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Is Theo Epstein to blame for the Red Sox’ skid?

Sep 19, 2011, 12:13 PM EST

Carl Crawford Signs with the Boston Red Sox Getty Images

The Red Sox’ late season implosion is the talk of the morning, and the focal point of that talk is Jeff Passan’s column over at Yahoo! in which he assigns blame for Boston’s post season collapse.

It’s a failure — or potential failure, depending on how the next ten days go — that has many fathers, but Passan leads with Theo Epstein as the primary culprit. The reason: Epstein left his team’s cupboard bare and made blunders that resulted in the Red Sox’ rotation being painfully thin (Exhibit A: Kyle Weiland pitching critical games during a pennant race).

I’ll admit that it’s an awful state of affairs. But I’m struggling to see how this is a matter of Theo Epstein’s poor planning as opposed to just a lot of rotten luck.  Passan and I have had a lively back and forth on this on Twitter this morning (still in progress as I write this!), in which I have accused him of second guessing and he has accused me of being a Theo Epstein apologist.  But to me it seems that it comes down to whether or not you think Epstein screwed up in only trading for Erik Bedard at the deadline (Passan’s view) or if you think that Epstein did the best he could have done at the time given the situation on the ground.

In my view, that situation saw the Red Sox with a two-game lead in the AL East and a several games lead for a playoff position. It saw them with one real hole in the rotation — Clay Buchholz‘s injury — but with a team that was otherwise in good shape.  It’s obvious now that they’re not in good shape. Beckett has been hurt, Lester has missed time and all manner of other things have gone wrong. But was that sufficiently foreseeable?  To be fair, Passan saw only trading for Bedard as a risk at the time (see #29).

But what else should Epstein have done?  Traded good prospects for pitching when, at the time anyway, the playoffs seemed totally secure?  And what pitching would you trade for?  It was a terribly thin market for starting pitching. Passan just tweeted to me that Boston should have considered “at least one proven starter like Kuroda/Wandy/Fister/EJax/Lowe/Guthrie. Even Marquis or Harang or innings-eater.”  Of course most of those guys weren’t ultimately traded because of their price tag, be it in terms of current salary or the prospects they would have cost. Marquis flamed out.

I’m not a Theo Epstein apologist. I think it’s fair, once a season is over, to look back at what the GM did or did not do and say what did or did not work.  But I think that there’s a difference between that and saying that he “blundered” and is the person most responsible for the Red Sox’ “choke” down the stretch.  Carl Crawford wasn’t supposed to suck. Daniel Bard wasn’t supposed to implode.  Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz weren’t supposed to have multiple nagging injuries. A lot of stuff has happened.

So what do you think?  Is Epstein the author of this failure-in-progress? Or is this just a perfect storm?

  1. qcubed3 - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Backpfeifengesicht

  2. Francisco (FC) - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Boston should have considered “at least one proven starter like Kuroda/Wandy/Fister/EJax/Lowe/Guthrie

    Lowe… the only thing Lowe is proving these days is that he’s one switch away from becoming a train-wreck.

    • JBerardi - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Everyone’s a proven starter before they pitch in the AL East with Fenway as their home park.

  3. baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    Agreed. From what I understand, Theo made a serious bid for Kuroda. But the Sox farm system, while still seemingly healthy, probably couldn’t afford to give up a lot of good prospects after the Gonzalez trade. They got Bedard, a guy with a lot of upside who to that point had been healthy for a while, and they didn’t give up a whole lot to get him. Like you said, the pitching market was thin, the prices were high, and practically every starter has missed time this year. We also didn’t know that Buchholz was done for the season at that point.

    • leokitty - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:29 PM

      Kuroda wouldn’t waive his NTC.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:18 PM

        Ah…so yeah, there you go. Doesn’t seem like it was for lack of planning. The rest of those names don’t excite me…

  4. leokitty - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    One nitpick–Youkilis has nagging injuries pretty much every year. That’s something everyone expects now, I think. Especially with a move to 3B.

    • lardin - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      And yet Lowrie is the number one backup.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:01 PM

        True, but he DID have a .381 OBP in the minors. Doesn’t look like he’s anything more than a mediocre backup player now…but he’s been hurt a lot and hadn’t really had an extended chance before.

