Compensation for Epstein going down to the wire

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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  • IIRC, didn't Selig set up the whole business about the Henry group taking over Boston, and Loria in Montreal taking over Florida when Henry moved up and MLB took control of the Expos so that it could shake down DC or what ever city from which it could get the most money? So. Henry is going to cross his mentor now?

    Thus, one way or the other, this is a set up, and I wouldn't agonize over it.

  • In reply to jack:

    Excellent point, Jack. That's an angle I hadn't considered.

  • I hope Selig is not going by Theo name and legacy. If so, the Cubs will get burned. I hope all players drafted (including international players) this year are off limits.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Selig has been around long enough to remember when McPhail was a big name amongst execs too. I don't think he'll get swayed by that.

    I didn't include those recently signed players as possibilitites because they cannot be moved until next summer -- and everybody wants this resolved now.

  • I think the Cubs are the big winners in this compensation battle, because I would assume Selig will be reasonable. The Cubs never acted deperate, and got their man. I am not worried that the prospect(s) will be Lou Brock. The point with him is that we intentionally dumped him; this would be different.

  • In reply to johnbres2:

    John, I couldn't agree more. Early on there were people out there willing to give up anything, even Castro and/or Garza, to get Epstein. The Cubs stood firm and they'll wind up giving something a lot more reasonable. It won't even be as much as McNutt, in my opinion. I can see them giving up is someone like Carpenter or Flaherty at the very most. I've heard there's some interest in Jeff Baker, whom Boston was interested in acquiring before the deadline.

  • There is two ways to look at it. By letting it be decided by Selig the Sox either are asking too much or they believe the Cubs are asking too little. If the Cubs were offering Carpenter, don't u think the Sox would take him? I think the Cubs are offering a low risk high reward guy because that's what they think it's worth. And the sox want someone with a little more definitive return. What level of player do u think the sox would agree to? I think the sox asking for Garza and Castro made the Cubs be a little difficult as well.

  • In reply to Break The Curse:

    I don't think the Cubs were offering even as much as Carpenter, to be honest. Threw that out there as maybe the top end that they'll give up.

    You would think Flaherty is fair compensation. He's almost certain to contribute at the major league level as a supersub type player. My speculation is that the Red Sox want a starting pitcher. It won't be McNutt, so then you have to start looking at guys like Nick Struck, Chris Rusin, or if they want to gamble on a bit more upside, Dae Un Rhee or Jeffrey Antigua.

  • I think you hit the nail on the head John, the Red Sox are looking for starting pitchers. I have a feeling that the Cubs are offering the likes of Flaherty or Carpenter , while the Sox are wanting Cashner or McNutt. If the Cubs walk away giving up guys like Carpenter or Rusin, that would be fair to me.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Buster Olney is now also saying that Selig won't give the Red Sox much. Olney has been pretty unbiased and accurate throughout this Theo process.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John,

    I know that the compensation to the Padres won't be completed until after the Red Sox discussions are over, but have you heard any names that might be on that list?

  • In reply to supercapo:

    No names but they are second, maybe even third tier prospects. I imagine that we have to wait for Boston to choose their prospect first in case they (or more accurately, Bud Selig) want to choose someone from that list.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way, but with the Cubs getting two major front office guys from San Diego, who were signed for more years in their contractual obligations, you could make the argument that the Padres deserve a bigger, better return than Boston does. I know that the Sox will say that Theo is the key and is assuming a larger role in reshaping the Cubs, but it seems to me that the Padres are losing as much if not more than the Boston. Especially since Theo himself said that he had plans to leave the Sox after 2012 anyway.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    I don't think you're looking at it the wrong way at all. The Padres lost 2 key figures with more time left on their deal. The only argument Boston could make was that Epstein was more successful, but then again McPhail was equally successful before he came to the Cubs. They don't have a leg to stand on, in my opinion. They're just blowing a bunch of hot air, trying to set an example -- implying that their GM is more important than other team's GMs. It's baloney, and I think everyone outside of Boston knows that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John,

    Do you think that Boston will realize how unrealistic they are being and push hard to make a fair decision before Bud gets involved? I can't think that there is anyone in the Boston brass who honestly thinks that Bud wouldn't throw out every effort and proposal that the Sox have made.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    If they were smart and put baseball ahead of their pride and sense of entitlement they would. I can envision a scenario where they agree and say they "had" to take a certain player rather than risk taking what Selig would give them. I'm expecting though that they'll let Selig make the decision then allow their media to cry foul.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Regardless of what the Sox brass says or thinks, they won't have a leg to stand on once Bud gets involved. Boston has lost a large number of front office execs over the past 5-10 years and they have always let them go gracefully. No long protracted debates over compensation. Bud is going to see this for what it is, an attempt to punish Theo for thinking that he has the "right" to walk away from the Sox. I would like to be a fly on the wall when he tells Henry and crew to pull their heads out. If they didn't want Theo to leave, they should have never allowed him the option of talking to the Cubs.

