Outta’ Right Field: The ups and downs of Theo Epstein

By Jesse Gaunce
October 23, 2011

As a Red Sox fan, I feel as though I am totally in Theo Epstein’s debt for bringing in the right players for both World Series championships that Boston’s boys of summer have won in the last decade. While the euphoria of 2004 and 2007 can never be taken away from Red Sox Nation, it’s time for change.

Epstein has done a lot of good and a lot of bad in his tenure as general manager of the Red Sox but I don’t think he is as good of a GM as a lot of people think. The good: he replenished a very anemic minor league system with tons of prospects that are either playing for the Sox now or are serviceable players elsewhere. He also had enough guts to trade franchise icon and fan-favorite Nomar Garciaparra to address glaring defensive issues that led to the 2004 World Series title.

The bad: he has signed a lot of notable free agents to ridiculous contracts that just have not worked out. The list is too long, but trust me when I say he has an awful track record of free agent signings, save for David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Johnny Damon and Adrian Beltre.

The other reason I don’t think he was as good as people think is because he inherited a lot of good players from the Dan Duqette era who were essential in bringing both of the titles to Boston.

Since 2009, they’ve blown it in the playoffs and the regular season and Epstein was criticized every year for not addressing the team’s pitching needs at the trade deadline.

Obviously, a lot of this falls on the players themselves for not living up to their unnecessarily large contracts (Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Carl Crawford, to name a few) but Epstein is ultimately the one who brings these players in. (Note: Epstein did not make the Josh Beckett trade but did give him a contract extension at the start of the 2010 season).

Epstein does not put the uniform on and run out onto the field every night but I’ve questioned his ability over the years to mentally evaluate players after all the drama with Manny Ramirez over the years, Edgar Renteria feeling isolated from his teammates in 2005 and the complacency that turned this year’s team into a collective locker room and on-field joke.

Despite how I may feel personally about him, rational fans like myself realize that those titles wouldn’t have happened without Epstein. Thanks for everything, Theo. Good luck in Chicago.

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Jesse Gaunce

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