Bud Selig expects that he will have to make the compensation decision on November 1st. He has said this for a while now.
It tells me that the sides are still far apart. The fact that the Cubs and Red Sox still can't agree, despite now having Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod to help make that decision, also tells me that the Red Sox are still being unreasonable.
Remember when Peter Gammons floated that ridiculous story that compensation was an issue because the Cubs were handling it incompetently? All he had to do was even hint that Crane Kenney might be involved and the Chicago media ran with it. Obviously, there's not a Cubs fan out there that wants Kenney involved. The point is that some are so eager to make him the villain that the mere suggestion of his involvement sent them into a blinding rage. They actually bought this little piece of Red Sox disinformation with little question.
Well, now we have one of the most competent front offices in the game and it still can't get done. The Cubs have already agreed on a list with the San Diego Padres for compensation. Should anyone out there still put this on the Cubs or does anyone still think Kenney is involved?
There are good reasons to believe the Red Sox are the team holding this up. First of all, they are angered by Epstein leaving and want to set an example. Secondly, they have already set unreasonable expectations for their fans by setting the parameters as somewhere between Starlin Castro, Matt Garza, Brett Jackson, or at the minimum, Trey McNutt.
The Red Sox have been a PR disaster this offseason while at the same time being obsessively image conscious. Remember owner John Henry making an unannounced visit to a radio station to clumsily defend his team's actions? And, of course, there's the spin put out by Red Sox media mouthpiece Gammons that the Cubs were the ones acting foolishly during the compensation process.
So now, does anybody really think they're going to voluntarily choose a prospect that most of their fans have never heard of? They're going to sit back and wait for Selig to make the decision. Then they can spin it again and say, hey "We wanted Castro, Garza, or Jackson, it was Selig who ripped us off." Blaming Selig for anything in baseball is almost as easy as blaming Kenney for anything in Chicago. It will sell just fine in Boston and the Red Sox will get to save some face.
This is why I'm not worried about compensation: for better or for worse, Selig has been opposed to teams setting new markets. In fact, it's been said he favors cash as compensation for executives leaving. That won't happen, however. He'll likely follow some sort of precedent in this situation, and if that's the case, precedent favors the Cubs.
We know that in a very similar situation, the Cubs gave up their 10th best prospect when they signed Andy McPhail away from the Twins for a similar promotion. We also know the Cubs and Padres have already agreed on a list of players for signing away another excellent GM, Jed Hoyer, with 2 years left on his contract. This was obviously a list with which the Cubs felt comfortable. Is Selig going to say Hoyer and McPhail are worth let's say a B or C level prospect, while Epstein is worth the Cubs best prospects?
Not a chance. At best it will be a good prospect, but it won't be one of the Cubs top young players. It won't be Jackson, Szczur, or McNutt. It probably won't even be someone like Josh Vitters. Jim Callis of Baseball America has said of the potential compensation, "it won't be anyone that Cubs fans will worry about".
Of course, there will always be some worry, because we are Cubs fans after all. The dread is that no matter who we give up, even if he's the 25th best prospect in our organization, he'll be star one day. It's the Lou Brock syndrome.
For the Red Sox, though, the most important thing for them isn't really so much the prospect. They don't want to cast the image that they are losers in this affair and let Epstein go for less than top value.
They'll let Bud Selig do that for them.
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