It looks like the rumors today will have a decidedly Cuban flavor, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. Until then, another familiar topic…

  • The Boston media continues to do what I suppose we expect them to do: beat the drum for the Red Sox to get an absurd level of compensation for the one year of Theo Epstein that the team lost (to a promotion, which was unavailable with the Red Sox). Nick Cafardo rightly notes that the fact that the circus has taken this long to be settled is nearly indefensible, but then bizarrely concludes that, because it’s taken so long, “it must mean the Sox will end up with a decent player.” To me, that’s, like, the opposite conclusion to draw from how things have played out.
  • Cafardo runs through a bunch of names as compensation that range from the hilarious (Travis Wood, Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Dillon Maples) to the tough-to-stomach (Matt Szczur, Trey McNutt, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell) to the really-you’d-want-that-guy-? (Reed Johnson). A good, but not top 10, prospect, and a hunk of cash. That’s what it should be. Cafardo believes it will be settled before the start of Spring Training, which has always seemed a highly logical end point. (As an aside, the chance that it’s a just-signed free agent like Reed Johnson seems inordinately small – Johnson just signed with the Cubs, and he did so for a reason. I have a hard time believing Bud Selig is going to rip a guy from the team he just chose to sign with to send him to some other team because of a compensation fight wholly unrelated to that player (at least not without the player’s permission).)
  • I meant to write about this earlier, but Keith Law recently chatted about all things prospects, and offered a few interesting bits: (1) Law doesn’t find Gerardo Concepcion all that impressive, (2) Law is still optimistic about Trey McNutt, (3) Ronald Torreyes doesn’t have a big league player’s physique, (4) Law doesn’t want to think much of Dan Vogelbach as a prospect until he can get to AA, still hit, and still be fit enough to play, and (5) Law thinks Junior Lake won’t be a legitimate prospect until “someone teaches him how to play baseball.”
  • Carrie Muskat previews the Cubs’ Spring Training.
  • A sweet, but sad, story about a peanut vendor outside Wrigley Field who recently passed away.
  • I wrote my first MLBullets for BleedCubbieBlue this morning, with a look at the Pirates’ apparent desire for AJ Burnett, Jose Canseco’s come-back effort, and the Cardinals’ prospects for 2012, among other things.
  • deej

    I’m still confused by this whole “theo compensation” thing…..

    1 – Didn’t Theo receive a promotion with the Cubs? An obvious one? Doesn’t that essentially negate the argument for compensation?

    2 – It’s only 1 year of Theo. Not the life of Theo. His contract was up after this year. Shouldn’t that minimize the comp to Boston??

    • Pat

      1. Not really. He is still in charge of baseball operations. It’s essentially the same job he had in Boston, with a better title.

      2. In America we operate on what s called a free market system. In that system, the seller sets the price of goods offered, and it is up to the buyer to decide if they want to meet that price or not.

      • EQ76

        Let’s just give them Marlon Byrd… he too has 1 year left and we’ve been looking to trade him anyways?

        • JB88

          That is WAY too much.

          • ferrets_bueller

            its too much, yes, but it also doesn’t really hurt us at all. I’d rather give Byrd than any of our top 15 prospects. The only way it hurts us is that it removes the possibility of dealing byrd for a low level prospect or two later on.

            • JB88

              That’s it, though. The Cubs would lose the opportunity to trade Byrd for additional pieces. So in addition to losing his MLB service during the season, you lose the opportunity to trade him for additional pieces. Byrd is a known quantity, probably about a 2 WAR player. Giving a 2 WAR player for one year of Epstein is way too much. There is no precedent and it would be a horrible precedent to set.

      • Kyle

        “1. Not really. He is still in charge of baseball operations. It’s essentially the same job he had in Boston, with a better title.”

        And a direct report to the owner, which is not trivial because he had clashes with a superior who was not the owner in his last job.

        “2. In America we operate on what s called a free market system. In that system, the seller sets the price of goods offered, and it is up to the buyer to decide if they want to meet that price or not.”

        Major League Baseball is most definitely not a free market. It’s a legal cartel with internal rules.

        • Pat

          So Kyle, how is this any different than the Cubs being willing to trade Garza assuming the right price? MLB is most definitely a free market system in regards to trades or free agency. You pay the price or don’t.

          • Kyle

            Well, the most important difference is that executive contracts are not covered under the CBA, while player contracts are. That is a huge difference that makes the comparison moot, so I won’t bother listing all the other differences.

            The baseball market is most certainly not “free.” The market for players is rigidly defined by the CBA. The market for executives is defined by Bud Selig’s rules.

            • Pat

              So if executive contracts aren’t covered under the CBA, then they default to the standard labor laws of the country. In this case, that’s a free market system. It shouldn’t be that difficult to understand.

