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Is Epstein Cubs' savior or snake-oil salesman?

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09:58 AM ET 06.16 | Will Middlebrooks is just the latest poster child for what Theo Epstein can do with a few scouting visits, a laptop and a fifth-round draft pick. But with the Red Sox in town to face the Cubs, it's not all a "Best of Theo" mix tape. Then there's the stain of the Red Sox' great collapse of 2011, and it's not rubbing out with club soda anytime soon. The Red Sox were on pace to win 100 games and strut into the postseason, but a 7-20 September crippled those chances. That was the state of Boston baseball when Epstein left for the Cubs. It was a mess, and it included ugly contracts held by John Lackey and Carl Crawford. "I take responsibility for the team not getting to where we were supposed to go," Epstein reiterated Friday. "From what I could tell, a lot of the people involved have taken responsibility and have learned from it and moved on." Not without a scar or two. "I remember stuff from 2003," Epstein said. "I sit there and see Aaron Boone coming to the plate sometimes. Anytime you have a chance to advance and do some damage in the postseason or get to the postseason and you don't, that always stays with you. And last September in particular, we not only failed to perform in the standings, but we lost our identity as a team." That's also why there are some who still believe Epstein is more snake-oil salesman than savior, despite winning two World Series with the Red Sox.

Chicago Sun Times

Theo Epstein, Icon SMI Theo Epstein, Icon SMI
June 16, 2012  10:16 AM ET

Is he any relation to Brian Epstein?

June 16, 2012  10:17 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Is he any relation to Brian Epstein?

Think he's closer to Juan Epstein.

And for the record, I vote 'snake-oil salesman'.

June 16, 2012  10:20 AM ET

We're talking about the Cubs. . . who the hell cares?

Comment #4 has been removed
June 16, 2012  10:42 AM ET

I don't know if he is the answer but the real problem is gone Jim Henry.

June 16, 2012  10:54 AM ET

The key to Epstein is keeping him on a budget. That's when he finds a David Ortiz, Bronson Arroyo or Alfredo Aceves in the Free Agent remainder bin. That's when he trades for a key role player guy like Bill Mueller or Mike Aviles. Give him a blank check and he bids against himself for JD Drew, practically subsidizes japanese baseball for Dice K and burdens the team with the aforementioned Lackey and Crawford contracts.

June 16, 2012  11:05 AM ET

All GMs make boneheaded mistakes, especially where there is a margin for error (see Brian Cashman). I, for one, was really glad to see Theo leave the AL East.

June 16, 2012  11:07 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

We're talking about the Cubs. . . who the hell cares?

Then there's that. . .

June 16, 2012  11:12 AM ET

Theo helped build two series champions and has had other teams in there contending. He's had some questionable signings but if the Dice-K's, Drews and Lackeys went to other teams and lit it up these same fans that are complaining now would be complaining that Theo should have done whatever it took to sign them. Free agents signings are a crap shoot, you sign a guy hoping he'll give you what he did in his best years. That is probably more of a rarity than a player giving you decent or below average years.

June 16, 2012  11:22 AM ET

He was quoted in a Globe article and said something that made me believe he wanted to build from the ground up with draft picks, but management and the hunt for the almighty dollar quashed that. I tend to believe him. That said, the Sox are STILL loaded with draft pick prospects, and he listed an entire starting lineup of players they either still have or just traded away (I believe he mentioned Lowrie but the Globe charges for their page so I can't quote it directly.) He built an amazing farm system.

June 16, 2012  11:24 AM ET

Oh, and I vote real "savior" though that's a bit strong.. I would have MUCH preferred to get rid of Lucchino over Epstein.

June 16, 2012  11:24 AM ET

Should of made him take Crawford, Lackey and Dice-K with him to the Cubs

June 16, 2012  11:52 AM ET

Should have made him take Crawford, Lackey, Dice-K, Jenks and Adrian Gonzalez with him.

A GM should not be given a whole lot of credit for World Series wins at the BEGINNING of his tenure, with a team largely assembled by the previous GM. The key transaction for the 2004 win was Curt Schilling and Epstein had nothing to do with that trade. People forget that Epstein was days away from being fired in 2004, when the miracle comeback began.

At the end of his tenure Epstein had assembled a team with the second highest payroll in baseball that finished third two years running. That same team, the only changes being a new manager, is now wallowing in last place.

As are the Cubs.

Epstein was hired by the Ricketts family to get them a $150 million taxpayer hand-out from Epstein's buddy Rahm Emanuel, not win baseball games.

June 16, 2012  11:57 AM ET
QUOTE(#6):

The key to Epstein is keeping him on a budget. That's when he finds a David Ortiz, Bronson Arroyo or Alfredo Aceves in the Free Agent remainder bin. That's when he trades for a key role player guy like Bill Mueller or Mike Aviles. Give him a blank check and he bids against himself for JD Drew, practically subsidizes japanese baseball for Dice K and burdens the team with the aforementioned Lackey and Crawford contracts.

well said

June 16, 2012  12:18 PM ET

The Cubs came after Theo, not the other way around.

June 16, 2012  12:28 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Think he's closer to Juan Epstein.And for the record, I vote 'snake-oil salesman'.

he ain't no snake oil salesman. but your welcome back kotter reference is worth highlighting.

June 16, 2012  12:32 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

Theo helped build two series champions and has had other teams in there contending....

Whoa! Just wanted to say Jon Pertwee was my number one favorite Doctor.

June 16, 2012  12:45 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Is he any relation to Brian Epstein?

Possibly...considering the mountain of bad deals Brian negotiated on their behalf...the best being the "10% of all merchandising sales"....to a guy he met at a cocktail party...when said "guy" handed him a check for $100,000, which represented the 10%, Brian realized he gave away a fortune and started what becamse a common occurence, of questioning his every move by the boys in the band....Theo lost his vision. Plain and simple. Horrible track record in free agency...

June 16, 2012  12:45 PM ET
QUOTE(#17):

Whoa! Just wanted to say Jon Pertwee was my number one favorite Doctor.

I had Tom Baker up there for the longest time and decided I'll put the others up in time.

 
June 16, 2012  12:49 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

The key to Epstein is keeping him on a budget. That's when he finds a David Ortiz, Bronson Arroyo or Alfredo Aceves in the Free Agent remainder bin. That's when he trades for a key role player guy like Bill Mueller or Mike Aviles. Give him a blank check and he bids against himself for JD Drew, practically subsidizes japanese baseball for Dice K and burdens the team with the aforementioned Lackey and Crawford contracts.

Well said....his "cheap" deals were mastery, very "1996-2000" Yankee-like....then he goes out and makes these absolutely horrible deals for Matt Clement, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria, Lackey, DiceK (incredible hype), Crawford, and then re-signs Beckett to an untradeable deal....and eben when they made the deal for Gonzo, there were plenty of folks in this town who thought the money and length of the contract were not a good thing....and that's looking like the biggest albatross in Red Sox history....he's turning out to be a "soft" Wade Boggs....

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