Theo Epstein Squeal Watch: Expectations Officially Set for Tomorrow (UPDATE)

Another tease? Actually legit? I’ve created a monster of my own skepticism, such that I can’t even bring myself to bear you confidence in the face of numerous reports that Theo Epstein to the Cubs will finally be announced tomorrow on the World Series’ first off-day…

  • Dave Kaplan was the first to report last night that there had been major breakthroughs in the Epstein compensation discussions, and that, if Bud Selig grants permission, the Cubs would introduce Epstein as the newest member of the Cubs’ front office tomorrow.
  • Shortly thereafter, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald concurred. Of course, their “sources” could be the same as Kaplan’s – or could be Kaplan’s report, without a mention of Kaplan (some folks are unscrupulous like that) – so some measured caution is appropriate.
  • Not everyone is hearing the same thing, by the way. Hours after Kaplan’s report, Phil Rogers wrote this: “With the sides apparently no closer to resolving the question of what Theo Epstein is worth to the Cubs, major league sources indicate Commissioner Bud Selig is monitoring the situation and weighing the need to try to facilitate a deal.” While I’m loathe to be optimistic, I think Kap’s probably a little closer to this one.
  • The Epstein compensation is expected to be a handful of prospects (two or more), but no one seems to know which prospects. Kaplan says it won’t include Major League players or Brett Jackson, which has been widely assumed for a while now. Because I might not get another chance to say it, let me say it now: from all that I’ve read and heard over this last week, I believe Red Sox President Larry Lucchino is being unreasonable in his demands. I also believe the Red Sox will get more from the Cubs than the probably should have, and that’s because of Lucchino’s unreasonableness. So, hasn’t he done a good job for his team? As a former litigator, this is all too familiar to me. The best argument didn’t always win in negotiations – too often, the bigger, more obstinate asshole won. And they were celebrated for it. Just something to think about when we, inevitably, curse Lucchino.
  • For his part, top Cubs pitching prospect Trey McNutt was surprised to hear his name come up in discussions. “I just thought it was a joke …. I just didn’t think [the Cubs] would trade me, because we need the starting pitching. But anything can happen. That’s just how the world works …. [The rumor] just caught me by shock. I just didn’t think my name would be brought up, so I’m just going to sit and wait and see. Nothing’s probably going to happen until after the World Series, so that’ll probably be this time next week. You just kind of sit around and wait. Either way, they’re both good organizations. If they do trade me, sometimes organizations have to do things they don’t want to do and that’s just the nature of the game.” Here’s hoping that, if McNutt isn’t dealt (and I remain hopeful that the Cubs won’t have to give up that caliber of talent), Tim Wilken and/or Oneri Fleita make a beeline for McNutt to tell him, “We were *never* going to trade you.” These things can engender negative feelings over a long enough period of time if not squashed.
  • Kaplan’s report is a good read for reasons other than the Epstein announcement. In it, Kaplan quotes someone who interviewed for the Cubs’ GM position, who speaks highly of the process and of Tom Ricketts. “I was very impressed with Ricketts’ openness and honesty to do whatever it takes to make the Cubs one of the elite franchises in all of baseball,” the GM candidate said. “He is focused on the organization as a whole, not just a quick fix to stabilize the major league club. He is fully prepared to spend significant dollars on baseball operations and he is going to allow the next GM total authority. I wish it was going to be me but they are getting a great one in Theo Epstein and he and his staff should have the ability to appropriate how they want to spend the budget which should be in the area of 150 million dollars including the draft and amateur signings.” Is there seriously any more doubt that Tom Ricketts is the right man to be in charge of this organization?
  • Chris DeLuca, long quiet on Cubs’ matters, tosses his bozo hat into the ring of blithering columns of late. He claims Cubs’ President Crane Kenney has been leading the Epstein discussions, and has been bungling them, something that is so unbelievable as to neuter anything else DeLuca writes. He adds that the Cubs screwed up by not finalizing compensation for Epstein with the Red Sox before inking Epstein to a deal, which is a contention I’m deeply tired of hearing. Do people REALLY believe the Cubs just didn’t think about it? “Oops! Totally forgot about that whole compensation thing! Can we still work it out?” What’s far more believable - and what I’ve heard from sources – is that the parameters of an appropriate amount of compensation was outlined by the two sides before the Red Sox granted the Cubs permission to speak to Epstein. But when it came time to finalize that compensation, either one side changed its position, or, to be more kind, there was a fundamental disagreement about what those previously-agreed parameters actually meant.
  • UPDATE: Bruce Levine says the deal is almost done, and there will be a press conference tomorrow. (Inhale…)
  • UPDATE 2: Levine (and Kaplan) are now backing off their reports, saying things are still being worked out. I’m listening to Levine on the radio now, and it sounds like he’s pinning it on the Red Sox. From the sound of things, whatever hold-ups exist, they are coming from Boston, and they are not particularly reasonable. Levine also made it sound like some of our suspicions that the Red Sox are trying to use these discussions as an opportunity to save some face after all of the bad news (of their own making) are correct.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

