Blog Entry

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Posted on: October 12, 2011 6:14 pm

Talk about a golden autumn for general managers. Billy Beane goes Hollywood in "Moneyball." Theo Epstein is about to go Wrigleyville in "Cubbyball."

What's next, the Martin Scorsese HBO documentary treatment for Brian Cashman?

Make no mistake, the Red Sox are on the verge of completing their most historically impactful deal since owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919.

Whatever side you're on in what suddenly has become a vengeful Theo Divide, the facts are that the man constructed two World Series winners in Boston. Whether or not he's run his course, whether he fueled the Red Sox's downhill slide by signing free agents John Lackey, Julio Lugo and Carl Crawford, he still brought two World Series titles to town.

You agree to allow that man out of his contract so he can move to the Cubs, it is a pivot point in franchise history.

While the principles for both the Cubs and Red Sox remained underground Wednesday, indications were that Epstein and the Cubs are handshake-deal close, if not even deeper into their budding new relationship.

Which does not necessarily mean it becomes official tonight or even tomorrow, for one very large reason.


That's the next step in this enormously complicated transaction, and it is significant enough to probably delay this deal from being completed for at least a day or two, and possibly through week's end, or the weekend.

Where Boston owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino are concerned, even if they've run their course with Epstein, both industry sources and Lucchino's history suggest that the Red Sox will extract a significant price from the Cubs before allowing Epstein out of the final year of his Boston deal.

Few in the industry are as sharp and as ruthless as Lucchino, whose negotiating tactics one industry source described as "conceal and delay" until usually gaining what he wants.

There are at least two schools of thought in the industry regarding what the Red Sox ultimately will demand from the Cubs.

The first goes like this: The Red Sox are loaded financially, and as such, will demand players in return. This isn't a franchise that needs more money.

But the flip side is this: If Boston receives, say, two second-tier players in exchange, then those players always will be linked to Epstein. And if he wins a World Series with the Cubs and the players fade as second-tier prospects usually do, then that becomes a lifetime source of embarrassment for the Red Sox.

Whereas, if an organization already flush with cash simply takes a few million back in compensation, that money will fade into history no matter what Epstein does in Chicago. Without a human face a prospect (or two or three) would bring back, the Red Sox could position the post-Theo narrative however they wish, explaining that they used the money to sign Free Agent A or toward Blue Chip Draft Pick B.

Though it happened more than a decade ago, it is instructive to look back to the end of the 1995 season, when Lucchino was president of the San Diego Padres and then-general manager Randy Smith turned in his resignation on the last weekend of the season so he could become Detroit's GM.

Because the Padres held a club option on Smith's contract, Lucchino refused to accept his resignation -- even though it was believed at the time that the Padres were not going to pick up Smith's option. Arduous negotiations then began for Smith's exit.

Lucchino finally allowed Smith to leave, but only after ensuring that Smith, in Detroit, would not be able to poach San Diego's front office, nor its farm system.

The separation agreement included a one-year moratorium on Detroit claiming any Padres players in the Rule V draft, as well as an agreement prohibiting Smith to take any Padres employees with him to Detroit.

A month later, the Padres did not renew the contracts of Steve Lubratich and Randy Johnson, and Smith hired Lubratich as an assistant GM in Detroit and Johnson as a special assistant/major-league scout.

"Larry's tough, there's no question about it," said Smith, now the Padres' director of player development, Wednesday from Arizona, where he was seeing San Diego's Instructional League club. "He's smart, and he's tough."

Right now, before they can finalize the deal with Epstein, that's the next path through which the Cubs must traverse.


Since: Aug 6, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2011 7:49 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Cubs fans will still be suckers! This is just another in a long line of "great moves that win WS next year" failures. It will be overhyped, oversold, overtalked and fail just as badly as the Big Noise in Chitown made every winter.

BOS will get more out of the compensation than anything Theo will do in Chicago.

Since: Nov 23, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 7:31 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

If the Cubs give up Castro to get epstien they are the stupidest group of people ever to grace baseball. This team has stunk for over a 100 years one more won't hurt then next season they can have both for nothing. Castro is the only cub worth having and what makes it even better is he still has his whole career ahead of him.

Since: May 20, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2011 5:56 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Interesting. Sabean is current longest tenured GM.