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:08 PM

        Lowrie had a freak injury occur this year and it is still affecting him. When he has been healthy and given a chance to play his defense is far better than it has been this year and his offensive ability is unquestioned.

  5. Jonny 5 - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    He didn’t grab it by its haunches and h..h..hump it into submission, that’s the only way. So yes, it’s his fault.

  6. professorperry - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    The problem is not 2011. It’s 2010 and the money sunk into Lackey. The cost-benefit of moving for the guys available this July was not worth it.

  7. leerosenthall - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Really, for everyone not in Boston, this epic collapse is comforting, as it suggests that the universe has been restored to order. Don’t mess with the Bambino.

    • bigharold - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      The Universe restored to order? Could be but consider this; Epstein is responsible for;

      – SS being pretty much being a black hole for his entire tenure. They’ve paid a lot of money for guys to go play SS for other teams.

      – Lets not forget the A-Rod trade. He screwed that up royally. Perhaps it was the owner that would spend the money, … yes they did win the WS in 04 but they looked inept and out of their league in this particular episode. If a GM is willing to risk embarrassing the face of the franchise he should know whether or not he can pull it off before hand. All the A-Rod haters aside he was considered the best player in the game at the time. Sure, Nomar was never the same player after 03 that he was before it but the point remains that they rolled the dice on something of this magnitude and looked foolish in the process. The only reason that it wasn’t an earth shaking colossal bust was that aside from winning the WS in 04 Nomar went south physically. But that was more luck than design.

      – JD Drew, made no sense when they signed him and has pretty much been an expensive dud.

      – Not keeping Johnny Damon. For the entire time that Damon was doing a very good job for the Yankees, CF for the RS was mess. Crsip was never the answer for losinng Damon and Elsbury is only now showing them what he is capable of. Ask yourself; of the two who has been worth 14-15 mil a year over the last five years Damon or Drew? Most might argue neither but of the two Damon has done a far better job.

      – Lackey, will be a very expensive mistake. And, for those ready to point to AJ Burnett; 1. we are not discussing the Yankees, 2. at least the Yankees have so far got one good season from Burnett.

      – Crawford seems like he’s poised to smash through the Vernon Wells-Chone Figgins incredibly bad contract threshold. The jury is still out but he’ll have to be Superman for the remainder of the contract to overcome this first year. If he rebounds a little it’ll be like JD Drew all over again but at twice the price.

      – Adrian Gonzalez will likely never be a bust but he was the wrong 1B for the RS, they should have went all in on Teixeira. Epstein went up against the Yankees and he folded up like a cheap card table. He had a figure in their head about what he was worth and when the Yankees offered more they just quit. It never occurred to them that the amount that they thought Teixeira was worth didn’t include the Yankees having an interest or that the Yankees after spending over 230 million dollars on FA they might not want a bidding war for a FA they didn’t absolutely need. It appeared that they were blindsided by the Yankee interest and were totally unprepared for it. Letting Teixeira get away forced the RS to go all in on Gonzalez. What’s wrong with that?? To start with it forced Youkilis to go back to 3B at 32 years old rather than 30. At that point in a career 3B become 1B, not the other way around. The transition would have been easier at 30, Gonalez is a pretty good signing but Teixeira was a better fit.

      His loyalty to Veritek is idiotic. At least when the Yankees resigned Posada he could still hit. Veritek can’t hit, can’t run or throw, … BUT he call a great game? Then make him a catchers coach and have him call a great game from the dugout. Keeping Veritek for the last three years is merely delaying the development or acquisition of a competent catcher.

      The normal things like injuries and lesser signings not working out are part and parcel of a GMs job. But, with the money and commitment that is being thrown around today’s major FA the GM absolutely need to get the big signings right. Epstein doesn’t have a real good record at that. So, from the Bridge of the Death Star I conclude by saying: Thanks Theo and keep up the good wor, .. er .. keep it up!