  • In reply to supercapo:

    According to Olney, Selig doesn't want to raise the perceived value of GMs and execs in general, so their compensation won't be a whole lot.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm thinking we either get Mcnutt or another of the top 3. Anyone else in the cubs farm would be unacceptable compensation for Theo. Hopefully Selig agrees with his friends in Boston.

  • In reply to Mike:

    That's not going to happen, Mike. Selig is loathe to set a higher market for GMs and make a special case for Theo. Red Sox nation expecting a top prospect are going to be very disappointed. If you get someone like Carpenter, that's a good haul. 100 mph fastball, nasty slider, improving command. McNutt's not going anywhere and if Selig makes the decision they may not even get Carpenter. Red Sox people stand alone when it comes to valuing a GMs worth -- but I suspect it's more complicated than simple worth and fair value.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think Olney is right, the Red Sox won't get much at all. While it's a fact that Selig helped out Henry become the Red Sox owner, Selig is on the record about compensation for GM's and managers. Selig is adamant that teams not set demands for either a GM or a manager , everyone gets the same kind of compensation ( couple of minor leaguers) and that's it. The Red Sox were trying to set a new bar by saying Epstein was a elite executive and therefore they demanded "elite " talent for him. Selig is opposed to this, and when , not if, he gets involved he will demand the Red Sox accept a couple of minor leaguers, who will not even be elite ones at that. Like I said earlier the Red Sox should not have been jerks about this, because now they will not get much, if they were more reasonable they might have gotten a bit more.

  • Unrealistic expectations? That's Red Sox nation for you.

    It makes no sense. They win one world series, and all of a sudden they think it's reasonable for them to be consistently the best. It's as if they have forgotten about all of the hardships they had to go through before John Henry came around. Please tell me that this won't be the Cubs in 10 years.

  • In reply to elusivekarp:

    I hope not. I hope we can handle it with some class. But there's a lot of pent up frustration for Cubs fans and it wouldn't surprise me if some fans got a little cocky about it if we won a title -- maybe not right away, but possibly a few years down the line, especially if we win a second title.

  • did i get spamed?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I didn't see anything in the spam folder, ChiRy, except for some guy who tried to link his army training site.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ha, definitely wasn't me, lol.

    I was just agreeing that it's clear, for the reason you list, that Henry & the Sox are trying to save face & have Selig tsetup to blame after it is all said and done. Pathetic creeps.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    It's the explanation that makes most sense to me. They certainly can't think that the Cubs will cave and give them a top prospect. Boston lost it's leverage with the original decision to let the Cubs make the announcement and decide the compensation later. You would think they would settle for what's fair at this point, but nothing Boston has done at this point seems to make a lot of sense.

  • Thanks for the memories, Aramis:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-ramirez-tells-cubs-hell-become-free-agent-decline-16-million-option-20111030,0,4026407.story

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Wow. That sort of worked out as planned so far. Next step is to offer him arbitration and at least get a draft pick out of it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    It's working out very nicely so far. He did some good things here, helped to make the playoffs 3 times, but he's not a Theo type (3rd worst in P/PA) & is not at fit moving forward. His bat (at times) will be missed, but not much else.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Well said...he was a good player for us for 10 years but it just might be the right time for both parties to move on.

  • Henry wants to hold get something tangable for Boston fans after giving away Theo. The name we're hearing so far is Trey Mcnutt. I'd be surprised if we don't get him in the end.

  • In reply to Mike:

    As i replied above, Red Sox nation should be prepared to be disappointed in their return. Your media and ownership have set unrealistic expecations for compensation. Ironic because your team was unwilling to give up Kevin Youkilis for Billy Beane, who was not even a top 100 prospect at the time.

    Selig is not going to set a new market by making a special case for Theo. Selig actually favors cash as compensation. That won't happen as the teams have already agreed that it would be a player, but they'll get more in line with what has been done in the past, so a guy like McNutt would be above and beyond what will be necessary. Expect someone like Ryan Flaherty or Chris Carpenter at the high end.

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