Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Sticking with the “everyone thinks” theme of the day…

  • Virtually all pundits – and yours truly – are in agreement that the ongoing Theo Epstein compensation talks between the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox will do nothing to derail the rock star Sawx GM from coming to the Cubs. Indeed, as I noted yesterday, those talks are nearly at a close, if they aren’t closed already.
  • The only salvo in last night’s Cardinals win? It ended the NLCS short of a Game Seven, opening up today and tomorrow for an Epstein announcement. As for how it will go down, you can expect to see either or both of the Cubs and Red Sox announce a press conference for later that day (whatever day it is), at which the team will introduce its new GM and/or President. When that press conference is announced, you can finally be free to set your squeals to “Bieber.”
  • As for those compensation talks, while they may be nearing a close, we still don’t have a great read on just what the Cubs will be giving up. I mentioned yesterday that a source is hearing names like Matt Szczur, Jay Jackson, and Ryan Flaherty (and, I was, of course, remiss in not pointing out that the Cubs would be far less happy to lose Szczur than the latter two), but it remains likely that the final name(s) (assuming the Cubs don’t fully get their way, and give up just cash) will include some lower-level, high-upside kids most of us are not intimately familiar with.

  • Tom Tango (known ’round the ‘net as Tangotiger), who has always been a forward thinker in the evolving world of baseball statistic and operations, offers an interesting approach to valuing Theo Epstein in trade. He likens the expected $18 million deal Epstein will sign with the Cubs to those of recently-signed MLB’ers, and concludes that Epstein’s annual value to a team is about $3.6 million. Because that’s comparable to a decent middle reliever’s salary on the open market, the question is: what would you give up for Matt Guerrier? Answer that, and you’ll have your Epstein compensation. It seems tricky to equate front office dollars with on-field dollars because of the vagaries of scarcity, MLB contracts, etc., but, as I said, it’s interesting.
  • The Boston Herald suggests that Epstein could be given the title of President, only, which would allow for more “promotions” for the guys he wants to take with him from Boston. The article adds that Epstein is considering Padres’ Assistant GM Jason McLeod, in addition to Padres’ VP of Baseball Operations Josh Byrnes, for positions in the Cubs’ front office. McLeod ran the Red Sox’s draft with Epstein before heading to San Diego, and could be in line to be the Cubs’ GM (as could Byrnes) if Epstein is “just” the President. The titles, as I mentioned on Saturday, are something of an academic discussion – what matters is which guys are in the Cubs’ front office, and who’s the boss (Epstein, and then Tom Ricketts).
  • In that same Herald article, there is this interesting point: “One resolution could be Epstein will not be allowed to take anyone [with him to Chicago from Boston], but that seems unlikely. Word would come out, eventually, about the personnel Epstein wanted to take and if that person was denied the chance to join Epstein and advance his or her career, hard feelings would naturally ensue. A promotion with the Red Sox could soothe hurt feelings, but if word spreads among Red Sox personnel that the owners denied employees’ career-advancement opportunities, it could hurt the Red Sox’ chances of signing front-office employees to new deals when current ones expire.” Did someone just say “leverage”?

  • As for whom Epstein might bring over – three names are mentioned: VP of Baseball Operations Brian O’Halloran, head trainer Mike Reimold, and Special Assistant Dave Finley. I know nothing about these men other than their titles, so I won’t embarrass myself speaking about them. Instead, I’ll just say: if Theo wants them, I want them.
  • Paul Sullivan discusses five other non-player trades, including Pat Riley, Bill Belichick, former Cubs’ executive Andy MacPhail (whom the Cubs acquired from the Twins back in 1994 for a top twenty-ish prospect, Hector Trinidad). Think Belichick would take a special assistant’s gig in the Cubs’ front office?
  • Paul Sullivan also writes that Epstein’s arrival in Chicago will usher in a slightly more statistically-and-sabermetrically-inclined era in the Cubs’ front office, which is only slightly less obvious than…
  • Gordon Wittenmyer writes that some Red Sox fans will miss Theo Epstein and some will not. Pulitzer!
  • Wittenmyer also takes the opportunity to dump on the incoming executive. “And this fifth-place team has miles more ground to make up than Epstein’s first-year Red Sox did, especially if he uses the $50 million coming off the books to make the kind of swing-and-whiff signings — right-hander John Lackey (five years, $82.5 million) and outfielder Carl Crawford (seven years, $142 million) — that plagued him in recent years in Boston.” Hey, prospective sources in the new front office: talk to me, not Wittenmyer. Kthxbye.

  • Bruce Levine has a good piece of advice for Epstein: “[S]tay away from putting a timetable on winning. Cubs fans have heard about 5-year, 10-year plans, since Dallas Green took over the team in 1981. This has been a common statement by every top baseball executive, that we’re going to win the World Series. That would be the wrong message to the Cubs fan base. The right thing to say is, ‘We’re going to be a playoff-caliber team every year, and if we don’t make the playoffs, that season is a failure.'” Agreed, completely. That’s the message I want to hear.
  • Phil Rogers expects many members of the Cubs’ current front office to remain once Epstein takes over. Some institutional memory preservation is important, so I do hope some guys stay on (though, beyond Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita, who are both staying, how many more are necessary?). Rogers suggests that one of the first orders of business for Theo should be a flight out to Las Vegas to meet with Greg Maddux, who was a special assistant under Jim Hendry. Maddux still isn’t looking for a full-time gig, but if he wants to continue on as a roving smart guy, fine by me.
  • Unbelievable. Will Carroll, whom I like quite a bit, this weekend tweeted, “[S]omeone just pitched the idea of sending Crawford with Theo. Intriguing idea. Salary relief instead of players?” Crawford, who just finished a miserable 2011 campaign, is owed about $122 million over the next six years, so, when Carroll tweets something like that, people start going nuts. The only problem? Carroll prefaced the tweet with “This is NOT happening, but….” Come on, people – it’s 140 characters, max. Read them all.

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