151 responses to “Theo Epstein Squeal Watch: Expectations Officially Set for Tomorrow (UPDATE)”

  1. Fishin Phil

    When I was reading Kap’s article this morning, I got to the part you reference in bullet #6, and tears of joy ran down my cheeks.  I actually believe I will see a Cubs WS title in my lifetime.  It may be 4 or 5 years down the road, but I actually believe it for the first time.

  2. Brian

    There’s a Cubs board I post on (see you on there some too Brett) where I’m constantly arguing with a guy about Kenney. He’s totally fixated on Kenney and using him as a reason for all ills with the Cubs. He stops just short of insinuating that Kenney is blackmailing Ricketts with nude photos to stay involved. I always tell him that Kenney’s the highest ranking FO member not named Ricketts right now. So he HAS to have some level of involvement, but not the level that he (or now DeLuca) are suggesting. From my seat, any one that feels Crane will be allowed to meddle once Theo comes aboard is crazy. With Theo reportedly bringing Gilula, Kenney better toe the party line or his replacement will already be in place.

  3. CubSouth

    If the budget is going to be around $150 million, minus draft and amateur signings, would you believe Theo is going to try and spend the entire budget and go after big names, with the possibility of it being a down season, or would he get the key FA’s for a run at 2013 and simply save some of that money for the next off season?

    1. Brian

      I don’t think you see Theo blow the whole lump sum this year. I think he’ll sign anyone he feels he can get that will be key pieces in the near future and continue to build the organization through LA signings and the draft. Then you start to build a cash of prospects to land big time names in trade as well as FA signings. That to me is one of the bigger differences we will see. It always felt like Hendry thought he HAD to go get someone or the biggest name he could afford in FA any given year, even if that person didn’t fit into the direction or chemistry of the club. Well, some years (like this one), a lot of the names don’t help your team for the amount of $$ you’ll have to shell out. So I think you’ll see us spend if it’s someone that can help during the length of their deal, but not just because we need an immediate upgrade (even if it’s minimal) at a position.

      1. JulioZuleta

        Yeah, we’ll see what happens. I have to think they’ll make one “splash” type signing, but well see. There is a lot of money there, and it’s not like Ricketts is going to have the payroll under $110 next year. As it sits now, it’s at only 72 million (that will go up with arbitration, but may also go down with whatever we shed in Zambrano, Soriano, and Byrd). If Dempster opts out, which something tells me is a possibility, it will go down to 58 million, which would give us almost $80 million to spend going by this year’s payroll.

        Here’s a link that show’s salary commitment through 2016.

        1. Bails17

          The Soriano contract looks even worse when you open that link!  Damn!!!!

        2. Luke

          $80 million if Dempster opts out. Wow. So…

          $80 million
          - $10 million for a decent starting pitcher
          - $10 million for another decent starting pitcher
          - $10 million for a corner infielder (minimum, based on Pena’s contract)
          - $10 million for arbitration (very rough estimate… if you call a made up number an estimate)
          $40 million left to play with after making fairly minimal signings.

