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: Jul 22, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2011 11:15 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

I will take ANY of Theo's "Busts" over Dan Duquette's busts - "Dominican Mystery Man" Robinson Checo, Tuffy Rhodes, Dwayne Hosey etc. ANY day of the week!
Plus Theo didn't give you as a Sox fan a feeling of contempt the minute he opened his mouth or you saw him on camera like Duquette did.
Duquette always got WAY too much credit for those great Expo teams when it was Dave Domnbrowski who did most of the work, and as for Duquette apologists who say he built the '04 Sox, I say BS! It was Theo who brought in Millar who was a spark for that team and it's heart & soul, it was Theo who brought in Dave Roberts who, if he hadn't stole second against the Yankees in the ALCS the Sox wouldn't have won the  title, it was Theo who made the Schilling deal - another HUGE reason the Sox won that season.
It was Theo who brought in Tito who kept that clubhouse together with all it's big personalities and focused them on winning.
It was Theo who hired all the coaches that helped Tito keep the team focused, Theo is also the one who moved Nomar to the Cubs - a courageous move, it would be like Cashman moving Jeter, when he felt he needed a change at SS, it was Theo who brought in Orlando Cabrera who played a good SS, had some timely hits and kept the clubhouse loose, it was Theo who brought in Bellhorn who though unheralded got some key hits and provided a steady back up infielder.
For all you Dan Duquette apologists you're dead wrong when you say that he deserves credit or a ring for the Sox winning in '04 because if you look at the difference makers who pushed that team over the hill and got them the championship it was Theo who brought them in and NOT Dan Duquette.
As a Red Sox fan I will be forever grateful to Theo for all he did for the club, I'm disappointed with how he's parting with the team but it's time to move on and the Sox need to make sure they get some sort of good compensation from the Cubs, 2 second tier players don't do it for me, a top tier prospect or perhaps a player like Aramis Ramirez who by all accounts is going to opt out of his deal in Chicago anyhow would be fine with me. Don't need cash, just get me a quality player or two and of course wish Theo all the best in  his future with the Cubs.

Since: Jul 31, 2011
Posted on: October 13, 2011 9:47 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

everyone jumps on crawford...he had a bad year new big city ,bright lights and a packed stadium it takes some getting used to for aalot of people!!! he is going to kill it this year coming reason to think he wont. as for theo he brought something to the red sox that took a looooooong time....thats the world series title (2) yeah there have been some busts with all his signings but show me a team that has never signed someone that didnt live up to expectations....guarantee no one can name a perfect gm. i will miss theobut we need new blood.

Since: Jun 25, 2010
Posted on: October 13, 2011 9:47 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Good luck finding compensation in the form of talent coming out of the Cubs farm system. That's why they need someone like Epstein - THERE IS NO TALENT. Obviously, the Red Sox will not take one of the Cubs bad Hendry contracts, so the only compensation question is - would the Cubs be willing to take a Red Sox bad contract in trade for a Cubs good contract. This would saddle Epstein with his own bad contracts as well as Hendry's bad contracts. Not promissing for Cub nation.

Since: Jul 30, 2009
Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:45 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Fukudome was traded to the Indians during the 2011 season.

Since: Nov 14, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:25 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

compensation - Lackey for a minor league pitcher, no additional money.

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:04 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

Alfonso Soriano$19,000,000
Kosuke Fukudome$14,500,000
Marlon Byrd$5,500,000

There is the starting cubs outfield.  Hardly chump change!

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 7:48 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

If they want Theo...they MUST take Lackey and his bloated contract!

Since: Jan 19, 2009
Posted on: October 13, 2011 7:42 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

miller mentions crawford, lugo, lackey as bad signings  dont forget  renteria SS, cameron, Drew,Dice K,  jenks, tanzawa, etc.    Epstein was brilliant in player development and trades.  He was very poor in free agent signings and his IMMATURITY was deadly especially when the team became littered with big signings.  When we won in 04 it was a brilliant patchwork of scrappers, a prior regime signed  super
star, and tremendous mid level trades. They were very focused at the game in hand and francona had their attention.  All except Manny (the superstar) toed the line, he answered to no one except (especially epstein) so francona had no clout.  This continued as epstein at the behest of henry and his ambition to show he can match money with Yanks. So they went on a spree of bad free agent signings (not just because of production but CHARACTER) with Henry's backing.  Drew always a malcontent and a malingerer always played only 120 gms  EXCEPT on a contract yr, they sign him for 17 million.  Not only doesnt he produce (except that homer against cleve in alcs 07) but hes a malcontent  and there is no one backing francona if he is disciplined or questioned about his injuries.  Epstein finally enforced his will on ramirez made him look foolish then made  a nice trade to rid the team of that cancer.  The irony is the impetus for this run (04-07) was the ridding of the cancerous  garciapparra.  The problems on this team far transcends talent.  We're in for a tough stretch.  The clubhouse mentality has to change  and whats scary is that the young good talent is infected, like Lester.  So now you must change the mentality with a new GM new MANAGER and a bunch of malcontent fat long term contracted players.  I hope i'm wrong 

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:22 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

i dont know where you get your info but soriano makes more than crawford

Since: Jan 10, 2010
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:12 am

Don't underestimate compensation in Theo-ball

gonna be the worst 5 years of your life theo.

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