Is Theo playing games?

794062.jpg

Is Theo playing games?

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.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Sandoval 'starting from scratch' after career had 'fallen into an abyss'

Sandoval 'starting from scratch' after career had 'fallen into an abyss'

The Pablo Sandoval redemption tour is underway as the former World Series MVP tries to revive his career after two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox organization.

In an interview with ESPN Deportes, he admits to being “complacent” during his first two seasons in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal. 

"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval said. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."

After dealing Travis Shaw to the Brewers, Sandoval is expected to be the Red Sox primary third baseman in 2017.

"I am not taking anything for granted," he said. "I am here to work hard. I'm not thinking about the position or not. I am starting from scratch, and I am here to show what I can do on the field."

The 30-year-old says he’s following a “really strict routine” this offseason, and it shows. In a recent photo, Sandoval appears noticeably thinner. Sandoval says his wife giving birth to “Baby Panda” has served as inspiration.

"Watching 'Baby Panda' grow up and that he gets the opportunity to see his father play in the majors for seven, eight more years, to get back to the success I had, that's my motivation every day," Sandoval said. "The people that I surround myself with now and my family, they are the key to my success. This has been a life lesson."

Tanguay: Could Red Sox ownership be going for it now, then sell the team?

Tanguay: Could Red Sox ownership be going for it now, then sell the team?

Could John Henry sell ownership of the Boston Red Sox anytime soon, or does he want to keep winning?  Shaughnessy, Merloni, and Tanguay debate.