          That’s not bad. Unfortunately, there just isn’t that much this winter worth spending the money on.

          1. CubFan Paul

            gotta save $15-$20million for the Draft & International signings and we need Two corner outfielders ..B.Jackson in Center, Byrd in Left, Soriano gets traded to an AL team and a decent backup

            1. Luke

              How about LaHair in left, Jackson in center, Colvin in right, Byrd and Reed Johnson off the bench?

          2. hardtop

            Awesome spreadsheet, i did one like it myself some time ago.
            Im not seeing the math on some of this.
            If Demp opts out, which i dont think he will, i get 58.6 mil. of contract obligations. That’s a deceiving number: we are going to keep some of our current guys: arbitrate with some and give raises to others. if you take a quick peek on the interwebs to look at current salaries of position players similar to our arbitration eligible players, the outlay will be significant.
            garza alone will make more than his current 6 mil +/- (sadly, garza’s win loss record, though terribly deceiving and unfair, might play in the cubs favor when it comes to arbitration)
            it also depends how big of a bone they through starlin. he deserves a big bone but they don’t want to pay him too handsomely without a new contract and being years away from arb. eligibility.
            where do we go with utility guy? keep reed the steed (with a raise), settle for colvin, minor leaguer dejour, or proven veteran. if the latter, we cold have a couple mil tied up in someone.
            Then you have the bullpen: grabow will be gone (thank god, but void needs to be filled). do we want woody back? if so, will we get the bargain basement price? What about a guy like smardzja: do we pick up his option? sign a new deal? whats it take to keep him for a couple years? obvioulsy he’s been overpaid for at least two of the last 3 years, does he give the cubs a discount for that fact… i doubt it.
            i see demp staying and our payroll being around 90.7 +/- with no real 3rd baseman, no real 1st baseman, missing a no. 1 starting pitcher, depending on where cashner ends up: you could be missing a 5th starter or a bullpen pitcher, and missing an outfielder (assuming soriano plays elsewhere and byrd stays). if you bring up lahair and lemahieu at about 8 to 9 hundred thousand and you still have voids to fill. I’m speculating we are at about 92 million with gaps to fill (like to the tune of 30+ homers and 80+ rbi). if they end up keeping their major league payroll at about 120 mil., this give us 28 mil to sign two pitching studs (CJ Wilson and Edwin Jackson are not studs and probably not the long term solutions that their contracts will dictate).

            on the plus side, if theo is as good as we think he is, we should be able to get about 6 or 7 mil in combined credit for Z and Fonzie.

            1. JulioZuleta

              Yeah, it’s a good spreadsheet, i can’t take credit for it…it came from this website:


              1. hansman1982

                I was just going to recommend that website for all contract related things and previous years’ spending levels

        3. TWC

          That spreadsheet makes me really excited for the day when they non-tender Koyie Hill.

          1. Fishin Phil

            Unnamed sources indicate Koyie Hill and Mike Quade will be leaving the Cubs to open a diner in Ottumwa, IA.  Announcement to be made after the the World Series.

            1. TWC

              Can you imagine Koyie Hill as a fry cook?  He’d have to get his hand re-engineered to hold a spatula instead of gripping a ball.

      2. Kyle

        The splash signing doesn’t seem to be the Epstein/Hoyer style. They intend on building a long-term winner through the draft, and I don’t think they want the early opinion on their reign to be determined by one big FA signing.

        More to the point, I keep coming back to the story about all the due diligence that Boston did on Crawford before signing him. They went so far as to have a Private Investigator digging into him long before signing him. There hasn’t been time to do that sort of thing this time around.

        My guess is that Moyer will be focused on pitching. The Cubs could go a long way in 2012 with 2 or 3 extra viable MLB starting pitchers (assuming Zambrano is still not coming back). That’s not an easy task for one offseason.

        1. MichiganGoat

          I take it you mean HOYER?  Because Jamie Moyer is still rehabbing hoping to return to a rotation sometime next year around his 65th birthday.

