Theo Epstein Compensation: Cubs Get Robbed in Deal

Tommy StokkeCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 14:  Chris Carpenter #60 of the Chicago Cubs, making his Major League debut, looks for the signs against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on June 14, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Brewers 5-4 in 10 innings.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox couldn't decide the right compensation for Theo Epstein leaving Boston to become the President of Baseball Operations in Chicago, I didn't have a good feeling.

That feeling got worse when the decision was to be made by Commissioner Bud Selig.

That feeling became a reality when finding out the result.

Yes, I'm aware that the Cubs were forced to give the Red Sox the middle reliever Chris Carpenter, not Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter.

But the fact of the matter is the Cubs surrendered too much in this deal.

Carpenter is a 26-year-old reliever who boasts a fastball frequently reaching triple digits. In his brief stint in the majors last season, Carpenter posted a 2.79 ERA in 10 games for the Cubs. He struck out eight, but walked seven in 9.2 innings.

The numbers don't scream All-Star, but I believe Carpenter was on his way to becoming an integral part to the Cubs bullpen.

While improving his control was a must, Carpenter had the look and potential to be a future closer.

Carpenter posted a miserable 5.91 ERA in over 42 innings pitched in the minors, but at 6'4'' and 220 pounds, he still has room to grow and mature.

Carpenter would've had the benefit of learning from the likes of Kerry Wood and even Carlos Marmol, who has battled control problems while having the arsenal to be one of the top closers in baseball.

Don't get me wrong, Epstein will have a greater impact on the Cubs' future than Carpenter could have. But that isn't an excuse to give up more than enough for a general manager who was on his way out anyways.

Epstein always wanted more control in Boston, but Red Sox President Larry Lucchino was unwilling to relinquish his power. That, along with the collapse of the Red Sox last year and failed signings of Carl Crawford and John Lackey began bringing backlash to the general manager.

If the Red Sox were so worried about losing Epstein, then they shouldn't have given the Cubs permission to talk. But they knew that if he stayed, he would be a lame-duck general manager and more of a distraction than anything.

Part of the issue was the lack of precedent for such compensation. But that's not true. The Cubs made a similar move for a then-rock star general manager in Andy MacPhail. In 1994, MacPhail became the Cubs general manager after winning two World Series with the Minnesota Twins.

The Red Sox asked for names such as Matt Garza, Starlin Castro and Brett Jackson because there was "no precedent."

Get real.

The compensation for MacPhail? Class A pitcher Hector Trinidad. He never reached the majors.

MacPhail was Theo Epstein in 1994. While some may believe Carpenter might not be much, he already has major league experience. A 100-mph fastball has a lot more potential than a player lost in A ball on a road to a career spent in the minors.

Carpenter may never be the "other" Chris Carpenter, but he is too much for the Cubs to be forced to surrender for the man in the suit.


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