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:39 PM

        Big Harold,

        There isn’t a single Red Sox fan alive that would want to go back and do the ARod deal differently. And it was John Henry who wisely set the threshhold for spending. That the Yankees stepped in and got it done is neither here nor there. The Red Sox have won 2 World Series since then to the Yankees 1. I doubt A-Rod would have made much of a difference.

        JD Drew has been one of the best overall RF’ers in the game and in particular, the AL. That you fail or refuse to recognize that fact is your prerogative.

        There is no disagreeing on John Lackey. I didn’t like him when he was in Anaheim and now I loathe his existence.

        Crawford has played with nagging injuries for most of the season. His 2nd half has been much improved from his woeful 1st half. My bet is that he has turned the corner and we will see in 2012 what we expected to see this year – All Star Carl Crawford.

        The Yankees overpaid for Teixera. In fact, you need to review history a bit before making your case – Tex had reportedly told the Red Sox that they were the high bidder. Then Tex went back to the Yanks with his Red Sox offer, the Yanks overpaid to keep him from the Red Sox and Tex never gave the Sox the courtesy of matching or beating the Yanks offer. The Red Sox found out from the media that Tex had chosen the Yanks. Tex is the perfect Yankees player. I’m glad he found his home.

        And how you can say AGon is the wrong 1B for the Red Sox is beyond comprehension.

        The Catching tandem of Varitek and Saltalamacchia has been one of the most productive Catching situations in baseball. Hard to find fault in 33 Doubles, 27 HR’s, 83 Runs and 89 RBI coming from the Catcher’s spot. But, yeah, I guess that’s been a miserable failure.

      • spindervish - Sep 19, 2011 at 3:28 PM

        Points #2 and #4 are debatable, #3 is flat wrong and #7 is just idiotic.

      • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:14 PM

        1) It hasn’t been that bad considering the low offensive standards of MLB shortstops. Scutaro’s been pretty good, he signed Iglesias…not many good shortstops.
        2) Yes…they DID win in ’07, that’s about all I need to know.
        3) Drew was pretty damn good before this year. O-B-P
        4) Lackey sucks. But Cashman has made mistakes. If you want to turn the conversation the other way…Burnett would be a good place to start.
        5) Give Crawford a chance, he’s still only 30. I thought it was an overpay at the time…but whatever, it’s not gonna be an albatross.
        6) Eh…Gonzo’s one of the best, and younger. Not concerned.
        7) *coughJetercough* Again…catchers can’t hit either. Who is he blocking?

      • Ari Collins - Sep 19, 2011 at 9:50 PM

        Piling on here, but aside from the many other things people have pointed out: Boston would have traded Lester in the A-Rod deal. So… not too shook up it didn’t happen.

    • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:16 PM

      The Bambino is, uh, dead.

      Sorry if you didn’t get the memo.

  8. unsatisfiedmind - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    As I said on Twitter, I’m torn. I don’t see how anyone could have expected the plethora of injuries and under-performance (both to key pitching & hitting components) that struck the Sox this season, and I, like many fans & pundits, expected this team to be a juggernaut — which for much of the heart of the season it was…

    That said, it seems me that the purpose of a front office (and a manager) is to prepare for & react to the unexpected problems that do arise in a season. If everything had gone according to the plan that was set in motion in the off-season, a trained monkey probably could have managed a team with this much talent to a playoff spot.

    I don’t know if there’s anything that Epstein & Co. could have done to minimize the risk, or to mitigate the impact once the perfect storm of Crawford, Lackey, and the Injury Bug hit. That probably was an impossible task this season due to both internal and external MLB factors, but I still fundamentally think it’s the front office’s responsibility to minimize & mitigate. To that end, I think Epstein has some responsibility for the struggles.

    Obviously odds still heavily favor the Sox making the playoffs. If they make a run for the title, this September swoon, and its bookend early April sputtering start will likely all be forgotten…

    • wvs11 - Sep 19, 2011 at 11:09 PM

      You can’t predict injuries, but you can certainly identify players who are likely to get hurt based on past health. Oft-injured players tend to get hurt often. Youkilis, Lowrie, Beckett, Drew, Scutaro, Jenks. You can probably start throwing Pedroia’s name in there, too. Gonzalez was coming off shoulder surgery; that he would occasionally struggle to hit for power was evident. And the rotation depth was a problem heading into the season.

