Archive for October 12th, 2011

Theo Epstein is off to fight his next curse. According to WEEI, the Red Sox boy wonder has decided that the grass is greener at Wrigley Field than Fenway Park and joined Terry Francona as the latest to flee hostility in Red Sox Nation.

Can the Red Sox survive without their Boy Wonder?

The collapse of the Red Sox’ baseball hierarchy caps off a season in which the team went from being considered the best in franchise history to the worst that money could buy. With revelations about the dysfunctional atmosphere in the Boston clubhouse continuing to emerge, Epstein may be getting out at just the right time. What’s more, several players may soon be following him out the door, creating a challenging offseason for the Red Sox as the team tries to pick up the pieces from its broken season.

Before the season started, it seemed like Brian Cashman would be the general manager announcing his departure in October. At that time, Epstein was busy filling his team’s wish list with high priced free agents and acquisitions, while Cashman was forced to scour the scrapheap to fill the roles abandoned by Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee. Six months later, however, and with another division title under his belt, Cashman is close to resigning an extension to remain with the Yankees, while Epstein is headed to Chicago. Apparently, spending money isn’t so easy after all?

Although Epstein’s departure makes it appear as if the general manager is washing his hands of the mess left behind in Boston, his transfer to Chicago shouldn’t come with complete absolution, at least not unless he takes John Lackey and Carl Crawford with him. Despite gaining a reputation for being a genius, Epstein’s tenure in Boston has not been without its questionable moves. From the revolving door at shortstop to the failed Daisuke Matsuzaka experiment to ill-conceived midseason acquisitions like Eric Gagne, the Red Sox’ GM has had moments when he didn’t look so smart.

Theo’s Busts: Regrettable Red Sox Free Agents, 2003-2011

Player Offseason Contract Terms
Bobby Jenks 2010 2-years/$12mn
Carl Crawford 2010 7-years/$142mn
Marco Scutaro 2009 2-years/$12.5mn
John Lackey 2009 5-years/$82.5mn
Mike Cameron 2009 2-years/$15.5mn
Daisuke Matsuzaka 2006 6-years/$103.1mn
Edgar Renteria 2004 4-years/$36mn
Matt Clement 2004 3-years/$25.8mn

Source: Cotts contracts

There’s no denying Theo Epstein’s success with the Red Sox, but it also can’t be divorced from the support system provided by the organization. That could be a lesson learned by Epstein in Chicago, once he realizes he no longer has access to the same resources . Similarly, the Red Sox will now be forced to find a new general manager who can not only handle all of the complexities of  Boston, but the varied personalities in the organization itself. Considering the relative stability enjoyed by the Yankees, the Red Sox really can’t afford a rough transition. Although this parting between Epstein and the Red Sox may not immediately elicit sweet sorrow from either side, the potential for future regret remains.

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