Red Sox Look Spoiled, Childish in Epstein Deal

Quick…somebody name the player that the Cubs sent to the Minnesota Twins when they hired Andy MacPhail.  Come on…I’m waiting. I’ll give you a hint…that’s his Minor League card from 1992 off to the left.  Still waiting.  Don’t know?  Huh.  Well, I guess I can’t blame you.  Have you ever heard of pitcher Hector Trinidad?  No?  To be honest, I hadn’t either until after Theo Epstein was hired and I googled “player sent to Twins when Cubs hired Andy MacPhail.”

At the time, in 1994, Andy MacPhail was every bit the star Theo Epstein is among baseball executives.  He was also on good terms in Minnesota.  The compensation for the Twins however, would have been more valuable if it were something the Twins could have sold…say a case of beer and box of peanuts.

When Theo Epstein was hired, the Red Sox, naturally, set the compensation bar high.  I can’t say I would have done anything differently in a negotiation.  But when the Cubs said they weren’t stupid enough to send Matt Garza to Boston for Epstein, they should have come back to earth, at least a little.  Names like Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt were floated, as top level prospects.  Those, too, were shot down without much thought.

Alas, we thought a deal was struck shortly after Spring Training began.  The Red Sox got Chris Carpenter, and a player to be named for Theo and a player to be named.  He wasn’t a top level prospect, but he was a B level prospect that was expected to contribute in the Cubs’ bullpen with the 100+ MPH fastball this season.  Since, the players to be named have been named; everything is done and all is well, right?  Wrong.  Even though Carpenter went on the DL with a forearm strain last season, was given a physical by the Red Sox, and had his medical records reviewed by the Red Sox, they’re crying foul over the fact that Carpenter needed elbow surgery this week.

Photo: Aram Boghosian, Boston Globe

We’re not revealing state secrets when we say that Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein didn’t see eye to eye.  Is that prompting the move to explore their options and keep the compensation issue open?  In my opinion, maybe.  I think it probably has something more to do with the fact that the Red Sox don’t want to be second fiddle to the Yankees in anything, and if that means being as ruthless and as arrogant about their place in the baseball hierarchy, fine.  The Yankees would never allow for the public to even get the chance to think they’ve been taken for a ride, and the Red Sox are doing the same here, even though they’ve acknowledged that the Cubs probably acted in good faith.

I agree with ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine when he says Bud Selig needs to step in.  I disagree with his assertion that Selig should have the Cubs cut the Red Sox a check and call it a day.  I think Selig should tell the Red Sox that baseball players are like used cars.  When you get one, it comes “as is.”  If they did their homework, knew about his injury history, and admit they think the Cubs acted in good faith, that should be the end of the discussion.  A pitcher’s elbow is like a car’s brakes.  Eventually, it is probably going to need some work.

The Sawx should thank their lucky stars that they got a B level prospect out of the deal.  They could have gotten RHP Michael Jensen.  Don’t know who he is?  That’s alright…not many people outside of the Cubs’ Organization or Boise, ID would know who a guy who hasn’t been assigned a number on the lower Single A affiliate is.

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