      That’s not to say Epstein was the architect of those injuries, or failed to account for them. The offense has done just fine — maybe even better than hoped. The big sin here was not building depth in the rotation — with the caveat that pitcher’s health is a crapshoot. (After all, Epstein had built plenty of depth in the bullpen…)

      Of course, given the market for pitching and the unexpectedly poor performances from Boston’s best pitching prospects, what could he have done differently?

  9. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Kuroda/Wandy/Fister/EJax/Lowe/Guthrie

    Kuroda – as mentioned above, he didn’t waive his NTC
    Wandy – super expensive, if you believe the asking price when the Yanks were in on him
    Fister – in 1/3 the innings, he’s dropped his walk rate from 2.0/9 to 0.8 and his K rate has gone up from 5.5 to 7.0. He’s also dropped his h/9 by 1.5. huge regression candidate
    Lowe – K rate is up, but so is his walk rate. Hit rate is up as well. still expensive as he’s owed $15M this year and next
    Guthrie – Wait, Jeremy Guthrie? The one with Balt? How is this an upgrade over what they have?

    So basically the only upgrade is EJax? That’s what Passan is hanging his hat on?

    • Kevin S. - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:21 PM

      The same E-Jax whose new team haf to give up Colby Rasmus to acquire. Yeah…

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:17 PM

        The same E-Jax who is not going to be re-signed by the Cardinals?

      • Kevin S. - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        I meant it was silly to criticize the Sox for not getting Jackson, since the Cardinals wildly overpaid for him.

  10. sparkycon - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    I know the reason:It’s because the RED SOX SUCK! And for their pompous, smarmy fans, you deserve it!

    • baseballisboring - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:23 PM

      You’re just jealous. Ya fahkin queeah.

      • sparkycon - Sep 20, 2011 at 10:19 AM

        very nice coming from someone who thinks baseball is boring. why don’t you go “paaaak the caaaaaa”

    • baseballisboring - Sep 20, 2011 at 1:55 PM

      well i can see someone struggles with sarcasm, both in my user name and comment…

  11. sdelmonte - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    The Crawford deal is his albatross at the moment. And it’s really too soon to declare that one a total failure since Crawford could revert to form in the future.

    And maybe he should have build a better rotation going into the season. Though I have to wonder if he just looked at the Yanks and saw Colon and Garcia and figured he was in better shape.

    But at the end of the season, the GM isn’t the one who plays the games. The players that looked like world-beaters six weeks ago are the ones who will be responsible for the final record.

  12. aaronmoreno - Sep 19, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    This would never have happened if they hired Brad Pitt to be the GM.

  13. proudlycanadian - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Where in the rules of baseball, does it say that the Red Sox have to make the playoffs?

    • tomemos - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:07 PM

      Check back with us next year, when the new wild card arrangement kicks in.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      where in the rules of baseball does it say the bluegays have to finish with around a .500 record every year and in 4th place? It just is baby so get used to it

      • cur68 - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:39 PM

        There you are harry, and bless you. I missed you the last little while. Been keeping well, I hope? Don’t fret about your Blue Jays my friend. They’re looking better than they have in ages. Cheer up, bud.

  14. lardin - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    I happen to believe that the condition the Red Sox are in is all Theo Epstein’s fault. For one reason: Its called Team Depth. Theo put together a team that is very top heavy. Its not just the deals hes made this year its the deals hes in made in the past as well. The starting lineup on this team is great. But when injuries happen, this team falls apart. It is Theo’s job to assume the worst case scenario, which he never does. We have seen it the last few years. When players get hurt, there is no one in AAA to take their place. This team has no bench. They have three really good starters, but after that garbage. They have three options in the bullpen who are worth anything.

    That rests on Theo. Very rarely does a team make it through the season using only 5 starters. Theo failed to account for that. The fact the Lowrie is the best option for a utility player and Darnell Mcdonald is the fouth outfielder says all you need to know.

