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Debunking the “blame Theo” movement

Sep 21, 2011, 5:29 PM EDT

Theo Epstein

I suppose that if the Rays keep losing and the Red Sox right the ship that everyone will quickly forget that we were all supposed to blame Theo Epstein for the Red Sox’ woes.  Hard to forget such a blitzkrieg of a meme, however, with so many people hitting on it all at once.  No, no matter what happened, you wanted to blame Theo, America. You really and truly did.

But over at The Platoon Advantage, The Common Man shows us that the blame Theo movement never truly made sense. Mostly by underscoring the fact that the “Epstein should have done something to bolster the rotation depth” charge is ridiculous on its face:

The Sox were prepared if one of their starters proved injured or ineffective. They were prepared if two of their starters couldn’t go. But the Red Sox this September have seen three members of their rotation on the sidelines, and John Lackey’s baffling inability to get anyone out. What reasonable GM would feel like they needed to have 9 viable starters on hand at the start of a season?

The answer is no one. But when a team slides, it’s hard to write a column about how it takes many things working right at the same time to win baseball games and how if some things go wrong it’s much harder to do so.  But “blame Theo?”  Hell, that writes itself.

  1. trevorb06 - Sep 21, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    You have to wonder if some teams/writers who like non red sox teams are trying to make Theo just sound like a bad GM in hope that the sox fire him and their team hires him.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Sep 21, 2011 at 5:40 PM

      I seriously doubt Henry is stupid enough to let the media tell him how to run his ball club

    • Ari Collins - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:17 PM

      Nah, that’s just not their job. The writers’ job is to write something that stirs conversation (even if it’s rather stupid conversation).

  2. aaronmoreno - Sep 21, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    “What reasonable GM would feel like they needed to have 9 viable starters on hand at the start of a season?”

    Certainly not Theo Epstein!!!

    • lardin - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:21 AM

      Actually Theo did see it coming. He did in interview with WEEI in Boston, about the lack of pitching dept in the rotation and the lack of ready arms at AAA. He talked about about how most teams need 10 starters and if the team had a lot of injuries that he did not know where those starts would come from.. So Theo did realize his team lacked options, he just prayed that he would need them..

  3. educatedfools - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    I wrote two posts about this this week. It is unbelievable listening to sports radio in Boston the last couple weeks. Why is everyone so hesitant to blame injuries? I know it is boring but the Sox have had more injuries to more key players than the other contenders.

    http://sexybostonsports.blogspot.com/2011/09/heart-shaped-box.html
    http://sexybostonsports.blogspot.com/2011/09/leave-theo-epstein-alone.html

    • theolgoaler - Sep 21, 2011 at 8:46 PM

      How do injuries affect teams? I got two words for yez…

      Adam. Wainwright.

      (Yeah, I’m a Cardinal fan… been one since I reached the age of reason. Have the BoSox been “cut off at the knees” by injuries/unexpected poor performance with their pitching staff? Yup. To quote an earlier Red Sox Rooter, “‘Nuf Ced!”)

    • natstowngreg - Sep 21, 2011 at 9:36 PM

      Because telling the truth — that a lot of the Red Sox’ problem has been due to injuries — sounds like whining and excuse-making. Real sports talk show blowhards don’t go for sissy reality; they have to blame someone. Same as for real political talk show blowhards.

  4. SmackSaw - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:07 PM

    Um…they’re still leading the wild card. It seems to me that if they don’t make the playoffs, then would be a good time to denigrate Theo. Until then, it’s all barking at the moon.

  5. toosoxy - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Can we start a “blame Curt Young” movement?

  6. The Baseball Gods - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    “Blitzkrieg”?…..seriously Craig? You decide to use a term from the Holocaust to sound super intelligent? I love your work here Craig, but I don’t condone comparing anything to how the Germans raided other countries during World War II. Just a bad choice of words in my opinion.

    • Kevin S. - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:25 PM

      Actually, blitzkrieg as it was applied in World War 2 had to do with the conflict, not the systematic execution of millions of Jews, Poles, Slavs, French, Gypsies, disabled, etc. It also refers to a strategy in chess, among other things. Your righteous indignation is a little misplaced here, methinks.

      • The Baseball Gods - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:29 PM

        “Blitzkrieg” means lightning war and it was used to describe all-mechanised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the latter is broken, proceeding without regard to its flank. Through constant motion, the blitzkrieg attempts to keep its enemy off-balance, making it difficult to respond effectively at any given point before the front has already moved on.

        So it had nothing to do with the conflict and everything to do with the how they used armor warfare to invade other countries during World War II.

        Get your facts straight.

      • Kevin S. - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:39 PM

        “So it had nothing to do with the conflict”

        If you say so.

        “and everything to do with the how they used armor warfare to invade other countries during World War II.”

        … also known as the conflict?

        Get your facts straight.

        Such as understanding the definition of the terms “blitzkrieg,” “conflict,” and “Holocaust?”