        2. JulioZuleta

          I’m assuming you’re talking about Hoyer (Moyer), not to be a dick. I’m not saying they will make a splash just to make a splash, but why not throw 6 years 22.5 million at Fielder, or 5 years, 25 at CC? One thing that I would be completely fine with is if the payroll settled at, say $110 this year and Ricketts said something to the effect of “This year, the payroll is down 30 million dollars because we didn’t think there were any wise investments left to be made on the available players, however, the money we saved this year will be added to the draft budget for the next 10 years”.

          1. NC Fan

            I would be willing to see the Cubs take thier lumps in 2012 (agian) if they saved some money, didn’t make huge deals and focus on a cornerstone player, ie: Prince, King Albert, CC or even trade Alf to Seattle for King Felix. Seattle has been willing to take our garbage before, right? I say, set the eyes for world domination on 2013.

            1. Lou

              Or Yu Darvish, the Japanese pitcher raising some eyebrows for FA this year. TR might be wise to establish additional inroads, i.e. revenue streams in the Far East.

        3. CubFan Paul

          there will definitely be some kind of “splash” signing this offseason ..there’s too much money available this offseason and the attendance at Wrigley is trending downwards and without a “splash” it’ll definitely dip below 3 million next year (Wrigley has been losing on average 75,000 fans a year since Ricketts bought the team)

          1. JulioZuleta

            I’m not one for catering to the people just for the sake of putting butts in the seats, but I do think that this in this instance, the best man for the job and the best man to put people in the seats is the same guy. If they hire Ryno, I think the buzz he creates will fix the attendance issue pretty damn quickly.

            1. CubFan Paul

              Lol, Ryno can’t pitch, nor does he have the range to play to Third base or First, but i see your point

              1. JulioZuleta

                I bet he can play left better than Soriano. Plus, it would be kind of a cool Chicago baseball storyline, two very popular former infielders back to manage their respective teams. One is remembered for two things: getting his ass kicked by Nolan Ryan and making his leg bend like a straw, while the other is a Hall of Famer. Just further reestablishes the gap between the North and South side.

  4. Kyle

    The Crane Kenney Derangement Syndrome in the Chicago media fascinates me. It’s not hard to guess that he doesn’t play ball with them in terms of interviews and leaks, and so they can’t stand him, and no matter how hard you try to be professional, personal biases will always seep in.

  5. LouCub

    Phil, I ‘ve been following hte Cubs since 1977 and I completely agree with you,,It’s not going to be a matter of if, just a matter of when… Brett, are there any more updates on Jed Hoyer and when that could get done??

  6. Mike

    Brett that is a very astute observation. Unfortunately in the world in which live in every venue from the court to the street, it’s really become a common technique that he who finds the most loud, bombastic and often intimidating method wins. It doesn’t always take the same form and there are nuances, but there’s always a place that reason is trumped far too often by everything from I just want the SOB gone and out of here, to lets just shut him up. And unfortunately we live in such a politically correct society that the collective ethic is almost always to given in.

    I think it’s so fascinating that you and a lot of the blogs, the less traditional media outlets have done such an incredible job with this. For example the Tribune a pretty well respected paper, has really done a lousy job in general with the entire story and there discussion is very flawed. It reflects to some extent I think a lot of us have become fed up with arrogance and laziness as well as lack of knowledge of so many in the print and other traditional media. Anyway, you’ve done a remarkable job and congratulations on great work.

    And yes, I agree, by the end of the day your wisdom is likely to play out. I just hope people focus on the end, and understand this was a very difficult situation and there is no easy way to pull it off. And while we are not pleased with the economic reality and results of what we will give up, it always takes two to tango, and most of the time, you do get what you pay for. I would suggest we all need to concentrate on the commitment and willingness of the Tom Ricketts and his family to build a tradition of excellence and recognize, even with the Tribune that was light years ahead of the wrigley family, this is something really we haven’t seen. I think no matter how this ends up, it’s just the beginning and they deserve our respect and appreciation for a great commitment.