    Contrast that with the Yankees who have amazing depth at all positions. They have four players who can play CF. They have solid infield depth as well. Chavez has filled in for Arod and performed well. The Yankees have deep bullpen. Their second best starter (Nova) was sent to minors at one point because they had to much SP. They have a two very good defensive catchers and currently have their two best prospects who also catchers on the roster.

    Make no mistake, injuries happen. It is Theo Epstein’s job to anticipate this(especially with an older team) and build accordingly.

    Some people might say well how can you anticipate injuries? Easy, that is his job.

    • JBerardi - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:44 PM

      “That rests on Theo. Very rarely does a team make it through the season using only 5 starters. Theo failed to account for that.”

      He started the season with five established major league starters in the rotation, with Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves, Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller and Kyle Wieland as immediate starter depth. That’s ten possible MLB starters out of spring training. The problem has been injuries, not a lack of planning. You can only plan for so much.

      • lardin - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:04 PM

        The Sox started the season with 5 legit Major league starters but, Beckett and Dice K are/were injury risks and Lackey and Wakefield have been/are ineffective. So in essence the Sox started the year with two starters they could count on and Bucholtz got hurt. Why they wont move Aceves to the rotation full time, I dont know. So that leaves Doubront, Miller and Wieland as depth. In his six seasons in MLB Miller has a 5.80 ERA. Felix Doubront had never started a game in the Majors. Then he got hurt. Kyle Wieland had a 4.42 ERA in double in 2010 and 3.58 at AAA before being called up this year. He also has not had a winning record since never, since the best hes ever been was 3-3 in 2008. Thats a great plan….

    • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      Strange criticism about team depth. Spoken like a Yankees fan, perhaps? And spoken like someone who forgets that the Red Sox stand at 11-4 against the Yanks this season.

      A Yanks team, BTW that has more than its fair share of luck break its way this season with regard to Starting Pitching. Lest we forget that they signed Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood and Mark Pryor out of desperation in hopes that they could contribute something to a team that featured CC Sabathia and a bunch of 3-5 Starters with question marks coming into the season. That Nova has emerged as a viable rotation piece is a happy development for them. But make no mistake about it – the Yankees remain incredibly vulnerable come playoff time.

      But let’s discuss:
      Last season the Sox missed Pedroia for half a season, Youk for 60 Games, Ellsbury for virtually the entire season. Beckett and Papelbon had bad years and the magic finally ran out for Okajima and yet, they won 89 Games and remained competitive right into mid-September.

      That could only be done with depth.

      This season they remain on pace to win 90+ Games and have depth that 90% of the teams in baseball would gladly take. Reddick, Aviles, Sutton and even Lowrie although injury has hampered him for most of the year.

      On the pitching side, everyone outside of Boston seems to overlook the importance of adding Aceves – who has easily been the Sox most valuable non-SP. Yankees fans remember the non-tendered Aceves, right?

      And while the media loves to lump the Yankees and Red Sox together (the Phils as well) in the astronomical salary department – the Red Sox are still no where close to what the Yanks spend. And that is reflected by the bench salaries. The Red Sox pay the likes of Aviles in the 6 figures, while the Yankees pay the likes of Chavez and Andruw Jones in the 7 figures.

      It’s easy to sit here and pick out current problem areas for the Sox – but NO ONE was doing it in February and March – including scared Yankees fans who have become increasingly emboldened as the season has gone on – forgetting that they are firmly standing in a house of cards once the playoffs start.

      See ya in October, old friends.

      • lardin - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:22 PM

        I absolutely said it in Feb/March. When You start the season with two starting pitchers who you could count on your going to be in trouble. The only thing I got wrong was I figured Beckett would get hurt and miss half the season, not Bucholtz. When you are counting on Dice K, Lackey, and Wakefield thats poor planning.

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:07 PM

        And what did you say about the Yankees who began the season with ONE reliable Starting Pitcher?

      • ssazz - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        “Strange criticism about team depth. Spoken like a Yankees fan, perhaps? And spoken like someone who forgets that the Red Sox stand at 11-4 against the Yanks this season.”

