Monday, October 24, 2011

It’s a Land of Confusion

I have to admit. I don’t get this whole Theo situation. This is definitely one of those times I need to read a “behind the scenes” book in a year or two.

The basics as I understand them are thus. The Cubs want Theo to be their new team president. Theo wants to be their new team president. Unfortunately, Theo has a contract to be the Red Sox general manager for another year. So, he needs to get out of that contract. The Red Sox aren’t ready to simply tear up the contract. They, naturally, need some sort of compensation in order to do that. I get it. It’s the same thing that happened when the Sox tried to get ARod. The Sox wanted him to tear up his old contract. The players union wouldn’t let him do that without being compensated. Which is why when the Yankees finally traded for him, they needed to put a link on their website to his website. Apparently, the Sox are looking for more than web hits. That’s where it gets a little weird to me.

The Sox apparently made a couple requests of the Cubs. They asked for Sterlin Castro, the Cubs franchise shortstop of the future. The Cubs declined. The Sox asked for Matt Garza. The Cubs declined. The Sox asked to include John Lackey in the deal. The Cubs stopped laughing, and declined. At this point, I understood negotiations. The Sox were aiming high, the Cubs low. It came down to who had the most leverage, and who had the most to lose. The way I saw it, the Cubs needed to make a deal because they were already promoting Theo as the savior of the franchise. If they then let him go, what does that say to the fans? The Sox needed to make a deal because if they didn’t, they would have a GM under a one-year contract who didn’t want to be there. But, then Theo resigned from the Red Sox. So, didn’t that remove all the Cubs leverage? Now, no matter what, the Sox don’t have to deal with Theo coming back all angry. Now, what’s to stop the Red Sox from saying, “We want Garza AND Castro. Otherwise, Theo can sit around for a year watching the MLB network.” The only thing the Sox would lose is whatever low-level prospect the Cubs were offering. Why don’t the Sox now take the hard line?

It’s also a little odd that apparently the Cubs are having Theo negotiate for himself. Technically, he must be acting as an outside party, negotiating on their behalf, or something. But, how do you negotiate for yourself? Does Theo offer the Red Sox lousy prospects? If he does that, isn’t he saying that he’s not a very valuable member of the Red Sox front office? Does Lucchino ask for Castro because Theo was such an integral member of the club only to have Theo counter with an A-baller, saying he didn’t do much for the Sox anyway? Is this like reverse arbitration? The Red Sox arguing that he was valuable, while Theo argues that he’s worthless? What does that tell the Cubs? Their new club president is admitting he’s not very valuable to a team? Huh?

And, now, Bud Selig says he’ll step in if a deal can’t be reached in a week. Why? He doesn’t usually step in on trades. If the Red Sox want Felix Hernandez, and the Mariners won’t take garbage in exchange for him, will Selig step in to get the job done? Is his decision binding? Can the Sox (or Cubs) look at the compensation Selig offers, and laugh? Or is Selig going to say it’s in the best interests of baseball for an executive from one team to go to another team for minimal compensation?

It’s interesting because I don’t see Lucchino as a guy to give up on a negotiation. Nor do I see him settling for less to keep good working relations or honor a gentleman’s agreement. Remember, this is the team that claimed Kevin Millar of waivers when it was “general practice” to let players like that clear waivers to go to Japan. Theo was part of that too. So, he should have a similar opinion. Why would the Sox back down? They seem to have all the cards in their hands.

Very entertaining.


  1. Honestly, I consider myself a smart baseball fan and I have no idea what's going on here. Let me know when you find a good "behind-the-scenes" book a few years from now.

  2. ridiculous. and now theo is admitting he's been planning to leave us all year. hmmmmmm.... wonder why the front office lost focus. hmmmmmm.

  3. What's wrong with the situation is that it's a necessary evil. Yes, Theo was planning on leaving all year and was waiting for the Cubs to call. Yes, the Cubs have to compensate the Red Sox for the services of an executive still under contract... just like they would for any player. In fact, this whole thing is akin to the Sox trading Theo for a player to be named later, however, MLB will limit just how long 'later' is.

    Ozzie was still under contract to the White Sox when the Miami Marlins called. The story broke prematurely, but was dead on when it said 'Marlins trading for Ozzie'. The Pale Hose agreed, released Ozzie as manager and received a low level prospect while the Fish debuted their new manager on the final night of the season as a sign of things to come in their new stadium.

    So, now Theo agrees to sign with Chicago as President of operations (bringing an educated posse of baseball men with him and not directly from Boston), so as planned, he resigns from the Sox and signs with the Cubs. But, baseball takes the compensation idea seriously... so, boom! Theo says he's worth 2 apples while the Sox naturally (and rightfully so) say he's worth seven apples and an orange. But when the Cubs so 'whoa..!', the Sox have stats on their side. Yep they asked for Matt Garza, who was great in Tampa but had a mediocre year in Chicago (since the Cubs, you know, sucked) which gives the Sox the right to say "Well, if you say Theo is mediocre, give us your mediocre pitcher". It's funny in a way to see how this will all shake out among guys who all built the modern Red Sox. Selig has to monitor or step in to be sure procedure is followed and no precedent is set otherwise teams will be trading managers and executives for a bag of bats at the drop of a hat or downturn of a season.

    It all dates back to when Charley Finley was selling off the crown jewels of the three-peat Oakland A's teams for peanuts and the commissioner stepped in and called the trade's off. Remember Rollie Fingers in his Red Sox jersey? That's why he only wore it for about two hours.

    Chances are the Sox won't get a MLB player as compensation unless Selig decides the Cubs prospects are that woeful as not enough to compensate for a two time world champion whose teams won 90 games six times (including 2011, by the way).


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