  1. Brian Sabean, Giants, 1996
  2. Billy Beane, Athletics, 1997
  3. Brian Cashman, Yankees, 1998
  4. Dan O'Dowd, Rockies, 1999
  5. Kenny Williams, White Sox, 2000
  6. Larry Beinfest, Marlins, 2002
  7. Dave Dombrowski, Tigers, 2002
  8. Jim Hendry, Cubs, 2002
  9. Doug Melvin, Brewers, 2002
  10. Theo Epstein, Red Sox, 2002
  11. Jon Daniels, Rangers, 2005
  12. Andrew Friedman, Rays, 2005
  13. Ned Colletti, Dodgers, 2005
  14. Dayton Moore, Royals, 2006
  15. Andy MacPhail, Orioles, 2007
  16. Bill Smith, Twins, 2007
  17. Ed Wade, Astros, 2007
  18. Neal Huntington, Pirates, 2007
  19. Frank Wren, Braves, 2007
  20. Tony Reagins, Angels, 2007
  21. John Mozeliak, Cardinals, 2007
  22. Walt Jocketty, Reds, 2008
  23. Jack Zduriencik, Mariners, 2008
  24. Ruben Amaro, Jr., Phillies, 2008
  25. Mike Rizzo, Nationals, 2009
  26. Alex Anthopoulos, Blue Jays, 2009
  27. Jed Hoyer, Padres, 2009
  28. Kevin Towers, Diamondbacks, 2010
  29. Chris Antonetti, Indians, 2010
  30. Sandy Alderson, Mets, 2010
Don't hate the player hate the game.

Since: Nov 19, 2010
Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:48 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

If Jackson had coached the Clippers instead of the Lakers, nobody would likely know his name
Yeah, it would be like those six rings with the Bulls never happened.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:46 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

@hooterville2:YOU are the idiot! The Cubs need to make a splash with Epstein, and the Red Sox know it. Why do you think the deal is taking so long? If the Red Sox want Soto the deal would have been done 2 days ago. OBVIOUSLY the Red Sox want the Cubs best player, and if the Cubs are so intent on getting Epstein, Castro will be dealt if that's part of the deal. If the Cubs decide to let the deal fall through, Boston can certainly pay the $8 million or whatever to Epstein to vacation a year.

Again i repeat, the Cubs should give up Castro if that's what it takes to get Epstein; they would be stupid not to. Again look in the mirror next time you call someone an idiot, idiot.

Since: May 30, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:24 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball have got to be kidding right?  Pena was not ONE of the problems?  So hitting 28 HR's, only 80 RBI's, walking 101 times, striking out 161 times, OPS of .810 and a BA of .225 from our cleanup hitter who made 10 million for this year is just dandy?  We could of gotten Lance Berkmann for a cheaper price since he wanted to play for the Cubs.......Pena was one of the MANY problems the Cubs had this year and I just HOPE that Theo doesn't decide to bring him back because of your arguments.  You like you take him.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 2:21 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Pena would work at DH.The only quetion's I have are:Is he any good at video games?Any bad hamstrings so he'd be able to bond with most of the team? Does he like beer & will he be able to keep up with the younger,more experienced drunks on this team?Pena's alway's been a can do kind of guy, so I'm sure he can adjust to the New & highly disappointing Boston Red Sox.

Since: Dec 3, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:40 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

This deal should be contigent on the Cubs taking Lackey.

Since: Sep 14, 2011
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:28 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Pena only signed a one year contract.  He's a guy that will hit 30 HRs, get around 100 walks but will strike out a lot plus play a good first base.  He did all those things.  Nobody should be shocked.  He was NOT one of the problems for the 2011 Cubs.

Since: Jun 17, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:08 pm

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

There is a relatively easy fix to this if for Epstein.

1)  Call the Red Sox bluff. If they were going to let Epstein go, they will let him go instead of paying him.
2)  If not, they weren't going to let him go, stay with the Sox another year, and head to Chicago next year, free and clear when your contract is honored and over. Shouldn't be hard for the Cubs to plug someone in there for a year, just to keep the seat warm.

Either way, the Sox don't fleece the Cubs or hold all the chips in the negotiations. If I'm Epstein, this is what I would do.

Honestly, with what's going down in Boston right now, there's a really good chance that if Epstein calls their bluff, he will get to walk away free and clear.

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