Last week, Jon Heyman reported that the Red Sox and Cubs were among the favorites to land Angels pitcher Dan Haren. In the end, neither team pulled the trigger and Haren was bought out (he's now a free agent), but the idea of Boston and Chicago competing for the same player will always raise a red flag here at Standing Room Only.
On one hand, you can understand how and why the two franchises might have similar interests. With all the time that Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington spent together on Yawkey Way, they're probably more similar than any two decision makers in baseball. They obviously value the same qualities, and are intrigued by the same type of players. There's no question that we're headed for many, many occasions where the Sox and Cubs are reportedly after the same guy.
But at the same time, it will always be a little fishy. Especially in a situation like this one, when the Sox were rumored to be interested in Haren for a while, and then the Cubs suddenly emerged as a last-minute possibility.
It's only natural to wonder what's really going on.
After all, even though Theo now works for another team (and in a different league), you know that his rivalry with Larry Lucchino isn't over. In many respects, it's just getting started. You know and Theo knows that while the idea of losing out on a player won't sit well with Lucchino; the idea of losing out on a player to Epstein's Cubs will send him through the roof. So why wouldn't Theo use that to his advantage? Why not have some fun at the expense of crazy old Lucchino?
I can picture it now:
LOCATION: Theo's Office. He and Jed Hoyer are in there together. Feet up on the desk; throwing around a tennis ball.
HOYER: "Hey, you hear the Sox are after Haren?"
EPSTEIN: "Ha! Yeah. What a mess over there."
HOYER: "Yup. You know, anytime you can trade for a 32-year-old pitcher who's making 15 million and coming off the worst season of his career . . ."
EPSTEIN: (starts laughing) "Oh man. I just had a great idea. You have Jon Heyman's number?"
HOYER: (takes out cell phone) "Yup. Right here."
EPSTEIN: "OK, give me your phone. (Texting): Hey John - What's the latest on Haren? We're VERY interested. Want to know who else is in the mix."
MEANWHILE, BACK IN BOSTON . . .
LARRY LUCCHINO: "Sally, get me Cherington on the phone."
SALLY: "Right away, master."
LUCCHINO: Ben, it's Larry. Did you see this latest report from Heyman? He says that the Cubs are in on Haren. We are not losing this & guy to Epstein. Do you hear me?
CHERINGTON: (Inaudible mumbling)
LUCCHINO: "I DON'T CARE IF YOU THINK IT'S A JOKE. And I don't care if it takes Bogarts AND Bradley. Get me Haren or you're FIRED!"
Or something like that.