              • Luke

                Not quite. If someone outside of baseball is negotiating to join MLB or one of its teams, that negotiation would take place under free market constraints, just as if that person were negotiating with Starbucks or GE or Ford…. mostly. The Commissioner could still exert influence over one of the parties involved, but probably not both.

                But if someone who is inside MLB is negotiating with another MLB entity, that negotiation takes place under the constraints set in place by the Commissioners Office. Free market economics and US Labor Law don’t necessarily have anything to do with it, and that is largely protected by various legal shields granted MLB by Congress. For example, take a look at the Dodger’s mess. The owner of the Dodgers reached a contract with a third party (Fox) concerning a portion of his property (the Dodgers), and Selig stepped in and vetoed it. That’s just one example. Once you enter the world of baseball, the free market rules only apply where the Commissioner says they apply.

              • Kyle

                “So if executive contracts aren’t covered under the CBA, then they default to the standard labor laws of the country. In this case, that’s a free market system. It shouldn’t be that difficult to understand.”

                For someone entirely, completely wrong about this entire process and getting rather thoroughly schooled, you sure are coming off condescending.

                No, executive contracts are not covered under the standard labor laws either.

                In order to buy a baseball franchise, you have to submit to the full and final authority of the commissioner’s office. The commissioner has all the rights and makes all the rules. Selig could go to Ricketts tomorrow and say “your franchise is revoked” and Ricketts would be SOL and out of all the money he spent on it. (He wouldn’t, of course, because that would tank franchise values, but that’s another story).

                Baseball’s anti-trust exemption makes it immune to pretty much any labor law you want to cite.

                • Pat

                  I apologize if I come off as condescending, but when people are incapable of understanding basic concepts sometimes it helps to speak more slowy.

                  Unless you can show specific MLB executive labor laws, the the default is the labor laws of the country. Can you show me specific MLB executive labor laws?

                  • ferrets_bueller

                    The default is whatever Selig says- the labor laws dont apply to MLB, as its been established that MLB is exempt.

                    • Pat

                      In what way are MLB executives not operating in a free market system? Are they not allowed to sign with the team of their choice for a dollar amount they find acceptable? They are contract workers. Same as any other contract worker in the US.

                      How about providing just one example that they operate under different rules than any other contract worker.

                  • Kyle

                    Why don’t you go ahead and do the work for yourself:

                    Cite one case where MLB executive contract status was decided by labor law.

                    Go ahead.

                    • Pat

                      Andy MacPhail was let out of his contract with Minnesota and allowed to join the Cubs IN EXCHANGE FOR COMPENSATION. This being an example of what an exchange looks like in a free market system.

                      Now how about just one example where MLB acted differently and said that compensation was not allowed in a similar situation.

                      To Brett’s comment below. Yes everyone knows that MLB operates under an antitrust exemption as a de facto monopoly. THere’s nothing I can see in the laws that changes the way peoplpe barter goods and services. A year ago, the Marlins wanted Ozzie Guillen. The Sox wanted Mike Stanton in return and the M’s said no. As well they should have. That doesn’t change the fact that the team in possession of a contract is allowed to ask whatever they want in return and it is up to the buyer to agree or not. I cannot find one single instance where the comissoner’s office has stepped in and deemed a request too high.

                      To Ferrets (sorry no reply option below), I think you are misreading the idea o free market. Binding contracts are certainly a part of a free market system.

                    • Brett

                      MLB is explicitly, by rule of the Supreme Court, not a completely free market. Its antitrust exemption ensures that.

                    • ferrets_bueller

                      Actually, in a free market, there would be no compensation for McFailure. Employees are free to leave their employers whenever they choose for new jobs. That example is actually a demonstration of the opposite of what you’re hopelessly arguing.

            • MontelleW_IA

              Let’s also not forget – the Ded-Sox were the ones that could have prevented this by just saying ‘NO’ to the interview in the first place. It appears to me that they set themselves up for this with that one simple lack of a NO on their part. If Theo wasn’t valuable enough for them to say NO, then why with only 1 year left on his contract are they acting as if they lost the contents of Fort Knox?

              • Pat

                Or they could do what they did, which was say you have the opportunity to discuss hiring him, but if you want us to let him out of his current contract we are going to require significant compensation. If the compensation doesn’t meet our asking price, no deal.

    • Brett

      You are not confused.

      • JK

        And there is precedent here. You allow an interview and the hiring club gives a promotion–no compensation. The only other clear precedent is when the Cubs hired MacPhail from the Twins. Cubs hired MacPhail and gave him a promotion to President/CEO from General Manager and provided the Twins with compensation of the 30th rated prospect from their system at the time. Interesting analysis here….. I find it laughable that the Red Sox asked for Garza.