  7. Eric

    I don’t understand why for a week now all of Cubs nation has been saying how excited they are to get Theo, and how he’s gonna help the Cubs win, and possibly bring them to the WS. Cubs need to get this deal done. but nobody thinks they should have to give up any respectable players to get him. Theo is the best GM in baseball and probably will bring the cubs to a WS in the next few years.So stop complaining about the Red Sox trying to get the best deal for him. If the Cubs had a guy like Theo there now who understands how the business end of baseball works this deal would be done already. Can’t have your cake and eat it to Cubs fans.

    1. Kyle

      Because as much fun as it is to mark out for Epstein, the most exciting thing isn’t that we got him specifically. To me, the exciting part is that we wanted to hire a young, sabermetrically-savvy, analytical GM in the first place. Whether it was Epstein or Byrnes or Cherington or Friedman or whoever wasn’t important to me.

      So if Boston wants a high price for getting Epstein, I’d be just as happy to go sign Rick Hahn instead.

    2. hansman1982

      What precident is there for compensation reaching the levels of Matt Garza for FO personelle?

      Ideally we would like to hang on to McNutt but if he has to go to bring in Theo I think most fans wouldn’t care too much. Personally I would send Vitters

  8. Kyle

    And all this “World Series in a few years” talk is fun, but it’s nonsense. Fun nonsense.

    It’s going to take a few years for the results of Epstein’s organizational rebuild to be seen in the pipeline of prospects. When that’s complete, in 2015 or so, I believe the Cubs will be poised to make a run of playoff appearances similar to the Red Sox (8 in 10) or the Cardianls (8 in 12). It is statistically likely that a run like that will end in at least one WS championship, and surely at least one or two pennants.

  9. Eric

    Well if the Cubs front office wanted Rick Hahn we wouldn’t all be sitting around waiting for a deal to get done. Obviously they want Theo, so there gonna have to pay for him.

  10. Eric

    I agree Kyle. Maybe not 2 or 3 years but the point is he’ll build the Cubs a winning team for the future.

  11. Cubbies4Life

    A friend of mine here at the law factory is a lifelong Mets fan and never says anything good about the Cubs. A few days ago, while riding up in the elevator with me, he turned to me and said, “Theo Epstein, huh? Well… this is the first evidence I’ve seen in my lifetime that the Cubs finally want to quit dicking around, get to the World Series, and WIN it!” I feel the same way – but I didn’t confess that to him. BTW, Brett and bloggers – you have taught me so much about the behind-the-scenes goings on of the game and the team I love. Thank you!

    1. Dave

      I must agree. I found this website while looking for more info about Theo. I am glad I found it! Keep up the awesome job here Brett. My 2cents here: By seeing how well Ricketts has handled everything, He would have said these guys are off the table period. (Insert the names floating all over this sight – Jackson,McNutt, etc..). I said a year ago how excited I was to see a face to ownership. Now that face actually has something behind it also. Man, it is exciting to be a Cubs fan again!

  12. Sam

    Im really getting tired of Chris DeLuca, every time I read one of his columns I can feel my brain cells dying off.

  13. Fishin Phil

    I am squealing like a 12 year old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  My coworker are starting to stare.

  14. MichiganGoat

    Until the press conference actually happens and everything is offical this is what will be playing in my head:

  15. Mikey

    I can already see it! the Chicago Cubs stealing the spotlight in the World series. Cardinal fans are gonna hate us even more! :D

  16. Mikey

    Brett, Any idea who the players sent over will be? i know you have no idea but any guesses?

  17. Sean

    Skipper, I’ve heard various rumors that CC Sabathia is going to opt out of his contract. Will/Should the Cubs make a run for CC?
    And i TRULEY believe the Cubs can make the Playoffs next year by possibly-
    Signing Prince fielder & CC Sabathia.
    RE-signing aramis ramirez!
    here’s our possible pitching rotation-
    1- Sabathia
    2- Garza
    3- Dempster
    4-some unknown F/A.. cheap $
    5- wells/ cashner/ samardzija
    and here’s a look at our linup?

