After months of waiting, the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox have finally reached an agreement on the compensation for Theo Epstein. The former Red Sox General Manager and new Cubs President of Baseball operations has been traded for none other than Chris Carpenter. No, not the one most of the baseball world has heard of that plays for the St. Louis Cardinals, the 26 year old flame throwing relief pitcher that was recently ranked as the number 11 prospect in the Cubs organization.
There are some fans who are upset about the player the Cubs and Red Sox agreed upon as compensation for a number of reasons. For that matter, some fans still cannot figure out why the Cubs had to give up anything for Epstein who resigned his post before accepting the Cubs Presidents job. That reason is simple, even though he resigned, the Red Sox still had him under contract for a year and could have blocked him from going anywhere for a year. They would have had to pay him for doing absolutely nothing for a year while paying Ben Cherington to be the new General Manager. If you are under contract, the whole thing must be taken care of or bough out. If you are fired, the business must pay out the remainder of the contract, so why would things not work both ways? Quitting does not dissolve the contract, so compensation must be made to whoever holds the contract of the party who wants out of the deal.
Back to the actual compensation case that got settled today. Some fans see Carpenter throwing near 100 miles per hour and see nothing but stars, believing that he can be a better closer for the Cubs than Carlos Marmol. However, they over look his injury history which unfortunately for the kid goes all the way back to his senior year in High School, which might be why the Cubs decided to use him as a relief pitcher. Early word out of Boston is that the Red Sox want to stretch him out and convert him into a starting pitcher. All the best of luck to them with that task, as I am not sure things will end well for either side in that test case. If his injury history continues, Boston could wind up with absolutely nothing for one of the best General Managers in the game.
If someone would have told you a year ago that you could get Epstein for a relief pitcher most fans would have been screaming for Tom Ricketts to pull the trigger and make the deal. Now however, after only 10 games of major league experience, some fans tend to think that the price was a bit too high. While this is a very small sample size, there isn’t much to get excited about over his performance at the big league level. Sure, his ERA was below three, but that does not show how many inherited runners he allowed to score in his 9.2 innings of work. Of the 11 runners who were on base when he came into a game, nine of them scored. Not exactly good in terms of a relief pitcher. Add in that his strike out to base on balls ratio is 8:7 (not counting intentional walks) and his WHIP is over 1.9, and you do not have the makings of a very good relief pitcher, or good pitcher for that matter. Being 26 years old, time is running out on his figuring things out at the major league level. The Red Sox will have to work quickly if they want a good return on their investment.
I know what you are going to say, he is young and can get better. But, you could also say the opposite. He could get worse, you never know what the future holds for prospects with very limited major league experience. He is still a prospect in the world of baseball, and for all of you who hate trading proven talent for prospects, this is the exact opposite. The Cubs basically traded away a prospect for a man who has proven to find players in the draft better than the one they are giving up. That is a win in my books, Epstein can draft players just like him. Again, a very easy trade to make.
However, what might be upsetting fans about Carpenter being the player involved might not be because they feel he is going to be a great player. What might be upsetting some fans is the compensation case is not following protocol for past cases. When the Cubs acquired Andy McPhail from the Minnesota Twins, they only needed to give up a player from their A Ball affiliate. Some might be convinced that is all the Cubs should have needed to give up in this case as well. However, that was nearly 20 years ago, and times change. This is a simple case of inflation at work, name me anything that costs the same now as they did 20 years ago. I will be waiting for a response in my inbox.
Another reason some fans are slightly disappointed, they would rather have given up someone like Josh Vitters or even Jeff Samardzija, players they deem to be of a lesser value than Carpenter. I can understand both cases to be honest. Vitters has yet to show anything in his five years in the Cubs system and fans are growing tired of waiting for him to make his Wrigley debut. However, he is still very young, being 22 he still has plenty of time to grow and figuring things out. He is far too young to give up on, but I can see why people would rather give up him over Carpenter. At least Carpenter has made the big leagues.
With Samardzija, he has been a headache for years before finally looking like the pitcher we have been waiting for. You never know what to expect out of him, so I am sure many fans would have welcomed his departure, while I am sure many would have offered to drive him to the airport. Sending him in compensation would also save the Cubs some money.
I wish Carpenter and the Red Sox luck, I honestly do. I have nothing against him and I can see why the Red Sox like Carpenter, and why they would love to turn him into a starter. A pitcher who is able to throw near 100 miles an hour is a definite threat to anyone standing in the batters box. But there is a difference between throwing in the mid to upper 90s for an inning and doing so for at least five where your match ups are not set up to your advantage.
Now that the Epstein compensation has been completed, the Cubs can now turn their attention to the San Diego Padres and their compensation talks for Jed Hoyer. Don’t worry, from all reports we have heard, this will not take nearly as long as the Epstein talks and will not be for any significant player. The reports have also stated that things should be taken care of quickly. Then, all the compensation agreements are complete and the Cubs can finally move on.
Except for the minor detail that there is still a little left to the story between the Red Sox and Cubs. As a part of the compensation deal the Cubs have agreed to send a player to be named later to the Red Sox as a part of the deal. The good news is that the Red Sox will also send one back to the Cubs. This will be finished by April 15 at the very latest, and will not involve any significant players.
Worry not Cub fans, the long nightmare is finally over, and Theo is no longer on layaway.