Selig must end compensation controversy

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
12:11
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
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The compensation discussions between the Red Sox and Cubs -- stemming from Theo Epstein taking the president of baseball operations position in Chicago while he was still under contract in Boston – have
been a farce from the outset.

[+] EnlargeChris Carpenter
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyChris Carpenter's arm injury may have the Red Sox re-thinking the Theo Epstein compensation.

First and foremost, Larry Lucchino, Boston’s president and CEO, could not wait to fire manager Terry Francona and see Epstein move on after the epic melt down that cost Boston a playoff berth on the final day of the 2011 season. Francona quit, after a no-confidence message was delivered to him by ownership. Epstein, who had locked horns with Lucchino for years, still had one year remaining on his contract as the Red Sox’s GM.

As much as Epstein leaving Boston for Chicago was a home run for the North Siders, the Cubs made one vital error; they did not understand Boston wanted a lot more for their former executive than a prospect and a few dollars.

We now have advanced five months down the road with the two teams still fighting each other on the issue. The latest problem centers on an injury to pitching prospect Chris Carpenter. The centerpiece of the compensation package sent to Boston, Carpenter had surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow on Thursday.

When asked if he believed the Cubs knew of Carpenter’s arm issues, Luccino told reporters, "I'm not going to comment on it. We assume everyone acted in good faith."

That’s not to say Luccino is finally putting the issue to rest. He also told reporters in Red Sox camp that GM Ben Cherington is “exploring” Boston’s options and called the situation “on-going.”

Nothing about Carpenter should have been a mystery to the Red Sox.

The organization scouted all of his outings in the Arizona Fall League. The Red Sox looked at all the medicals on the pitcher going back to November. They also looked at his talent, having seen him average 100 mph when he did pitch.

It is true that Carpenter’s history of arm issues predates his move to Boston. He had a forearm strain that landed him on the DL last summer. It is also true that elbow issues are almost always connected to forearm strains. That being the case, it is even more obvious that the Red Sox knew what they were getting.

It is time, once and for all, for Bud Selig to put an end to this nonsense. Selig should have the Cubs write a small check and be done with it forever. Compensation of a player for a front-office person never has made sense.


Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Starlin Castro
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RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
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SOJ. Arrieta 167