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by vodkaran Tue Apr 05, 2011 7:23 pm
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Theo Epstein is out the door, having chosen not to be a part of next season's 100-year anniversary celebration of Fenway Park, and his Red Sox legacy is suddenly in shambles.
Just about everything the one-time "Boy Wonder" GM had a hand in during his much acclaimed nine-year reign at Yawkey Way, even the 86-year curse-breaking 2004 world championship, has been tarnished -
which begs the question: Why did the Chicago Cubs, before even talking to anyone else, trip all over themselves and empty out the vaults and cash registers in Wrigley Field, to hire this guy to a five-year, reported
$15 million contract as head of their baseball operations?
For sure, the mess Epstein leaves in Boston is monumental, between the onerous, untradeable contracts, an out-of-control "country club" clubhouse of me-first malcontents and an increasingly crazy owner, who
remains obsessed with the sabermetrics system of the young GM.
As successful as Epstein was in the amateur draft with so much of the cheap jerseys Red Sox homegrown nucleus - Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis,
Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Papelbon et al - his forays into the free agent market have mostly turned out to be costly disasters.
His likely successor, assistant GM Ben Cherington, finds himself saddled with $121.75 million through 2017 owed to Carl Crawford, a huge bust in his first year with the Sox. There's another $45.75 million
through 2014 owed to John Lackey, the worst starting pitcher in baseball this year.
In addition, Daisuke Matsuzaka, for whom Epstein paid $103 million in posting fee and salary, will collect another $10.3 million next season in the final year of his contract while he's recovering from Tommy John
In all, Matsuzaka was 49-30 with a 4.25 ERA for that $103 million and had only one ace-like (18-3) nfl jerseys cheap season in which his ERA was under
4.00. On a much lesser scale, Epstein's signing of setup reliever Bobby Jenks to an above-market two-year, $6 million deal last year, despite three successive seasons in which his ERA had gone up almost a run
per game, was similar folly. Jenks appeared in only 19 games, giving up 22 hits in 15-2/3 innings, before going down for the season with a back injury.
And then there was the combined $76 million on shortstop busts Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo along with the five-year, $70 million J.D. Drew contract. In what was a blatant case of tampering (in which charges
were for some reason never filed), Epstein allowed himself to be bamboozled by Drew's agent, Scott Boras, and gave his client a new, even more lucrative five-year deal for opting out of his contract with the
Dodgers. Over the five years in Boston, the notoriously laid-back Drew averaged .264 with 16 homers and 57 RBI and sat out most of last season with assorted injuries.
Besides dealing with a bloated payroll, Cherington will find that his biggest challenge is going to be finding a manager to succeed Terry Francona - that is, a manager who can walk the fine line in restoring respect,
discipline and commitment to winning in the clubhouse while also satisfying owner John cheap jerseys from china Henry's insistence on stats from the team's pet
computer, Carmine, dictating the lineups.
Francona, who has long had the reputation of being a players' "enabler," allowed the clubhouse to get out of hand to the point where, according to a Boston Globe report yesterday, pitchers Josh Beckett, Lester,
Lackey and Buchholz were regularly drinking beer, ordering out fried chicken and playing video games during games instead of lending support to their teammates in the dugout.
And while no one is likely to confirm it, there was wide suspicion that Francona's curious lineups down the September stretch - in one game he had rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway batting fifth (prompting Orioles
manager Buck Showalter to intentionally walk cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez three times), and in another he had the singles-hitting Lowrie batting cleanup - were dictated by Henry through Epstein.
Epstein will not be allowed to bring his closest adviser, Carmine, to Wrigleyville - although he should feel somewhat nhl jerseys cheap at home once he gets
a gander at the $54 million through 2014 on Alfonso Soriano's contract and the $18 million owed Carlos Zambrano next year that he inherits from previous Cubs GM Jim Hendry.
In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how Henry, long Epstein's biggest benefactor, now assesses the chaos in Boston in his former GM's wake. Last week, Henry, who seems more consumed with his new
soccer toy in Liverpool than with his disgraced baseball team, blamed poor conditioning and nutrition as prime factors in the Red Sox's 7-20 September collapse in which, coincidentally, Beckett, Lester and
Lackey were a combined 2-7 with a 6.45 ERA.
One suspects - as was the case when it was revealed that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were among the 103 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003, the year before the Red Sox broke the 86-year
championship curse - Henry and the Red Sox brass will choose to ignore the globs of tarnish all over Epstein's Boston resume, just as Cubs owner Tom Ricketts obviously has.
But it says everything about the ego of Epstein, who chooses to cut and run from his legacy after a season in which the Red Sox were booed off the field in their last game at Fenway Park - rather than try to fix
things. When the Sox return in April for the beginning of the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway, they can count on the booing to resume, although the man who presided over everything that has gone wrong
on Yawkey Way won't be around to hear it.
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