        Ha, ha! Red Sox fans are actually clinging to that head to head record now when they’re 6 behind Yanks in loss column? Classic! Also, how does that 11-4 record refute an argument about team depth? Considering the Sox are imploding down the stretch because they can’t fill the gap for injured players, whereas the Yankees have built their AL East doing exactly that, I’d say it’s a perfectly salient point.

        As for “see ya in October”, well I know one team that’s gonna be there, the other, well not so much yet…

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 6:16 PM

        ssazz,

        I’m not clinging to the 11-4 record. The facts are the facts. And if the Red Sox didn’t lose Buchholz in June, Yankees fans would still be complaining about their teams lack of Starting Pitching depth.

        I’ll hit the panic button when and if the Wild Card is tied, and if the Yankees can’t take care of the Rays.

        As for the Red Sox slide? It’s end begins tonight as Lacking knows his manhood is literally hanging on the outcome of this game.

        I HATE this term . . . but it’s time the Sox “cowboy up”.

  15. APBA Guy - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Depth is a problem around the majors. It’s unlikely anyone could have foreseen the number of serious injuries that the Red Sox have suffered. Every team has some injuries, but the Sox have had a ton, and nobody expected Crawford to be so unproductive.

    Take a look at the pitching: Buchholz and Matsuzaka severely reduced number of starts, Beckett had some reduction, and even Lester’s velocity is down 3 mph this year (where is his blazing FB?). Lackey has been below expectations. Nobody has 3 MLB caliber starters just sitting around, let alone 4.

    Add Gonzo and Youklis’ injuries to the pitching injuries, plus Crawford and JD Drew’s final collapse, and you then figure out the dollar value of the contracts involved. In Boston’s case, that’s about $ 100M in contracts partially or completely disabled, or unproductive, at this moment.

    Now, compare the Red Sox situation to the Phils. The Phils have had Blanton down, but replaced him with Worley. Three of the top 4 starters (Halladay, Lee, Hamels) have been virtually injury free this year. Oswalt has been up and down, and replaced by Kendrick. On offense, Utley missed the start of the season, Howard’s dinged now, Rollins missed a little time, but really only Utley was a major factor.

    We see that the Plillies, in addition to being very, very good have had a fortunate injury year. Amaro had sufficient depth in place to overcome, or at least offset, the team’s potential loss of performance. Most critically, 3 of the top 4 starters have been healthy all year.

    Bottom line: building a contender these days means having to overpay on the free agent market, reducing the financial flexibility to build depth (including the number of prospects available for trade). Thus, contenders are acutely vulnerable to a run of particularly bad luck. Boston is suffering through that now.

    • lardin - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:26 PM

      The Red Sox started this season with one, maybe two starting pitchers they could count on in Lester in Bucholtz. Becket and Dice K are injury risks and Lackey and Wakefield have not performed well either this year or last year. How do you go into the season with only two pitchers you can count on? Especially when you have a 170 million dollar payroll?

      The fact of the matter is Theo Epstein is not a great GM. He didnt sign Manny. He didnt draft Lester. He did not trade for Beckett. He did not trade for Varitek. He did sign Renteria, Drew, Crawford, Lackey, Matt Clement and Julio Lugo.

      The one good thing hes done in the past few seasons is trade for Adrian Gonzalez.

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:23 PM

        He’s also been the GM of a team that has averaged 90+ wins for the 9 seasons he has been at the helm. Yeah he’s a terrible GM.

        Oh yeah, he also signed Papi, Millar, Mueller, Aceves, and Foulke to name just a few – and of course he’s only drafted and/or developed Pedroia, Buchholz, Lester, Ellsbury and Reddick under his watch.

        Terrible GM.

      • lardin - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:48 PM

        Big Leagues: Epstein did not sign Big Papi or Draft Jon Lester. But I will give credit to Theo for drafting and signing the Pedroia, Bucholtz and Ellsbury. The jury is still out on Reddick.

      • clydeserra - Sep 19, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        Not a good GM? Didn’t the Red Sox, a first division team, have 4 draft picks before the second round this year?

        That’s damn good gee-emming.

