While local writers fawn over Theo, so smitten that they volunteer to give Boston anything they want just to have him here as quickly as possible, there's one thing they all lack.
We expect that lack of perspective from Steve Rosenbloom, who is willing to give up Matt Garza and/or Starlin Castro to get his hands on Theo. What makes this deliciously ironic to me is that Rosenbloom is a big fan of world class poker. Yet no writer out there is willing to fold faster and in more spectacularly disastrous fashion when it comes to compensation negotiations.
We read also that the usually more rational David Haugh is willing to give up any player except Starlin Castro.
The premise for such thinking is this: Theo = World Series and nobody else offers that chance. The logic is that Theo won 2 World Series in Boston, therefore he should be able to do it here in Chicago.
Let's rewind the clock 20 years.
The Cubs were headed downhill after showing glimpses of hope in the mid and late 1980s. This was a town that could almost taste the World Series. Dallas Green had raised the bar in Chicago before he left. This was no longer a team that had no hope to make the playoffs. They had done it in 1984 and then again in 1989 with a team largely built by Green (and subsequently dismantled by Jim Frey). The poor performances in the early 90s were no longer acceptable. The Cubs needed to raise the bar once again.
So they brought in a ringer. A genius, some even said. They brought in a guy who had won two World Series already. He built a productive farm system and teams built around homegrown players. When it came to acquiring players, he was adept at exploiting market inefficiencies, not in the modern statistical sense, but by researching performance patterns by players. He knew how to find guys off the scrap heap and found treasure in the discarded. He was a unique talent who seemingly had an uncanny sense for acquiring players cheaply just when their careers were about to rebound. And he did this in a small market. Surely, he could do even better in a large market like Chicago. Right?
That man, of course, was Andy McPhail.
No matter what you think of him now, he was Theo Epstein back then. If you were a Cubs fan, you were giddy with excitement. This guy is going to finally bring a title here to Chicago. If he could do it in Minnesota, he could do it here.
Twenty years later, we still don't have that title. It just wasn't that simple.
What we paid for McPhail back then was a decent, but not great pitching prospect named Hector Trinidad. He ranked 10th per Baseball America at the time in a system that was much weaker than the one we have today.
Looking back on it now, would you have been so eager to trade the Cubs best players at the time? In case you have forgotten, they were Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace. Would McPhail have been worth it?
In retrospect, no. Not even close.
Yet you have both Boston writers and Chicago writers insisting that Theo Epstein is worth one of the Cubs top players or prospects. Why? Because Theo has won two World Series. Because he is a genius. Because he is a unique talent with an uncanny ability to find talent where others cannot.
In the famous words of Spanish-American philospher and essayist George Santayana,
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it"
That's not to say the Cubs shouldn't bring in Theo Epstein. I'm only saying that they do it with a sense of perspective.