So ensconced in our minds is the Theo-Epstein-to-the-Cubs-compensation-fight issue that almost all of today’s bullets are about just that. Given the importance (and the day of the week – it’s Saturday, yo), I suspect you’ll understand…
- A Major League source tells Dave Kaplan that part of the reason Boston is digging in its heels in negotiations with the Cubs is because of a personal vendetta against Theo Epstein. According to Kaplan’s source, “[Red Sox President] Larry Lucchino is one of the most unreasonable people I have ever dealt with and because of his frayed relationship with Theo Epstein he is looking to make a point at the expense of Theo’s happiness and his desire to go to Chicago. I didn’t believe that ownership group for one second when they said that they wouldn’t stand in Theo’s way if he wanted out of Boston. They are furious that he wants out and they are trying to make a point.”
- The same source makes the point I’ve been making for days, namely that the only leverage the Red Sox have is threatening to cut off talks, and forcing Epstein to sit on the sidelines for a year. Unlike me, however, this source seems to think it’s genuinely possible that Lucchino and Red Sox owners would be willing to do that, thus making themselves the greatest villains in all of sports. And, you can be sure, if that happens, I will lead the charge that no one will ever forget how small, petty, pathetic, and disgusting that group of men is.
- If the deal does go through – and it almost certainly will (more on that in a bit) – you can expect a number of “leaks” to the Boston media about what an awful executive and person Epstein really is, if past precedent offers us any value. You will be instructed to ignore those “leaks.”
- Speaking of the deal going through, as noted yesterday, Red Sox owner John Henry was on the radio yesterday (he heard some talk radio guys trashing him, so he drove to the station and asked to be put on the air – balls), and he essentially said Theo is gone (he said he was sad to see “them” go, referring to deposed manager Terry Francona and Epstein). After the interview, outside the station, he went on to say that Epstein’s leaving was “not a surprise.” Again, I ask: how exactly do these guys have any leverage? Just make a reasonable deal, guys (something Kaplan’s source says Tom Ricketts is ready and willing to do).
- Virtually everyone – media, pundits, me – believes that a compensation deal for Epstein will be completed by early next week, with Epstein being announced as having joined the Cubs some time before the Wednesday start of the World Series.
- The Cubs’ Spring Training facility deal is just about officially official. The team would start playing there in 2014 – I can’t wait to check it out.
- ESPN Chicago’s Sahadev Sharma runs down nine prospects in the Cubs’ system who are Epstein’s “type” of prospects (i.e., kids Epstein will be happy to have in the system).
- One of those prospects, outfielder Brett Jackson, was removed from his Team USA game last night mid-game, leading to two frantic minutes of Twitter speculation that he’d been pulled because he was being traded to the Red Sox … which was, of course, ridiculous, because why would a guy be pulled mid-game from a Team USA game because of a trade affecting his professional team? Naturally, Carrie Muskat blasted the rumor by noting that Jackson had strained his foot, and was being pulled for precautionary reasons. It might be the first time in history Cubs fans were relieved to hear that their top prospect was hurt.
- Totally random, meta bit of fun – as the proprietor of a web site whose success or failure is largely based on the number of folks who peruse this here place, I track various visitor statistics. Predominantly, I track how many people are here, when, and what they’ve read (helps me figure out what things you all like, and what you don’t like). But I also track how folks arrive here – directly, Twitter, Facebook, other sites, etc. A frequent method is via the ‘ole Google search. Why am I telling you all of this? Because sometimes, people arrive here via hilarious Google searches, and I saw one yesterday that I just had to share. Drumroll … “How much did Prince Fielder weigh when he was 1?” Yup. That’s how someone found Bleacher Nation. It fills the heart with pride.