I don’t apologize for the relative delay in today’s Theo update – I am not one to post things just to post things, and if there wasn’t anything to say, I wasn’t going to say anything. Of course, after a certain amount of time – and after yesterday’s hoopla about what would be happening today – an update is necessary, even if there isn’t much to say. And, I guess there’s at least a little to say.
- Well, I violated my own, newly-established rule yesterday. No, not as a writer, but as a fan. The rule? Don’t believe anything about anything with respect to a Theo Epstein deal until the press conference is announced by the Cubs. But when both Dave Kaplan and Bruce Levine – the only two locals who’ve had a decent beat on this thing – say the deal is basically done and a press conference is happening, it’s hard to obey that rule. As things stand, a press conference is looking unlikely today, and the next open day is Tuesday.
- So, what happened? Obviously Levine and Kaplan were getting their info from the same source, and that source was either overly optimistic, or openly full of shit. Other local media members are speculating that the source is none other than Cubs’ President Crane Kenney (which would certainly explain why Kaplan and Levine are typically among the first to defend Kenney, while the rest of the media abhors him for reasons that remain obscured to peons like us).
- Kaplan provided an update just a few minutes ago, saying the “parameters” of a deal remain in place, and things are still “on track,” but because Red Sox brass are still taking things personally, they won’t finalize the deal until they’re good and ready. Though Kaplan doesn’t say it, that sounds to me like they are still holding out hope for a little more scratch. About the scratch – the compensation – Kaplan doesn’t know anything more today than he did yesterday. A deal could be finalized at any time.
- Speaking of the other Chicago media, this issue has raised a bit of a divide between Paul Sullivan and Gordon Wittenmyer, who blame yesterday’s “leak” by Kaplan and Levine for the delay in the deal. Wittenmyer goes so far as drop this bomb: “Amid breathless tweeting and over-reaching blog posts by some Chicago media, the Cubs finished Thursday a lot like they started it: waiting for a compensation deal that has been inevitable for more than a week to get done in time to announce Theo Epstein’s hiring as the team’s baseball boss Friday.” Careful boys, this cat’s got nails.
- The Boston media, on the other hand, is doing a great job of living into its own stereotypes. Nick Cafardo is shilling for Boston brass (“A source close to Epstein said he is prepared for whatever the outcome is. If the sides can’t agree on compensation, he would return to Boston’s front office. From the Cubs’ perspective, it would be difficult to sell anyone other than Epstein as their savior after he has been built up so much.”), and Pete Abraham is taking shots at Epstein on the way out (“You have to hand it to Theo Epstein. He has spent approximately $450 million over the last three seasons without a playoff win to show for it and got the Cubs to give him a five-year deal with $18.5 million. That’s impressive.”).
- As I noted last night, Bud Selig has admitted he may have to get involved to force a settlement. I remain of the belief that Selig would be on the Cubs’ side (in this instance). If big market teams can start hoarding young, up-and-coming front office talent, and then demanding huge returns when other (small market, for example) teams come calling with a promotion offer, the league loses parity. Bud don’t like that.
- As for the San Diego piece of this business, it still looks good for Jed Hoyer to join the Cubs as GM eventually, but it’s pretty clear the Epstein compensation fight is holding things up. No one has reported why – technically, Tom Ricketts could just interview and hire Hoyer – but my guess is, for reasons not perfectly clear, “interviewing” and “hiring” Hoyer is Epstein’s job. Hoyer is sticking to “no comment,” and Josh Byrnes – the man who would replace him in the GM seat in San Diego – says, “hopefully we’ll know soon.” So, we wait.
- I also noted last night that at least one report said San Diego would be receiving compensation for the Cubs’ purloining Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod. That report is picking up steam, and the prevailing opinion is that (a) the Padres will get a couple of low-level minor leaguers (which, by the way, as a tip to the mainstream media: “low-level” doesn’t mean that the kids aren’t excellent prospects – some of the Cubs’ best prospects are currently at High A or lower), and (b) there won’t be a fight about it. Still – I’m gun shy, even if San Diego does-not-equal Boston.