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.
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    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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