Say it ain’t so, Theo!
Part of my faith in the Red Sox’s future rested with general manager Theo Epstein and the brain trust he had assembled. In contrast to the byzantine organizational structure of George Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees. Alas, this week has scrambled those expectations. Steinbrenner managed to retain Brian Cashman as his GM, and Cashman managed to ...
Part of my faith in the Red Sox's future rested with general manager Theo Epstein and the brain trust he had assembled. In contrast to the byzantine organizational structure of George Steinbrenner's New York Yankees. Alas, this week has scrambled those expectations. Steinbrenner managed to retain Brian Cashman as his GM, and Cashman managed to shift the center of gravity on decision-making away from Tampa and towards New ork. Meanwhile, Red Sox wunderkind GM Theo Epstein has declined the Red Sox's offer of a new three-year contract. The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman explains why:
Part of my faith in the Red Sox’s future rested with general manager Theo Epstein and the brain trust he had assembled. In contrast to the byzantine organizational structure of George Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees. Alas, this week has scrambled those expectations. Steinbrenner managed to retain Brian Cashman as his GM, and Cashman managed to shift the center of gravity on decision-making away from Tampa and towards New ork. Meanwhile, Red Sox wunderkind GM Theo Epstein has declined the Red Sox’s offer of a new three-year contract. The Boston Herald‘s Michael Silverman explains why:
Money and length of the contract were not issues in the past few days for Epstein, who had lobbied hard for an annual salary of more than $1 million a year. Epstein had come close to agreeing to a deal Saturday evening but had not officially conveyed acceptance of it. On Sunday, he began having serious misgivings about staying on. A leading contributing factor, according to sources close to the situation, was a column in Sunday?s Boston Globe in which too much inside information about the relationship between Epstein and his mentor, team president and CEO Larry Lucchino, was revealed — in a manner slanted too much in Lucchino?s favor. Epstein, according to these sources, had several reasons to believe Lucchino was a primary source behind the column and came to the realization that if this information were leaked hours before Epstein was going to agree to a new long-term deal, it signaled excessive bad faith between him and Lucchino.
Epstein’s innovation as a GM wasn’t to use sabremetrics to analyze baseball players — though he was part of the first wave of GM’s to do so. No, Epstein’s real gift was to think about the 40 man roster as a portfolio that needed to be diversified, and to exploit the healthy payroll he was given to the hilt. In positions where the Red Sox did not have an All-Star, Epstein managed to sign multiple players whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Think of Pokey Reese and Mark Bellhorn at second base in 2004, or the troika of Jeremy Gimbi, David Ortiz, and Kevin Millar at 1B/DH in 2003, or Millar and John Olerud this year at first base. Not every signing paid off, but Epstein hit the jackpot way more often than he crapped out. And he did this without trading away all that much in the way of young talent. Meanwhile, both David Wells and Manny Ramirez want out of Beantown because of a lack of privacy. MSNBC’s Mike Celizic thinks Epstein’s departure is a harbinger of disasters to come to Red Sox Nation:
When a man walks out on the job he dreamed of having all his life, a job for which he?s just been offered triple his previous pay, there?s something seriously wrong either with the man or with the job. With most people, I?d pick the man as the one who?s stripped the threads on a couple of mental screws. But not with Theo Epstein, the man who authored the Miracle of Fenway. If Epstein, who took over as the general manager of the Red Sox at 28 and won the World Series at 30, is willing to turn his back on the team he grew up cheering for, a job he was offered $1.5 million a year to perform, there?s something terminally wrong with it. Red Sox fans had better get used to that realization, and they had better hearken back to what life was like before 2004, when they entered the spring of every season knowing that waiting for them in the fall was only heartbreak. The Red Sox will get another general manager, but the job he faces is daunting. The left fielder wants out. The center fielder is a free agent who can?t play center field any more. There?s no closer in the bullpen and no middle relief. The starting pitching is a mess. The newspapers, even more smothering in their coverage of the Sox than the New York papers are in their coverage of the Yankees, are starting to nip at the team?s heels. In the clubhouse, which not long ago was happier than a squirrel in a birdfeeder, there are stories of dissension. In other words, the Red Sox are turning back into what they always have been ? a team playing a game, as Bart Giamatti once wrote, that?s meant to break your heart.
Methinks Celizic is way too pessimistic. A rebuilt farm system is going to be providing the Red Sox with a bevy of fresh arms and speed over the next few years. And I think the current owenership is still pretty interested in winning another World Series or two. That said, it’s still going to be a very bumpy off-season — but was true the year they won it all (remember A-Rod?). However, the staff here at danieldrezner.com wishes the best of luck to Mr. Epstein in any of his futute career pursuits — so long as they don’t entail taking over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ GM job. UPDATE: David Pinto has more at Baseball Musings here and here. Via his blog, I found this wonderful rant :
God Damn! They are now just another team. Here’s the thing, kids. Here’s what’s different about Boston. Yankee fans are frontrunners, we all know that. They root for the 27 World Championships. Angels fans want to play with their thunder stix and Rally Monkey(r). Cubs fans want a party; the team is the medium for that. Sox fans aren’t fans of the team. Rather, every Sox fan thinks he/she is ON the team. Theo was our guy who was ON THE TEAM. They could sell dirt from the ’04 field, or blow up Fenway Park,or sell those silly membership cards, we didn’t care. They could jam that effin’ Sweet Caroline down our gullets every day (twice on the split admission day-nighters). We didn’t care. We were ON THE TEAM. Theo was our surrogate. He got Papi; he had dinner with Curt; he got rid of that pain in the ass Nomar. We have all been kicked off the team. God Damn.
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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