to spend a lot of money to try and cover up his mistakes. One reason I do not like Cashman is this very fact. How good can he be if he does have a limited budget, and not bottomless pockets filled with cash? I am not sold 100% if he can build a team on the field spending almost half as much as he was allowed to in Boston.
He has also build a team this year which had the worst collapse in baseball history, though that could easily be pushed onto Terry Francona who was the manager of the team, and pushed all the wrong buttons. Also keep in mind that Esptein also spent a lot of money on John Lackey, who has been a complete disaster in a Red Sox uniform, and Carl Crawford who had a very Alfonso Soriano like season. That is a lot of money to spend on players who simply are not producing the way you expecting them too. That is not to say that they can not turn things around and still have a productive career in Boston. But things do not look too positive at the moment.
With Friedman, many of the same thing that I said about Epstein apply here as well. He has also built a contender, but he has also done so with far less money than the one the Red Sox put on the field year by year. He and his staff know how to draft players and bring in the free agents that will bring them the most success. Building a constant contender year by year without spending a lot of money has got to be attractive to any team looking to build a team that sustains success. Also he has built teams based mainly on the farm system, home grown talent is a great way to build success. That was one of the key elements that Ricketts spoke of, wanting to rebuild the farm system. What better way to do this than to hire a guy who built up one of the better farm systems in baseball? That qualification would make him an excellent hire.
While building the farm system is one of his major drawing point for Friedman, that could also be something that would make teams want to stay away from him. Yes, he has made a lot of great draft picks, and built a fantastic farm system with those draft picks. There is nothing bad about that is there? There could be some things that would make a team think twice before hiring him. His farm system was built on years of top five draft picks after years of finishing among the worst seasons in baseball. The top five picks are the guys who are supposed to be the prospects who are almost surely be great players in the majors. So when you draft in the top five for several years, of course you are going to have a good farm system. How good will his scouts be when they are not picking early in the draft every year? Makes you wonder what he can do with a better team that will not always give you a great spot to pick in. But, if you are going to have a few years of poor play and awful records, he would be a great pick up.
Between the two of them, I do not think that I have a favorite. Both would be great additions and I feel they would both bring the Cubs a long run of success. Sure, they both have their flaws, but who doesn’t? If the Cubs are able to land either one of them, they will be setting themselves up perfectly for everything that Ricketts and the Cubs are looking for,
Who is your choice?