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Tom Shaer on D&C: Theo Epstein is Cubs’ No. 1 target

10.11.11 at 10:43 am ET
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Chicago sports media personality Tom Shaer joined Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning to give the dish on what he knows about the Theo Epstein situation and whether the Cubs are actually pursuing the Red Sox general manager. According to Shaer, the Cubs are not just interested in Epstein; he’s at the top of their list.

“Theo is their No. 1 target,” Shaer said. “They’re doing what they have to do to try to make that happen. But they’re fully prepared if that doesn’t happen.”

Epstein has been linked to the Cubs ever since the Red Sox’ September collapse. He was reportedly spotted in Chicago over the past weekend at a Starbucks. But both the Red Sox and the Cubs have refused to address whether Epstein is actually meeting with Chicago.

Nonetheless, Shaer said that one reason Epstein would fit in well with the Cubs is that he would work well with Chicago chairman Tom Ricketts. According to Shaer, Epstein would have less of a payroll to work with but more freedom under Ricketts than he had under Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino.

“I think they would be a fantastic match,” Shaer said. “I think [Epstein] would have less of an issue with Ricketts than he had with Larry Lucchino during the first three or four years. … I don’t think he’ll have any problem. I think he’ll find Ricketts to be a great boss to work for.”

Following are more highlights form the conversation. To hear the full interview, go the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On what the Cubs will offer Epstein for a contract: “I think he’ll give him five guaranteed years and I think the figure will be somewhere between $2 million and $4 million. I don’t believe the numbers you’re hearing are outrageous, not at all. … He realizes that good management costs money and he has a different approach here now. Again they’re going to pare back that payroll. They have $50 million coming off the payroll this year. They’re going to spend some of it but not all of it. He values management more than spending gobs of money. He’ll pay for management.”

On if the relationship between Terry Francona and Epstein was strained: “I have been able to confirm that they were sending lineups down from the front office into the Red Sox dugout. I don’t think that Francona appreciated that. I don’t know if that was coming from ownership through Theo ordering Theo to do that or if Theo did it on with his baseball people. Francona was not happy with that.”

On what Ricketts wants in a general manager: “He wants somebody who is going to understand that there is a business component to this. 90 percent of business decisions are based on numbers, so that’s where again your metrics come in. But there’s also a negative in there. He loves all the stuff Theo brings to the table. But there is one thing he will never do, I don’t care how much he loves whoever his general manager is. He will not spend anywhere nearly as big as the Red Sox have on the payroll. … The Cubs spend about $140 million. They won’t do it again.”

On if Ricketts look at the Red Sox organization as a model for the Cubs: “From top to bottom, including all the billboards inside Fenway Park. He loves the fact that they get $40-45 million a year from stadium signage in Boston. … He’d like to do everything the Red Sox have done from baseball ops, which is to win. He’d like to everything they’ve done in terms of generating revenue from an old stadium, obviously the Cubs and the Red Sox are the only two who have that type of stadium.”

On what the Cubs would give the Red Sox for Epstein: “There’s a lot of talk that the Red Sox would ask for the Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro. They won’t part him, that’s not going to happen. But if compensation has to be part of it, [Ricketts] will do it.”

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