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Two World Series rings outweighs Theo Epstein’s betrayal

Oct 12, 2011, 1:44 AM EDT

Theo Epstein AP

Make no mistake: Theo Epstein should not be leaving the Red Sox like this. Not after one of the biggest September collapses in baseball history. Not one year after handing out $142 million for Carl Crawford and two years after giving John Lackey $82.5 million.

If Theo Epstein wanted to leave the Red Sox, he should have left them in better position than this.

It’s one thing to want a new challenge, but Epstein already had a challenge in front of him and he’s simply bailing on it.

And this isn’t like his leaving in 2005. That Theo appeared confused and uncertain of what he really wanted to do next. This Theo is picking a very similar Cubs job over the Boston job. It’s going to be much more difficult for Red Sox fans to accept.

Of course, it’s all forgivable against the two World Series victories. Helped by an ample payroll, Epstein put together playoff-caliber teams in all nine of his seasons as Red Sox GM. The only year the Red Sox were out of the race coming down the stretch was 2006, when the club was devastated by injuries.

But his exit after such a disappointing finish in 2011 leaves a sour taste. And with as many tough choices as the team is facing this winter — particularly when it comes to free agents David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon — Epstein may well be leaving the club in a worse position than the one he inherited nine years ago.

  1. scareduck - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:51 AM

    I get that.

    What I wonder is, why does Pat Gillick seem to get a lifetime pass for his transgressions? It seems like he always leaves on what is an identifiable “almost” season for whatever team, and then they collapse, predictably, thereafter.

    • thekcubrats - Oct 12, 2011 at 7:09 AM

      Sorry kids, but you don’t know (we all don’t know) what’s behind all this. Was Crawfish Theo’s idea? Was Lackey? The Botox owner isn’t exactly hands off, and it seems easy to forget the clashes between them, Theo and the plutocrat, that went down before. Theo left before, remember? (Isn’t it your job to remember for us?) Perhaps it’s not the same job he’s getting at all. So save your lamentations and recriminations for the Nation. We deserve better.

  2. thehypercritic - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:54 AM

    How drunk

    • cur68 - Oct 12, 2011 at 3:06 AM

      very. very, very, very, that’s how.

  3. thehypercritic - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:59 AM

    How drunk do you have to be to call a grown man opting to take a new job “a betrayal”?

    Employees in professional sports are mercenaries whose employers treat them as such. Like any job, there are tradeoffs — massive salary and coveted, fun position for unrealistic expectations and a public/ownership who will likely be irrational in their evaluation of your performance.

    To pretend it’s okay to make moral judgements in either direction about a man’s decisions in his livelihood is moronic and anyone who engages in such nonsense should be treated with the scorn their actions invite.

    • hconnor2001 - Oct 12, 2011 at 4:03 AM

      And that would be presupposing that you even remotely agreed with the proposition that he leaves with the team in some kind of undesirable state.

    • Ari Collins - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:12 AM

      Agreed. This is one of the few times I feel the HBT writers are making the mistakes of the mainstream media.

      High-minded moral judgements? Where are the baseless steroid accusations, the grit-and-hustle articles about white people, and the pieces that ignore a player’s career and focus on a tiny sample size in order to create a narrative the writer has always felt is true?

      If you’re going to Murray Chass us, just go all the way, you know?

      • thekcubrats - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:40 AM

        Exactly.

  4. qcubed3 - Oct 12, 2011 at 4:16 AM

    Handing out massive contracts to massively under-performing players . . . are we sure he’s not already the cubs GM?

  5. deep64blue - Oct 12, 2011 at 4:19 AM

    Yeah this is probably the most ridiculous article that has ever been written on this site.

    He’s been there a long time and is being offered a new challenge with greater responsibilities. The Red Sox could have refused permission for him to talk to the Cubs but they didn’t which tells it’s own story.

  6. dl3mk3 - Oct 12, 2011 at 6:20 AM

    Unfortunately i have to agree, this is a terrible article. It feels like some of the amatuer posts i see in the basketballtalk section.

  7. xpensivewinos - Oct 12, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    Epstein is not moving laterally. It would appear as though the Cubs are offering greater power and responsibilities. He’s entitled to find a better job. Calling it a “betrayal” is infantile. Just the other day Red Sox ownership said flat out that Theo Epstein would not be the Red Sox GM forever. They haven’t extended his contract and they didn’t refuse the Cubs permission to speak with him. How is this outcome the least bit surprisnig and have the Red Sox “betrayed” the guy who built them their two World Series teams? Has Cherington “betrayed” Epstein by now being qualified to move in to his mentor’s seat making him expendable?

    I’m more intrigued that the Cubs are tripping all over themselves to get a guy who essentially had an unlimited payroll and is coming off two staight third place finishes and the biggest choke job in baseball history. The cherry on top will be when Theo hires Francona to be the manager.