        • Norm

          Trinidad was the #10 prospect for the Cubs…

          • Brett

            Apparently he ranged from number 10 on one list, to as high as 30 on others.

        • Brian Myers

          It can be argued, that in terms of value, Theo brings more to the table than a 30th ranked prospect. In that regard I can see where the Red Sox are coming from. I wouldn’t expect a true top of the line prospect to go, but is someone in the teens (which means a name we’ve all heard of, but might be a year or two away) likely about right? I would think so. There’s not much doubt that Theo’s value would be worth it. That could be a Chris Carpenter, Dave Sappelt, Marco Hernandez, Dae-Eun Rhee or perhaps even a Welington Castillo that would have to be traded or have Soto moved to make a big league club. All possible major league talent that likely will never become a franchise corner piece.

          • Norm

            They shouldn’t use # of prospect ranking anyway.
            If SD had to give up their #10 for an exec it would be a good prospect. But if that exec went to the White Sox, that #10 would be a significantly worse player.

    • Norm

      I guess I’m confused on the confusion.
      He was under contract. That pretty much seals the deal for why there is compensation. No matter if Theo was hired to be Pres or janitor, if the Cubs want him while under contract, they have to give Boston something.
      And I would think that if the Cubs hired Theo as janitor, compensation would be light, but being hired in such an important role, I would think compensation would be high.

      • Kyle

        The “problem” is that Selig stepped in and short-circuited the process. There was always the possibility of no compensation because either the Cubs walked away, the Red Sox decided not to stand in the way of a promotion, or the Red Sox decided they simply didn’t want a GM who intended to go to another team working in their operation.

        Once Selig decided that the process was becoming embarrassing and forced the move of Epstein, the compensation negotiation became impassable.

        • Norm

          But the Cubs and Red Sox had PLENTY of time to come up with their own compensation, and couldn’t do it. So *both parties agreed* to let Selig take care of it.

          • Brett

            Kyle is referring to the original move of Epstein to the Cubs. Initially, his move was held up by the compensation negotiations (remember during the World Series and all that). Selig decided it had gotten ridiculous, and ordered that the Red Sox let Epstein join the Cubs now, and that the compensation be decided after. This was back in November.

            • Norm

              Hmmm….ok…I’m not remembering that part.
              I’m remembering that Bud gave the Cubs/RedSox a deadline and they didn’t hit that deadline because they couldn’t agree.

              • Brett

                Yup, that came after the initial negotiation, which came before Epstein actually joined the Cubs. It was a mess.

              • Kyle

                That was after.

                First, the Cubs got permission.
                Then, the Cubs made a deal with Epstein.

                The Cubs and Red Sox began negotiation for compensation. Word leaked out that the two sides were very, very far apart.

                Eventually, Selig stepped in and said “Epstein goes to the Cubs immediately, you guys can continue to negotiate on compensation.”

                So they kept negotiating and still got nowhere. Selig started saying “If you don’t get it done soon, I’ll decide it for you.” After doing that dance for a long time, he finally said “okay, I’m doing it for you.” That’s where we are now.

                • Alex

                  What should have happened:
                  First, BOTH the Red Sox and Cubs should have agreed to compensation before permission to meet with Theo.
                  Then, the Cubs get their permission.
                  Finally, the Cubs make a deal with Epstein.

                  • Pat


                    Both sides were incredibly stupid in not working out the compensation ahead of time.

  • LouCub

    Nick Cafardo is a piece of crap ass kisser to Larry Lucchino..To even suggest anyone the Cubs have aquired since Theo took over is ludicrous!!! I can’t wait till this craps over with and we never have to hear about anything Boston for awhile…I used to respect the BoSox and their nation, now I wanna puke at the mere mention of any of them..Go Yankees!!!

  • Spencer

    I’m disappointed you linked to Cafardo’s article. Lots of readers are going to be vomiting over breakfast this morning.

    • Brett

      Ha. Sorry.

  • Matt

    Carfado is a clown.

  • Mike

    As I’ve said before, not to get too Bill Clinton on you, but it depends entirely on what you think the definition of “significant” is.

    Pro-Red Sox guys like Cafardo obviously think that significant means a significant major league talent at best, or a significant prospect at worst. However, IMO, a top 30 prospect would be very significant compensation for an executive promotion with one year remaining on his contract.

  • rcleven

    Cafardo got a little lazy or doesn’t know the rules of trading a just drafted player. He will be right though because he seamed to name every one on the team.

  • cls

    Looks like someone found the “meme generator” website. :)

    • Brett

      Years ago, yes.

