What is Theo Epstein Worth?


Jordan has kept Cubbies Crib closely in tune with the Theo Epstein pursuit, from just rumors weeks ago to the breaking news of the Cubs and the current GM of the Red Sox having reached an agreement on contractual terms. In the recent days leading up to this evenings latest news, much of the talk regarding this potential transaction revolved around the compensation to Boston for Epstein as the lack of rumors had fans and the media divided as to whether or not they should buy into the hyped rumor.

Now that the rumor is on the verge of becoming reality according to numerous Major League sources, the discussion over compensation has become a hot topic, particularly on the radio waves. In particular, multiple hosts and shows on The Score strongly believe that any player under Cubs control should be made available to the Red Sox. The bottom line? Do whatever it takes to get Epstein into Jim Hendry’s old office.

The benefits of bringing Epstein into the organization cannot be argued. Jordan rattled off an impressive list of names the Red Sox have developed and promoted to the Major League ranks successfully during Epstein’s tenure in his latest post. But most importantly, as we all know, this is the GM that brought the championship starved Boston fans not one, but two World Series titles. The parallels between Boston and Chicago were very similar through 2003. Decades and decades of being void of the ultimate goal in baseball. Classic, vintage stadiums of yesteryear that were double edged swords; the coziness and tradition that helped bring fans out even during the bad times, but small in capacity in today’s business world of the bottom line in big market cities. Rabid fan bases with big market medias that would scrutinize every step and move. And to bring up bad memories for Cubs fans, both teams dealt with failures in the 2003 playoffs after being on the door step of the Worlds Series.

The rest is history. Boston went on to win the two titles under Epstein while the Cubs have not been able to get back to the NLCS since. Of course there are many variables that go into the formula that ultimately leads to a team winning the World Series. But you know Epstein has been doing something right to have done it twice within years while also maintaining the Red Sox as annual playoff contenders despite being in baseball’s toughest division with the Yankees and Rays.

What may be less known is the pros Epstein brings off of the Major League baseball playing field. The track record of quality drafting and developing of prospects. Developing a winning culture for an organization that seemingly felt the weight of a so called jinx like the Cubs do. The business acumen of maximizing Fenway Park to its fullest to generate revenue.

The Cubs system may have improved under Hendry, but the jury is still out at best on the results at the Major League level. Epstein would be able to boost that even further. The GM also would have the business savvy to try to negotiate public funds for the aging Wrigley Field that already had capacity increased with the bleacher expansion.

In a failed attempt to not over hype his importance, he just may be to the Cubs what Jesus is to Christians.

Can a price be put on that? The Cubs would surely be willing to toss Boston some dollars to make the deal happen. But what is even a few million to a big market team like Boston in the long run? That is were the player for GM trade discussions have come in. Despite having seen these types of deals happen in exchange for managers, with the most recent example being Ozzie Guillen, a transaction for a GM under contract with another team is unprecedented.

With The Score hosts and surely others deeply believing in the positive impact Epstein would bring, the argument is that they would send Starlin Castro back to the Red Sox without hesitation. One host took it a step further to say that if any Cubs fan disagreed, that fan was a part of the problematic bad mentality that is holding this team back from being better. While I agree that Epstein is the top choice if available, it would be foolish for the Cubs to pay the sticker price on the “new car” that is Epstein when everyone knows that negotiating is all part of the business.

The argument for letting Castro go is that he may not reach that super star potential the previous regime has tabbed the second year shortstop to be. In addition, the drafting and development talents of Epstein will surely sprout several Castros to just the one the Cubs currently have right now.

Is Epstein worth a Castro? Sure. But should the Cubs make that deal? No. Castro is the piece that Epstein can build the Cubs empire with if not around. Some of the criticism the young kid got this past season was his lapses in focus from time to time, along with his erratic throwing arm, and his lack of walks at the plate. But at worst we are looking at a kid that can be moved to second base, where he does not have to make plays on which he wants to show off his arm, while being a solid two hitter for the Cubs if he does not walk enough to be a lead off hitter. Part of the reason he is able to get on base so much is that he is able to hit pitches out of the zone for singles. If you are hitting pitches out of the zone for base hits, then you are obviously not taking them for balls to take a walk.

Some of the other names tossed around include Matt Garza and Andrew Cashner. If the negotiations get to the point where the only way the Cubs do not let go of Castro is to include one of these two instead, then I make the deal. But the Cubs should not even be letting the talk get to this point. After what the Cubs gave up to get Garza, and with the Cubs lacking an ace on the returning roster as it currently is, Garza is as close to untouchable as it gets for me. I have love for Cashner because the kid can be what Kerry Wood was in the set up role. I was against the Cashner for starter campaign from the day it was rumored before the start of the 2011 season, and regardless of whether Wood returns or not, Cashner would be an important part of the bullpen that Epstein will hope to have in place in a couple years to make a honest pursuit of the elusive World Series. Cashner could even replace the erratic Carlos Marmol one day.

At the end of the day, I am in agreement with Jordan that the Cubs should be able to get the Red Sox to settle for a prospect or two. Epstein is a kid that grew up in the Boston area who rooted for the Red Sox. The only way he would even consider leaving that dream job is if he is not getting what he wants in terms of money and power in the Boston organization. The Red Sox letting Epstein even talk to the Cubs shows that they are far apart on meeting his demands, and that gives the Cubs more leverage in the transaction than the people willing to let go Castro are giving Tom Ricketts for.

Who are you willing to part with to get The Savior?