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:02 PM

        Lardin,

        I know Theo didn’t “draft” Lester – and that’s why I stated “he’s only drafted AND/OR developed “. Lester was drafted in the June 2002 entry draft, by interim GM Mike Port. BTW, Theo was already working as Lucchino’s right hand man at the time. Theo’s previous job was as Director of Baseball Operations for the Padres. So it is quite possible that Theo’s opinion of Lester factored into his being drafted. But let’s not split hairs . . .

        Because you are flat out wrong about Ortiz. Theo was named Red Sox GM in November 2002. Ortiz was signed as FA in January 2003.

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 4:05 PM

        clydeserra:

        Don’t speak of sense and logic in the face of envy and half-truths!

      • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 6:19 PM

        Hellllllooooo Lardin,

        Acknowledge thy error on Mr. Epstein’s acquisition of Sir Papi, good man.

        Cheery-oh.

  16. tpxdmd - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    I think the absurd expectations of this team are to blame.
    Before the season started, after acquiring Gonzalez and Crawford, they were suddenly the 1927 Yankees rebuilt by Skynet in 2035 and sent back to our time. They couldn’t be stopped. People all over the internet, not just in New England nor the ample backwaters of the I Love Theo Epstein and Everything He Does sections of the internet. But everywhere.

    But if someone would have looked carefully, they’d have seen a rotation with Matsuzaka and Lackey, two guys who were bad signings from the start, Josh Beckett, who basically is reliving AJ Burnett’s career (have fun with that for the next few years), Clay Buccholz, whose peripheral numbers suggested he was not quite as good as he seemed last year, and Jon Lester, who’s an ace anywhere and a top 5 AL pitcher. So that rotation was a giant question mark. Then your depth is 45 year old heartwarming story.

    You look at the lineup, you certainly had some solid expectations for Gonzalez, Crawford Youkilis, Pedroia and Ortiz. You had a boatfull of hope for Ellsbury and Ortiz, and you’d take whatever was coming from Right and Catcher. But ultimately, Gonzalez, who has basically been what should be expected, and only in Boston could he be viewed as a disappointment, Ortiz, who has risen from the dead more times than Jean Gray, is having his best season since 2007, Pedroia who was having an absurd June through August, Ellsbury who’s having a career year. Youkilis, as was mentioned, is oft injured anyway, and certainly on the wrong side of the aging curve. And Crawford, who has always been a midling onbase and power guy, relying primarily on speed to be of value, is certainly way worse, but that was a bad signing and will be for years to come.

    No one could have counted on Ellsbury or Ortiz’s seasons, and Pedroia’s summer was ridiculous.

    This was always a good team, but it was never the world-beating team that they were billed as in February, when they were handed the 2011 World Series trophy.

    That’s what felled the Red Sox. Theo put together a highly competitive team in the best division. He just didn’t redefine what it meant to have a baseball team, like so many people credited him as having done.

  17. sportsdrenched.com - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    Don’t worry Red Sox fans, I’m sure the Cubs will take him. Then you’ll have to sing Cinderella songs about not knowing what you have till it’s gone.

  18. bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Quite simply this is a perfect storm.

    And how does Passan know for sure who the Red Sox did or didn’t talk to about which Pitchers? He doesn’t.

    I’m a Red Sox fan. I love Theo. But I’d also be the first to criticize him if I thought this slump was his fault. John lackey is his fault. Horrible signing and I said it the day it happened. But Daniel Bard? The spate of late season injuries? That’s not Theo’s fault.

    BTW, Carl Crawford? He’s been much better in the 2nd half than he was in the first – though still not the “Carl Crawford” who we expected to see. Never-the-less he has mostly righted the ship in the 2nd half and it is at least a sign that he is getting past injury and big stage jitters.

    If the blame needs to be placed somewhere, perhaps there is a case to be made, that based on the past two seasons – its time to look at the possibility of a new medical team (and I state this as someone who has Dr. Gill as a doctor).

  19. urteamsux52 - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    wow to spend all that money for a season and its a week left in the season and we are talking about redsox might not make it as a wildcard this is awesome. boston you all deserve this you all walk around with that stupid b on your hats thinking your the best well your not and your women are the worst not even top 50 out of 50 states GO O’s beat em

  20. nelsonsaint - Sep 19, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    who cares?

