BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry won't say whether he has granted the Chicago Cubs permission to interview Theo Epstein, but he didn't rule out the possible departure of the Red Sox general manager.
"I think there's a certain shelf life in these jobs,'' said Henry, who appeared Friday with Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino on "The Dennis and Callahan Show" on WEEI. "You can only be the general manager if you're sane. You can only be the manager for a certain amount of time. It's a tremendous pressure cooker here, 162 games. It's a long season, and the pressure here is 365 days.
"So Theo is not going to be the general manager forever. Just as if Tito (Francona) had come back for the last two years, would he have gone past 10 years? I can't imagine that he would have. I think that Theo will. He's the guy now, he's been the guy, we've had tremendous success.
"We fell apart at the end of the season. As Larry expressed, we're upset about it. No fan could be more upset than I am about the result this year. But he's done a tremendous job for us over the last eight years."
The Cubs reportedly have asked for permission to interview Epstein, presumably for a position as president and general manager, which would be a promotion.
Lucchino and Henry cited club policy and privacy considerations for not revealing if they granted permission to the Cubs.
"We don't mean to sound evasive, but this is one subject we don't believe needs full disclosure," Lucchino said.
Henry said that in the past teams have asked for permission to interview both Epstein and Lucchino for positions; he did not say whether he granted that permission.
"There's a certain protocol," Henry said. "If someone asks permission for a job that's not lateral, you give permission."
Lucchino acknowledged that it is not "desirable" to hire a new manager without some certainty of who the general manager will be, but he said the team is "knee deep" in the process of hiring a replacement for Francona.
Asked whether Francona's departure was a mutual decision, Henry said: "We really didn't get a chance to make it mutual. Would we have ended up in the same place he ended up? There's a strong likelihood we would have."
Lucchino said the club was not ruling out older, established managers as candidates to replace Francona. Henry described his ideal candidate as "highly intelligent, communicates with players, gets the best out of players, lean toward a players' manager."
The most important quality? "That he fits into the organizational philosophy," Henry said.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.