It took some time for the Red Sox and Cubs to finally agree on the value of the compensation the Red Sox should be entitled to for their loss of Theo Epstein to Chicago. The Cubs (under Epstein) argued that Epstein wasn't that valuable even though they were the ones who badly wanted him, and the Red Sox (without Epstein) argued that he was the smartest bestest thing since the invention of inventing things and they'd probably die or something without him. This, admittedly, was odd. The Cubs argued that they didn't need the guy they really wanted while the Red Sox argued they badly needed the guy they let go. Essentially the argument boiled down to both teams arguing that they were the dumber one.
When it finally got down to making proposals, the sides could politely be characterized as far apart. The Red Sox requested the rights to every player the Cubs draft over the next ten years while the Cubs countered by offering 25% off a six month subscription to Oprah's O Magazine, though it's entirely possible they were just planning to ship their used copies to Boston and pocket the money.
Things looked bleak. How could the two sides bridge the great divide that lay between their proposals? Maybe with a little help from Uncle Bud or maybe not, but somehow the two sides managed. Finally, after months of discussion, haggling, avoiding haggling, discussing haggling, and finally discussing avoiding avoiding, the teams had come together.
The result was Chris Carpenter went from Chicago to Boston. Yay. Now it was time to rejoice, have a clamato juice and move on... except, no. Because included with Carpenter was the promise of another player, a player to be named later. This meant that the two teams had agreed the Red Sox should receive another player in addition to Carpenter, but hadn't yet agreed on who that player should be. The saga continued! It's like the movie The Neverending Story where in the middle the boy just keeps repeating, "Atreyu! Atreyu!" over and over and over and over continuing until several days later when, just as I realized the tape was damaged, my VCR broke.
So, more haggling, arguing, avoiding, obfuscating, stealthy nose-picking, and of course more avoiding happened. Then, it was lunch time. Then it was announced that the Red Sox and Cubs had again reached an agreement. They had agreed that the Player To Be Named Later had been named now and thus would now be The Player To Be Named Now and he would then be given to the Red Sox making him the Player To Be Named Now Who Was Given To The Red Sox and oh, and his name is Aaron Kurcz.
With their bounty of Carpenter and Kurcz the Red Sox could wistfully stroll down the road towards a certain and happy future, content in the knowledge that they had remade their franchise while never looking at the... wait a minute. It seems the Cubs were promised a player to be named later in this deal too. That's odd because weren't they the team who stole the other team's GM? But it makes sense if you think about it because Theo Epstein for Aaron Kurcz and Chris Carpenter (no, different one) is totally unfair.
So more raggling, more haggling, more discussions about raggling and haggling, more interviews about raggling and haggling, and more watching reruns of Small Wonder on the couch while buried up to your neck in pistachio shells to relieve the stress. Finally, after what seemed like decades but was really about a week or so, the Cubs and Red Sox emerged into the light. They had agreed again, and this time it was final. The Red Sox would send
top prospect Xander Bogaerts the brother of top prospect Xander Bogaerts, Jair Bogaerts, to Chicago.
Finally all was right with the world. Theo was in Chicago, and the Red Sox had their GM of the present and future guiding them back to glory. Everything was as it should be. Heck the Cubs and Red Sox could even have dinner together without sniping about who ate more bread out of the basket or who was drinking the wine too quickly. Heck, they probably could have even agreed on the restaurant if they hadn't been using a groupon. They could finally peacefully coexist.
Until a few days ago.
What happened a few days ago? It was revealed that Chris Carpenter needed elbow surgery. The man threw 4.2 pitches for the Red Sox organization (3.1 were balls) and now his elbow needs work. And not just any work. Elbow surgery is a particularly nasty kind of work, like cleaning out the toilets at South Station after the Bruins won the Cup. It may need to be done but that doesn't mean anyone wants to do it.
Carpenter's surgery isn't reconstructive, but any surgery on the elbow of a professional pitcher has to cast some doubts. So are the Red Sox angry? Are they upset? Are they looking for retribution? Are they thinking of sending Carpenter back as you would a Luke-warm bowl of pasta at Applebees?
No, of course not. There was no way for the Cubs to know about Carpenter's elbow problems. In fact, Carpenter passed physicals administered by both the Cubs and Red Sox so anything that slipped by wouldn't be the fault of either team. The Red Sox had the best possible information and the Cubs had the best possible intention and sometimes things still don't work out for the best. But, I think both teams realize, that's just tough luck.
By all of which I mean yes, yes, absolutely yes.
So what are the possible outcomes of this? The way I see it there are three:
1. Nothing. Carpenter remains in the Red Sox organization, and if things break right, eventually achieves the unique note of becoming the first pitcher to accidentally bean a GM in the stands with a live pitch. Oops!
2. The Cubs accept Carpenter back. They offer in return a few back issues of O Magazine with the Sodoku puzzles already completed, citing last May's issue as particularly worthwhile as it's the one with that killer recipe for low-fat cake. The Red Sox counter by asking for another reliever with arm problems. Uncle Bud steps in and orders the Red Sox to move to San Jose.
3. The Cubs accept Carpenter back but at the airport before he's able to get on the plane he's attacked and four of his toes are eaten by an escaped hamster. The Cubs still agree to accept Carpenter back, but the loss of four of his toes is going to require some compensation...