  21. marshmallowsnake - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    This is great! The season is not over yet, and they are calling it a choke. When they make the playoffs, and the Rays do not, will that be a choke?

    Wait until the race is over before calling teams out.

  22. psousa1 - Sep 19, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Not a Theo apologist (somewhat of a detractor really – not from a baseball standpoint but trying to throw Larry Lucchino under the bus a few years ago and then quits when the other side of the story comes out) but what could he have done? Lackey is not good, Crawford has been bad. Crawford has completely unprofessional at bats. If Bucholz was health – division is over

  23. natstowngreg - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    This Passan fellow seems to suffer from a common delusion about the Red Sox (and the Yankees) — that the team, being rich, can just go out and spend money to fill whatever hole exists at any given time. Either by buying a free agent, or by throwing prospects at some non-contender to get an expensive player. I agree with those who have pointed out the Red Sox’ just plain bad luck with injuries this season.

  24. 18thstreet - Sep 19, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    I *am* a Theo apologist. I can defend practically everything he’s ever done, and often have. (Try me.) I’m nuts about the guy.

    But he made a HUGE mistake in thinking that Youkilis is still a third baseman. And given how left-handed the rest of the batting order is, they really can’t afford an injury to a righty hitter.

    I’m a huge pessimist for the next three years. I think the roster is flawed.

    • bigleagues - Sep 19, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      This will be for me . . . arguing with a fellow Red Sox fan with whom which I likely already 95% agree with.

      But as it pertains to Epstein having Youkilis shift over to 3B – how is this a mistake? The guy has been in the MVP discussion in 3 of the last 5 years – including this one, until injuries derailed him.

      Despite playing in only 112 Games at 3B, he is 5th among all MLB 3B in WAR, 9th in UZR and 3rd in FP.

      He is 3rd in wRC+, 6th in ISO, and 6th in OPS.

      He’s easily been one of the best 3B in the game this year and the drop-off after the top 5-6 3B is steep.

      And yes, I understand that Beltre has been better overall – but I’m not sure he’s been 5 years/$96 million better (with $18 mil due at age 36).

      • 18thstreet - Sep 20, 2011 at 8:57 AM

        He can’t field there — his body has changed from the guy who used to be a great third baseman. UZR is somewhat ambivalent about him a barely negative 1.4, though it’s worth noting that in limited innings at third, he’s been in the negative form three years now.

        No one is questioning him as a hitter. At least, I’m not. But I will say (a) that he’s not a particularly good fielder at third even though he was a great one at first, and (b) playing third has made him more likely to get injured, because it’s a more demanding position. And he all know how intensely he plays.

        If not for the fact that he’s right handed, it would have been a risk worth taking. But the team is stacked with lefties — Ellsbury, Crawford, Ortiz, Drew (now Reddick), Gonzalez — and switch hitters who handle lefties better than righties. Injuries to Pedroia and Youkilis are more harmful than injuries to the others because there’s so few good right-handed bats in the lineup. That Mike Cameron didn’t work out, I believe, is one of the things that’s really hurting the team in subtle ways.

      • bigleagues - Sep 20, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        I’ll give you credit . . . that was an excellent counter argument.

        I’m still inclined to disagree because I’m not sure what the Red Sox could have done differently this past off-season to fill that position (short of a Brent Morel type approach – sticking someone like Iglesias over there and punting on offense?).

        As great as Youk has been at 1B, his UZR did fall sharply last season and Gonzalez has been the best in baseball this season – and is most certainly a better hitter than Youk at this point in their careers.

        I contend that Youk’s been affected by his bum hip for longer than we have known, and that the hip has probably played the biggest role in his decline at 3B.

  25. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Sep 19, 2011 at 7:11 PM

    Perfect storm. If the Red Sox didn’t pay Crawford $142 mil somebody else would have. And what pitchers were readily available for the Sox to acquire? Exactly

    • 18thstreet - Sep 20, 2011 at 9:00 AM

      My hunch is that, if they had known how good Ellsbury was going to be, they wouldn’t have signed Crawford. I don’t know who would have played left (or center) this year, but it would have been someone a lot cheaper and for fewer years.

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