  • DannyBallgame

    Boston can’t expect too much in return. Especially considering that if they didn’t want Theo to leave, all that they had to do was tell him that he couldn’t meet with the Cubs. To allow something to happen by choice and then cry foul is silly. DeWitt and about $3.50 should do

  • Alex

    Cafardo is banging his drum and making a case for the Red Sox side. Are any of the Cubs beat writers making a case for the Cubs side? If there are, I haven’t seen any.

    Someone please wake Paul Sullivan and Wittenmeyer up and let them know they can start working again this weekend.

    • Brett

      The Chicago newspaper media is non-homer. Even if they were writing about this, they wouldn’t be doing what Cafardo is doing (maybe a column or two). The best we’ve got is the fan-driven media.

      • Alex

        I see what you’re saying about Chicago Media being non-homers, but there is another thing about making a case for our side. I’m not saying to be as bad as Cafardo, but it would be nice to see the guys from our side at least making our case once in a while.

        It’s bad enough that Paul Sullivan doesn’t write one word about compensation, but to have the Tribune post some of Cafardo’s garbage is even worse.

  • die hard

    No compensation is due Bosox because:
    1. They were going to fire Theo
    2. Cubs picked up his last yr of contract, saving Bosox millions
    3. Cubs picked up his bonus, saving more millions

    As to San Diego, above is true is one or more respects…

    I believe that this is why taking so long, because Selig cannot get around these contract law principles which precludes an award of damages where other party mitigated damages and was not harmed.

  • Kevin

    Send Theo back to Boston……..end of story!

    • BetterNews

      Kevin-The Cubs haven’t played a game under Theo and you’re wanting to ship him back to Boston!

  • Kevin

    Talk about political BS, I’m losing respect for the game…..we have a commissioner who is a pussy!

    • Bric

      Absolutely true. And that’s the reason he got a nice contract extension instead of his walking papers. The owners love Bud. They make money off him, he takes a bunch of crap instead of them, and he’s so slow in his decision making process that any controversies that come up are replaced by something else in the news by the time he reacts. Examples: Steroids (Braun, McGuire, ARod, etc.), inter-team scalp hunting (Theo), crazy legal issues (Hamilton, Carmona, Clemons, etc).

      Brett often portays him as the Emperor from Star Wars but he’s much closer to that other guy (Chancellor something) who was a do nothing politician.

  • BD

    This offseason I have found myself lowering my regard for what Keith Law says. I think he is knowledgeable and usually pretty accurate, but something has just not sat well with me this winter. It’s like he’s trying to mess with me on purpose.

    Speaking of guys I don’t regard, did anybody else see that Phil Rogers “basically” thinks that Bryce Harper isn’t as great as we’ve heard because he isn’t the #1 prospect on anybodys list? (I’m paraphrasing) I think every team in baseball would take a 19-year-old who’s good enough to be the #2 prospect.

  • Kyle

    “How about providing just one example that they operate under different rules than any other contract worker.”

    One example?

    How about Bud Selig stepping in and assigning Theo Epstein to the Chicago Cubs despite the fact that was under contract with the Red Sox.

    There’s your one example. Or do I need to talk slower?

    • Pat

      Leaving in place the fact that compensation was due. What he did was get both teams agree that compensation would be decided later, by a mediator if necessary. See that part there where both teams agreed?

  • Kyle

    “Andy MacPhail was let out of his contract with Minnesota and allowed to join the Cubs IN EXCHANGE FOR COMPENSATION. This being an example of what an exchange looks like in a free market system.

    Now how about just one example where MLB acted differently and said that compensation was not allowed in a similar situation.”

    The fact that compensation was exchanged does not prove that the MLB market is a free-market system. That sort of compensation can also occur within limited markets, such as legal cartels.

    • Pat

      If it looks like a duck…..

      Enough of this. You’re right Kyle, that Cubs should get whatever they want and not have to pay for it. People don’t need to be compensated for value and the seller doesn’t set the price in a transaction. Have a good day in Bizarro World.

  • JulioZuleta

    From Cafardo, “Other top prospects include outfielders Brett Jackson and Reggie Golden, shortstop Javier Baez, righties Trey McNutt, Zach Cates, and Dillon Maples, and catcher Wellington Castro.”

    I’m all for the Cubs giving up Wellington Castro, once they find a guy who goes by that name.

  • Richard Nose

    Is KLaw a humongous dousche untensil or am I mistaken? Not just becuase of his views on Cubs, he seems genuinely prickish towards a lot of players and his own followers.

    • DocWimsey

      KLaw does not suffer fools gladly, and he finds a lot of questions pretty foolish. And, if you look at the questions, he’d be a fool to think otherwise!

  • die hard

    Selig will have to walk a fine line this week as Braun and compensation decisions will have more impact on Cubs than any other team…