Theo Epstein, the most overrated GM of all time
Opening Day 2012 is steadily approaching, but for the Boston Red Sox, there are a few major changes following their historic September collapse from 2011.
Two-time World Series winning manager Terry Francona was not brought back for a ninth season, and note that Theo Epstein is no longer the General Manager. He was essentially “traded” to the Chicago Cubs to become their President of Baseball Operations, while the Red Sox stayed in-house finding their replacement in Epstein’s former right-hand man, Ben Cherington.
I have no reservations in saying that Theo Epstein is the most overrated GM of all-time, having coasted his entire career off of a reputation that he built in 2003 and 2004. He was the head honcho during the Red Sox magical World Series run in ’04, and he made some brilliant moves along the way. Most notably, he axed fan favorite Nomar Garciaparra and sent him to the Cubs in a four-team trade that landed them Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, both of whom proved instrumental in ending their 86-year title drought. He also acquired the likes of Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, Bill Mueller and Curt Schilling all within that 2-year window. It’s possible to surmise that without each and every one of those players, the Curse of the Bambino may still live on in all its infamy to this day.
Since that ‘04 title run, Epstein has been looked at as a man among boys to Sox fans. He was a key cog in helping finally garner that elusive championship. However, he has not kept to that standard. In fact, he’s made some of the worst moves of any GM over the last seven years. Don’t believe me? Here’s a few guys he’s picked up and what it cost to get them: John Lackey ($82.5 mill), Carl Crawford ($142 mill), Mike Cameron ($15.5 mill), John Smoltz ($5.5 mill), JD Drew ($70 mill), Edgar Renteria ($40 mill), Daisuke Matsuzaka ($103 mill, including bid price), Matt Clement ($25 mill), Julio Lugo ($36 mill) and Bobby Jenks ($12 mill). That doesn’t even include the players he acquired via trade that did nothing for his team: Wily Mo Pena (cost: Bronson Arroyo), Eric Gagne (David Murphy) and Ramon Ramirez (Coco Crisp).
Every single GM makes numerous regrettable and stupid decisions. Only Theo has made these monumental mistakes that cost his team millions, along with quality minor leaguers. It was baffling to watch the Cubs pursue him as if he is going to be their savior, and it’s all because of those two years, which did eventually culminate in two world championships. The fact of the matter is, Epstein had a few good years at an extraordinarily young age, and since then, he’s been looked at as something he is not. He had to do something right to earn that reputation, I’ll concede to that, but he had to maintain that brilliance to keep that reputation. Now maybe Theo will make me eat my words, and he’ll turn around the lowly Cubs into a perennial title contender, but I doubt it.
Tyler Galicia can be reached for comment at email@example.com.