    1- SS Castro
    2- CF jackson
    3- 3B Ramirez
    4- 1B Fielder
    5- LF/RF Byrd
    6- C soto
    7- LF soriano
    8- 2B barney/lemahiu

    1. Luke

      If Sabathia opts out and genuinely looks for a new home (and isn’t just trying to get more money from the Yankees), then the Cubs absolutely should consider him.

      Unfortunately, I think Sabathia will opt out simply to get a better deal from the Yankees. He’s not going anywhere.

  18. Mike

    Paul Sullivan just reported the deal to be announced tomorrow. He also said its widely believed the Red Sox will get Trey McNutt and least one other lower minor league prospect.

    Might as well get that out of the way.

    1. Luke

      And Bruce Levine is saying on ESPN Chicago:

      “But the expected agreement will include Cubs minor leaguers, although not top prospects Brett Jackson, Trey McNutt and Matt Szczur, the source said. Cash will not be part of the compensation.”

      I’m guessing its Carpenter+ a mid-level guy.

      1. JulioZuleta

        Nice, the article was updated, it didn’t say that when I first saw it. Good News though. Chris Carpenter and a low level hitter i.e. Rebel Ridling.

        1. Luke

          Ridling just makes too much sense for Boston. Boston needed a right handed bat last season, and I can easily imagine Ridling making a career coming off the bench and bouncing balls off the Monster.

          Let’s hope Boston agrees.

          1. JulioZuleta

            Yeah, that would be a pretty realistic return. Chris Carpenter, at his age, is not that much of a prospect anymore. He still has value, but guys like him are not that uncommon. It would be a shame if we gave up McNutt; that’d be 2 straight years we gave up our number 1 SP prospect.

            1. hardtop

              i liked carpenter, mostly because of his velocity. i was hoping for some development in the control department but discovered he’s not as young as i hthought he was. its a gamble at any point, he could turn out to be a stud, but i would totally be okay with sending chris if it means we keep mcnutt and some of the other youngins’ with potential.

              god, this would be a relief. i cant wait for the cardnials ass stomping tonight so we can get on with the announcment.

              anyone else who’s seen cj wilson’s last 6 postseason starts as unimpressed as i am? he settled in last night, kind of, but i think he got a little lucky at 3 earned. i say let texas or someone else sign that hillbilly… i plan on the cubs being in the post season a lot in the future, and i’m not seeing this guy earning ace money.

              1. MichiganGoat

                Yosemite Sam Wilson, sure has lost a few million and a few years with his postseason performance, he seems to need the climate (in multiple definitions) of Texas to be effective.  Can’t imagine what he’d look like in April/May as a Cub.

                1. TWC

                  Yeah.  AND he doesn’t drink alcohol.  What an asshole.  How can you trust a guy who doesn’t take a drink?  In Chicago?!

                  1. MichiganGoat

                    How can you trust a Texan that doesn’t enjoy a drink, isn’t Shiners Bock what Texas mothers refer to as “formula”

  19. willis

    Although I don’t really like either, I tend to believe Levine more than Sullivan in about all things Cubs. So, here’s hoping that’s the case once again.

    Carpenter/Flaherty, Carpenter/LeMahieu or Carpenter/Cabrera is what I’m guessing.

  20. Mike

    Just read the latest Levine update, that should relieve a lot of folks, you guys are right….

  21. Sam

    What does anyone think about signing Votto or making a play for him?

    1. Luke

      I can’t imagine Votto being traded in the division.

      1. Sean

        And he’s stated before he hates the cubs. and after what he did to marlon byrd a few years ago in the playoffs? he can stay right there in cincy and rot.

  22. Sam

    Im not sure what his contract looks like but ive heard like 1-2 years left.. if traded and not resigned id like to see him in a Cubbie uniform..

  23. Nicky Z'zzzz

    First thing first for you, Mr. Theo. GET RID OF ZAMBRANO. then trade marmol while he’s still valuable and get some studly prospects back!

  24. Hawkeye

    Do we know a time for the press conference yet?  Who will carry it?  TV? Webcast?

    1. Fishin Phil

      I get off work at noon tomorrow, so I sure hope it is after that.

  25. Hawkeye

    My money is on a mid to late morning conference, CST.