Theo comp has become the Michael Myers of the Cubs offseason. Just when you think it's been laid to rest, it suddenly wakes up, grabs your leg and leaves you kicking and screaming once again.
Now it appears that, Chris Carpenter, the main piece of the compensation is now scheduled to have surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington confirmed that Carpenter is having surgery, but would not comment on whether the injury predated the Feb. 21 trade with the Cubs or when Carpenter might return. My understanding is that the procedure takes about 8-12 weeks to fully heal and return to pre-injury activities.
So as you can imagine, Boston nation is up in arms over this. On WEEI, they are saying, "Theo porked them" (h/t reader/contributor Cliffy).
I don't think it's quite that simple.
After all, this compensation matter dragged on for months and Jed Hoyer did mention that Chris Carpenter was one of the names that came up early. So why didn't the Boston medical staff bother to check out Carpenter thoroughly? This is a pitcher with a documented history of elbow problem, although most of his issues were back from his college days. The Cubs decided to make him a reliever partially because they didn't think he would hold up as a starter.
This was the player they agreed on. He wasn't foisted on the Red Sox against their will. I don't think they should be portraying themselves as the victim here.
As far as we know, Carpenter was fine. He was dealing his usual heat in the AZ Fall League, approaching triple digits much like he did last season. He came to camp without any problems as far as any of us knew.
Even if the injury did predate the trade, then my guess is nobody knew about it, not Theo, not Cherington, probably not even Carpenter himself. If there was no intent, then there is no wrongdoing and the deal will stand.
Update: As I was writing this piece, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo wrote his own article on the issue. Here's the important info...
The Red Sox had complete access to Chris Carpenter’s medical records, the pitcher had passed both his Cubs physical and also his Red Sox physical after he was dealt to the Red Sox as compensation for Theo Epstein, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The Red Sox will likely not receive a different player from the Cubs because everything was up front and out in the open.
I don't blame Cherington if he's upset about this. He's a new GM with an overbearing boss. This compensation matter was tremendously important to Larry Lucchino, so much so that it seemed to dominate the Red Sox offseason news. For Cherington to negotiate for a player who winds up hurt after just 1.2 innings of spring training doesn't reflect well on him, even if it's just a case of bad luck.
The hope here is that it doesn't affect future negotiations between the two teams, but there's one thing I feel fairly certain about. I don't expect the Cubs to get anyone of value on their end of the compensation. Not that anyone in Chicago really cares. We just want this whole saga to end once and for all.
But it just keeps coming back.