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Theo Epstein endures an existential crisis as he negotiates with Red Sox

11.14.11 at 1:38 am ET
By

Cubs president of baseball operations (and former Red Sox GM) Theo Epstein (AP)

RANDOLPH, Vt. — Theo Epstein has been the president of baseball operations for the Cubs for just under three weeks. Yet in that time, he still has yet to reach an agreement on his own value.

More than three weeks since the announcement that Epstein would resign to take charge of Chicago, the matter of the compensation that the Red Sox will receive for allowing their erstwhile general manager to depart with a year left on his contract remains unresolved. Epstein continues to negotiate with his replacement, new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, about his own worth.

Somewhere, there is a Samuel Beckett play in the undertaking.

“That’s a more existential question,” Epstein said, prior to participating in the Batting for Vermont fundraising event, of the phenomenon of negotiating his own worth with his former employer. “I know I’m right, because I know my own faults better than Ben does. I know my limitations. I’m just not worth that much. But I’m sure it will work out, one way or the other, in a way that satisfies all the parties involved. The talks are very amicable. That’s the most important thing.”

As for his new job in Chicago, Epstein has become more convinced with each day in his new post that he made the right decision — for both himself, and for the Red Sox — in pursuing a new challenge, or more particularly, new challenges. He has received precisely the intellectual and professional jolt he sought by changing organizations after 10 years with the Sox.

“It’s been invigorating in a lot of ways to come into a new environment with new challenges. There are a lot of challenges,” said Epstein. “To be in one place for so long, you get used to the people and the systems that you have in place. Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond that. Coming into a new situation where we’re focused on building very much on the ground floor, it’s exciting.

“In Chicago, it’s my first time taking a job of that magnitude without any background or experience in the organization. That’s been an interesting challenge in and of itself. We obviously have an important offseason ahead of us. There’s a lot of hiring and structuring to do, developing of systems. There’s an entire culture and baseball culture for me to become familiar with. That’s very important to the organization. We’ve been referring to it as drinking out of a fire hose for the last couple weeks. That will probably continue for the rest of the offseason.

“Eventually, that will [quench your thirst]. Either that, or you’ll get blown through the door. We’ll figure it out.”

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