      • The Baseball Gods - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:44 PM

        I said it was a term used during the holocaust. I know that Craig didn’t use it as an insult, but Theo Epstein happens to be Jewish and the term is just completely misplaced in my opinion. That’s all I’m saying. A better word could have been used.

      • The Baseball Gods - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:48 PM

        Next time a store/place of business has someone throw something through it’s windows we might as well use the term Kristallnacht.

      • The Common Man - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:57 PM

        Other terms used during the Holocaust: Namby-pamby, straight-shooter, that’s a load of bunk, and step off pally. Shall we not use them too, even though they’re clearly awesome? And if we’re not using terms associated with the Nazi regime, I will go driving on the “German highway” and ask my linebackers to “hurtle themselves forward with all haste and urgency to tackle the quarterback.” It’s a defined military tactic, Kaiser Wilhelm. Back off.

      • Kevin S. - Sep 21, 2011 at 7:13 PM

        Actually, you said it was a term from the Holocaust, implying a closer connection between the two than simply “they happened at the same time.” Which is really the only connection you can make between the two. So, unless you’re going to argue that nothing having any relation to Nazi Germany, even if said relation isn’t the only usage of the term, can ever be used in reference to anything ever, your point was invalid. And if that was what you were arguing, it was ridiculous.

        Also, Kristallnacht, really? How’s the false equivalency treating you? Yeah, that would be pretty inappropriate. It’s also not at all comparable to what Craig said.

    • Lucas - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:28 PM

      He was just referencing the Ramones. Get with it, man!

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:31 PM

      Don’t be such a Nazi, sheesh!

    • mkd - Sep 21, 2011 at 7:04 PM

      The funny thing is that “blitzkrieg” is a probably made up concept applied retroactively to describe German strategy. Blitzkrieg theory was pushed hardest by British strategist BH Liddell-Hart who had proposed that sort of tactic before WWII and pointed to the success of the German offensives as evidence that he had been right all along. He cobbled together some misleading correspondence with German officers to prove it had all been planned in advance, but most military historians now believe the Germans were just making it up as they went along and that they never expected to move that quickly and that easily.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blitzkrieg#Controversy

      • jwbiii - Sep 21, 2011 at 7:38 PM

        David Fraser in Knight’s Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was certainly of that opinion regarding the 1940 French campaign. The subsequent envelopment campaigns in Russia were probably planned.

    • meyerwolf - Sep 22, 2011 at 4:16 AM

      Really, TBG? Really?!

  7. hittfamily - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    I still haven’t found a reasonable explanation for why they acquired Gonzalez. The year before Albert Pujols, Adrain Gonzalez, and Prince Fielder become free agents, he sends 5 prospects packing to fill a need that, if he had waited 1 year later, it would only have cost him a draft pick. He wouldn’t have been bidding against the Phils, Yanks, or Mets, so the market likely would have been lower as well.

    • clydeserra - Sep 21, 2011 at 7:31 PM

      A first round draft pick.

      I bet the trade is better value than getting pujols or Fielder

      • Kevin S. - Sep 21, 2011 at 7:45 PM

        A first-round draft pick (and the marginal pick would have been a second rounder if he was going to sign another Type-A guy anyway) probably wasn’t as valuable as the prospects Theo gave up. The question is whether or not the surplus value A-Gon provided this year over his piddling $5.5 million club option AND the first- or second-round pick was worth more than the prospects surrendered. That is a bit more of an open question.

    • spindervish - Sep 22, 2011 at 9:53 AM

      Really? This mystifies you? How about the fact that Gonzalez is a couple years younger than Pujols and a far better defender than Fielder with a much less worrisome body type. Not to mention the fact that free agency is a crapshoot and someone can always fuck you over a la Teixeira in ’08. A bird in the hand and all that…not that the metaphor works all the way through, seeing as neither of the two FA 1b are twice as good as Gonzalez. Hell, I’d take Gonzalez over Fielder straight up, and certainly for the next seven years.

  8. mkd - Sep 21, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    What reasonable GM would feel like they needed to have 9 viable starters on hand at the start of a season?

    I’d be surprised if the average GM felt like they needed any fewer than 20 viable starters on hand before they stopped worrying about the season. It’s an impossible dream of course, but I’d bet that’s how they really feel.

  9. clydeserra - Sep 21, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    Well the A’s, not a powerhouse or anything, have been using their #8 starter since june.and #9 and #10 has started several games.

    Sure they are not contenders but its not because of their starters (9-11 in ERA FIP and fWAR)

  10. tashkalucy - Sep 21, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    John Farrell made Epstein and Francona look good.

    Neither of them is very good with pitchers.

    Since he has been Sox GM, Epstein has spent more money on pitchers that were awful then any other team in MLB. Not even close.

    Teams could build a competitive starting rotation on what he paid Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey this year.

    Best watch out Sox fans, because Ferrall and Alex Anthopoulos are comin’ at ya with that Blue Jays team!

  11. rundmc81 - Sep 22, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    “It is all Theo’s fault!! Fire him immediately!!” – Tom Ricketts

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