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Dealing with the Cubs: Thoughts on Matt Garza, Theo Epstein, & Compensation

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Spring Training is only getting closer and the Red Sox still find themselves with only 3/5 of a legitimate, albeit injury prone rotation. Nevertheless, Boston seems content riding the course, with low risk (and probably low reward) moves. Does Aaron Cook get you excited? It shouldn’t. Futhermore, the Sox seem unwilling to pony up for a more capable starter such as Roy Oswalt or Hiroki Kuroda. And rumor has it that not terrible starting pitchers don’t exactly come cheap.

With such a dismal rotation, it would be fair to assume that the Red Sox would be desperate for a decent starting pitcher, let alone an above average one. So when a pitcher such as Chicago Cubs’ starter, Matt Garza, is potentially available via trade, the Red Sox would seem like a logical trading partner. Unfortunately there is a catch–If he is going to trade Garza to the Red Sox, Theo Epstein is going to want compensation.

Overrated?

Since the offseason began, Garza has been listed as one of the top available arms. A top arm with a price, that is. And why not? He’s battle tested in the competitive American League East and is still under team control. Additionally, Garza was one of Tampa’s top young pitchers just a few seasons ago. So obviously he is worth a significant haul of prospects. Right?

No. No. No. It doesn’t take a Bill James to figure that out. Wins are not the most reliable statistic, but Garza has never topped 15. ERA isn’t doing Garza any favors either. His career ERA is 3.82, which is closer to 4 than it is to 3. Call me crazy, but I don’t think you trade the farm for a pitcher with an ERA of 4.

Would Garza be a nice addition to Boston’s rotation? Absolutely. But not if it means giving up Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnaway, and company. Everyone talks about Boston’s weak farm system. Unless the Red Sox can bring in an indisputably elite pitcher, why do further damage to an allegedly unimpressive group of prospects? All to help out Theo Epstein, who still has not provided compensation for breaching a contract.

The Issue of Compensation

The Red Sox collapse was to due to a faulty roster. So what did the General Manger, the man in charge of the roster do? Bolt for Chicago and let the blame fall on Terry Francona. The only problem was that Epstein was still under contract for one more year. This was not a new phenomenom for Major League Baseball. In fact, shortly before Theo left Boston, Ozzie Guillen left Chicago for the Miami Marlins. Guillen was under contract too, so the Marlins sent several prospects to the White Sox in return for Guillen’s services. Pretty simple.

Fans and media alike fantasized about compensation scenarios. Top prospects. Starlin Castro. Even Matt Garza. A General Manager is more valuable than a manager, so surely the Red Sox would reel in a nice haul. But Theo doesn’t roll that way so he breached a contract without suffering any consequences.

Although I’ve never been a fan of Theo Epstein, I am particularly disappointed by his recent actions. And these antics only reinforce my opinions of the former Sox’ GM. There is no doubt he thinks highly of himself. But the dude breached a contract, which I’m pretty sure is somehow morally wrong. Does he think he is so sabermetric-savvy that he can get away with that? Throw in the fact that he jumped ship after the roster he assembled underwent the most embarrassing collapse in history. Does anyone else think he was somewhat obligated to clean that mess up?

The Red Sox organization shares some of the blame for this fiasco as well. Common sense would dictate that Theo should not have been allowed to leave until compensation was provided. With Theo now comfy in Chicago, the Sox have no leverage whatsoever. That’s weak.

What to Expect

Garza is probably out of the cards. He simply doesn’t have the stuff to back up his hefty price tag. In terms of compensation, expect nothing more than a no-name prospect. The Cubs already have their guy, so they have no reason to give up anything. Considering how Theo has treated Boston, I would suggest the Red Sox refuse to deal with the man. But life goes on. Unfortunately, Sox fans have to accept this one as a loss.

About Josh Segal

Josh Segal is a professional shock artist and trash talker. He also occasionally writes opinion pieces about the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and their respective leagues at large. Segal is currently a junior at Kenyon College where he plans to double major in drama and political science. Apparently he also writes his own biographies in the third person.

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