With the difficulties experienced by the Boston Red Sox during the past couple of seasons, the blame game has intensified to a level that even the crassest New Englanders have not seen in some time. Red Sox owner John Henry, ex Managers Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine and the players themselves have all been caught in the crosshairs.
There is one particular fellow who has seemed to have pulled a Houdini act, and has escaped any direct criticism for the current abysmal state of the team, although he may be the biggest cause for the mess. This individual is former Red Sox General Manager and current Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein.
Epstein is known as a genius. This sounds oddly similar to a nickname which was given to the alleged unethical NeoCon political strategist, Karl Rove. Knowing the team was on a decline, mostly as a result of his own doing, did Epstein succeed in worming his way out of Boston and onto the broad shoulders of unsuspecting Chicagoans? One can only hope Chicago’s shoulders are broad enough to carry the genius’ immature and over-inflated ego.
Since taking the helm as Boston GM in late 2002 at age 28, Epstein strutted into the job with the smug arrogance which only a guru of cybermetrics can emit. I am not exactly sure what cybermetrics is, but hey, whatever floats your boat. Personally, I prefer Trivial Pursuit.
With the second highest payroll in baseball, the Red Sox under Epstein, won their first World Series in 86 years in 2004 and then repeated the trick in 2007. Taking advantage of the championship starved fan base, Epstein lorded over these to titles like they were his personal crowning achievements. Sounds like a swell team guy doesn’t it?
Were these accomplishments as a result of Epstein’s hard work and nose for baseball talent, or did he hijack the credit from former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette? Players who were integral to the Red Sox success in 2004, such as P-Pedro Martinez, OF-Manny Ramirez (who the genius called ‘spoiled’) and OF-Johnny Damon, were brought to Boston by Duquette, not Epstein. It seems the devil is always in the details.
Credit should be given to the genius for signing 1B-David Ortiz and OF-Kevin Millar and P-Curt Schilling. Few can argue that Epstein did show signs of baseball brilliance with these moves, but is this the whole story?
Epstein’s baseball IQ tanked quicker than his Red Sox 2011 season, having previously dished out mega bucks for unproductive players such as P-Bobby Jenks, P-John Lackey, P-Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1B-Adrian Gonzalez and OF-Carl Crawford. And there was also P-Josh Beckett, who had a couple of excellent seasons in Boston, but nowhere near what was expected for the kind of money he received.
With the aforementioned high priced busts signed by Epstein, is it really much of a surprise why Sox owner John Henry is dumping salaries, such as the late 2012 season trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers?
After his numerous failed signings, Epstein apparently realized team performance was heading south, so he took the last train west to Chicago to avoid the impending Beantown blowup and potential damage to his future baseball career. Sure there is more than enough blame to go around for the Sox demise, but Epstein seems to be the only one who has slithered away untouched from this mess.
On Halloween October 31, 2005, after a bickering match with Sox owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino, when Epstein would first resign from his GM post, he allegedly departed Fenway Park disguised in a gorilla outfit so he would not be recognized. Unfortuantely for Red Sox fans, Epstein would manage to swing his way back into the team’s GM position, where he would execute financial destruction.
From genius to Magilla Gorilla for sale; quite a fitting departure. The Chicago Cubs are beginning to find out how much that GM gorilla behind the Volvo car window will really cost them.
Story Credit: BFrank from Boston’s bowels.