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Why the Red Sox should still pursue Theo Epstein, and other thoughts

Right now, Theo Epstein is under contract as the Cubs president of baseball operations through 2021. Stan Grossfeld

Picked-up pieces while wondering if John Henry and Tom Werner are still upset at Theo Epstein for pushing Carl Crawford on them back in 2010 . . .

■   On Wednesday, Theo told reporters that he’s not coming home to Boston. He says there’s nothing to the speculation. Understood. But I still think the Red Sox should go after him. The Cubs have a price. Theo has a price. He’s still the best man for the job, even though he just went through his Chicago version of the 2011 Red Sox with the 2019 Cubs.

I believe Theo will work for the Red Sox again someday. He’s still a long-lost son to Henry, and his attachment to Sox CEO Sam Kennedy is considerable.


Epstein and Kennedy went to Brookline High together, where they were teammates on the varsity baseball squad. (“Theo mostly coached third base,’’ Kennedy teases.)

After graduating from college in 1995 (Theo from Yale, Sam from Trinity), Epstein caught on with Larry Lucchino in Baltimore while Kennedy — who grew up next door to scribe Peter Gammons — secured an internship with the Yankees.

When Lucchino bought the Padres, he took Theo with him to San Diego. It was there that Lucchino handed Epstein a radar gun and said, “Kid, go behind home plate. In baseball, you’ll always be a second-class citizen unless you know pitching.’’

In 1996, Gammons recommended that Lucchino hire Kennedy in San Diego. With the Padres, Kennedy worked in corporate partnerships, while Epstein — who started off handing out press notes to lowly writers — wound up as director of baseball operations.

Could Sam Kennedy bring back his old friend Theo Epstein to replace Dave Dombrowski?Charles Krupa/AP/Associated Press

When Henry bought the Red Sox in 2001 and hired Lucchino to run the team, Lucchino brought Epstein and Kennedy back to Boston. This was not easy; Padres owner John Moores initially resisted the departures, but Lucchino wore him down with a “Free the Brookline Two” campaign.


As we all know, Epstein wound up becoming a Hall of Fame executive with three World Series championships (two in Boston), breaking curses in two huge baseball markets. Kennedy, meanwhile, was made Red Sox club president in 2015 when Lucchino was nudged to the curb by Henry and Werner. Kennedy was elevated to CEO in 2017.

Even though Theo is killing buzz for a possible return to Boston, it makes a lot of sense. Deposed Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski proved to be the only guy on the planet who could not get along with Kennedy. With Dombrowski and Lucchino out of the picture, it behooves Henry to ask the Cubs for permission to talk to Theo, who is under contract with Chicago through 2021.

Everyone will downplay the possibility, but it would be good for the Red Sox. We won’t stop speculating until the Sox name Dombrowski’s successor. Which needs to happen soon. And it’s past time for Sox ownership to come out of the bunker and discuss.

■   Boston sports fans are truly spoiled in this century. When the Red Sox were eliminated from wild-card contention last week, it marked the first time since April 2016 that any of our four major sports teams (Bruins, in this case) failed to qualify for the postseason.

■   My head will explode if I read one more planted account about how Bob Kraft knew nothing about Antonio Brown’s baggage. On game day in Miami, it was reported that if Kraft had known about the pending civil lawsuit, he never would have allowed AB on the Patriots roster (and yet Kraft watched him play in the game).


This week, we had the whopper report that Bill Belichick acted alone , bringing AB to New England without even informing his owner. Please. As if Belichick could agree to a $9 million signing bonus without informing Kraft.

It would be so much better if Kraft just went all Jerry Jones and admitted that all he cares about is winning and making money.

Robert Kraft has yet to answer questions about Antonio Brown.Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Globe Staff

Kraft and the Patriots knew what they were getting in Antonio Brown. Tom Brady offered to put up AB at his house. The Patriots elected to let Brown play in the 43-0 win over the Dolphins. In all likelihood, they will lose the $9 million bonus that is being grieved. It’s their own fault.

On the flip side, Kraft had a good day in court when the Foxborough Freedom Fighter shed one of his lawyers in his prostitution solicitation case. This from Tuesday’s Globe news story: “The court [Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal] approved a motion from Kraft attorney Jack A. Goldberger, who previously represented the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, to withdraw from the case and noted that attorney Frank A. Shepherd [a former judge on the Florida Third District Court of Appeal] has joined Kraft’s appellate team.’’


■   In an unrelated matter, attorney Jonathan Abady represents both Britney Taylor (one of Brown’s accusers) and rapper Meek Mill, one of Kraft’s new besties.

■   Quiz: Carl Yastrzemski singled in his first major league at-bat on April 11, 1961, at Fenway Park against the Kansas City Athletics. Young Yaz was then thrown out attempting to steal second base. Name the catcher who caught Yaz stealing. (Answer below.)

■   My favorite moment of the Dombrowski Era came when the Red Sox fired John Farrell and Dombro held a presser, opening with, “I’m not going to share facts.’’

■   Moving on to roundball, Team USA finished seventh in the FIBA World Cup. They lost to France. Anybody bothered by the fact that Team USA had four Celtics?

■   Let the record show that David Price never won another game after foolishly teeing off on Dennis Eckersley again July 17.

Price was sailing along with a 7-2 record and a 3.16 ERA at that moment.

From that day forward, Price went into the tank. In his first start after the Eck comments, he gave up six runs in four innings of an 11-2 loss to the Orioles. On the night the Sox’ season-ending losing streak hit eight games, Price gave up nine hits and seven runs in 2⅔ innings of a 7-4 loss to the Yankees.

He finished the season 7-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 107⅓ measly innings. Now he’s having surgery for a cyst near his pitching wrist. Four years down, three to go. Price no longer holds all the cards.


David Price was winless after mid-July.Elise Amendola/AP/Associated Press

■   It was no small distinction when the Red Sox introduced Carl Yastrzemski as “the greatest living Red Sox’’ on the night Yaz threw a ceremonial first pitch to his grandson. The David Ortiz lobby would argue.

■   Major league managers who played for Terry Francona in Boston: Dave Roberts (Dodgers), Rocco Baldelli (Twins), Kevin Cash (Rays), Gabe Kapler (Phillies), Alex Cora (Red Sox). Mets manager Mickey Callaway was Francona’s pitching coach in Cleveland. Farrell was Francona’s pitching coach in Boston.

■   UMass football (0-4) has surrendered 207 points in only four games.

■   Billy Gibbons, who coached women’s basketball at Holy Cross for 34 years before he was fired last January, is suing HC, accusing the school of breach of contract, defamation, age discrimination, infliction of emotional distress, and other wrongdoing. Gibbons is one of the finest men and coaches I have ever met, and it would have been an honor to send a daughter to Holy Cross to play basketball for him.

■   USA Today ranked the top 100 college players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and came up with a top five of Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), Walter Payton (Jackson State), Deacon Jones (South Carolina State), Willie Lanier (Morgan State), and Buck Buchanan (Grambling).

■   Former Red Sox infielder Tim Naehring, now part of the Yankees front office, would look good working at Fenway. Believe it or not, there also has been back-channel lobbying for Dan Duquette, who did a good job in Baltimore before things fell apart with the Orioles.

■   Steve Pearce hit more home runs (two) in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series than he hit in the 2019 season (one).

■   Quiz answer: Haywood Sullivan.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at