    Maybe he can trade Soriano for Lackey……..

  8. pastabelly - Oct 12, 2011 at 7:25 AM

    It’s time for him to go. He created a mess and it might make more sense if someone new cleaned it up.

    • Old Gator - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:00 AM

      Yeah, like maybe Mickey Mouse, a broom and a bucket and a book of magic spells.

  9. Tim's Neighbor - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:10 AM

    This really is the the worst thing I’ve ever seen written on HBT. Normally I wouldn’t say anything, but I really don’t want to see this site turn towards ‘woe-is-me’ East coast style journalism. Pretty self-loathing and whiny. It’s almost like one of the Phillies trolls was allowed to write.

    • kopy - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:42 AM

      This.

  10. paperlions - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:13 AM

    The challenge for Epstein if he stays in Boston would be to do little, let the players get healthy, and then see if they perform like everyone thought they would when they were signed.

    The Red Sox are nothing approaching a mess, to say so is to divorce yourself from reality to play knee-jerk reactionary…..if you didn’t think the Red Sox Roster was a mess in August, then you shouldn’t think it now…because it is not.

    The Red Sox organization is not a dictatorship at any level, all decisions are made after getting many opinions and coming to a consensus decision….there are a LOT of people heavily involved in the decision making process, which is one reason the RS won’t be to bothered if Theo leaves….they know he’s just one part of the process.

  11. Jonny 5 - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:23 AM

    Ownership caused this more than likely. And they are the only people who get a pass it seems. Or a larger pass than any others. Here’s my take on all of this.

    Theo had much less to do with the huge deals made in the off season than anyone will admit. I think when a deal(s) looks that big, there was a message made to the GM from up top to get ________ at any cost. Or Get a ____________ and pick up _____________, Get it done. Don’t think for a second that Theo didn’t have more than one person over him telling him what to get done, and maybe even how to do it. Another thing. I think the upper management was screwing with not only Theo and what he was doing, but also with Francona. How does a guy like Francona lose his team?

    I’m not too sure that the whole “betrayal” angle in regards to Theo is misplaced, but I’m pretty sure it is.

    • Jonny 5 - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:25 AM

      Not saying the huge deals were a failure. A-Gon was good. Crawford shows promise and I think next season he’ll be over his jitters and back to producing.

    • Old Gator - Oct 12, 2011 at 8:48 AM

      If John Henry behaved behind the scenes in Boston the way he did during his mercifully short stint here in Macondo (as the efficient cause behind our affliction with Scrooge McLoria), it’s not difficult to imagine Theo wanting to be someplace else. Henry was not much less of a poseur and liar to the fans in Macondo than Scrooge turned out to be – and he gave up pretty quickly on this community when he encountered third world style resistance to his oligarchic arrogance on getting a stadium built. He wasn’t quite enough of a weasel for this town, or at least not the right kind of weasel – but based on watching him and listening to his bullshit (“I’ll build that stadium myself if I have to”) for a couple of years, it’s not hard to imagine that Theo would get so fed up with him and the kind of environment that would form around him that he’d opt to take on someone else’s curse instead.

      • thekcubrats - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        Why is it up to us to feed Matt the history? This isn’t some citizen committee’s blogbath (that’s our job, unpaid, down here in the comments), it’s supposed to be professionally informed opinion and a source of insights we can’t pull out of our own [hats]. Wish this wasn’t the first time…

      • Jonny 5 - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        Who’s going “unpaid” to comment here? lol!!!

  12. aceshigh11 - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    Eh, good luck to him. I’m kinda happy they’re cleaning house…I just wish it could be done on the roster side (Lackey, for starters).

    The Sox have the clout and the money to find someone who can sort this mess out.

    What, you don’t think they’ll attract top-of-the-line talent with a marquee team name and billions of dollars? C’mon, get serious, Matt…

  13. cintiphil - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    I don’t understand or agree with the term “betrayal. The team and the fans didn’t like what he did this season, and they were angry with him. So, he just went West. He went for another job, in order to improve himself and the Cubs at the same time. That is not betrayal.

  14. tacklemeelmo - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Blame Theo?

  15. bobinnh85 - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:07 PM

    Buck Schowalter has to be enjoying this soap opera.

  16. marshmallowsnake - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    What betrayal? Yeah, the rings are great, and I thank him for it…but when you look at it…he has had a whole lot of misses since 2007. I think it is time to go in a different direction.

  17. lostsok - Oct 13, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    Betrayal? This team throws anyone and everyone under the bus the moment anything isn’t perfect. The Boston fan base is the most spoiled and self-entitled of any in pro sports, NY included. Two rings? Not enough! Someone has to be to “blame” for the “collapse.”

    Whatever.

    I don’t blame Epstein for leaving that nightmare AT ALL. The Cubs lose 100 and the fans still love and support you. Boston wins 100 and all fans do is ask…is that more than the Yankees? I

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