Sunday, October 23, 2011

So Theo's gone

Theo Epstein resigned as GM of the Red Sox to become head of baseball operations for the Cubs yesterday, I think.

It's the end of an era in Boston, one that brought two World Series titles, but has perhaps left a few gaping holes in the organization. Can you become complacent as a sports executive in Boston? It is supposedly one of the toughest placest to work in management because the fans, of all sports there, are so rabid.

Both Epstein and Francona seemed to be operating on auto-pilot this last year. With a dismal winless streak to start the season and then the historic collapse, I'm still perplexed at Tito's epic fail with a team most projected to run away with the Series this year.

One of Theo's biggest upside as a GM, to me at least, was his promise to improve and rebuild the Sox's farm system. And yet that has fallen into disrepair as well. I haven't seen anyone coming up who has the potential to be game changers when they hit the bigs. Which one can contrast directly with the low budget Rays, who have a wealth of talent maturing in the minors. With all the money in the Sox organization, how did this happen?

Though the Lackey trade seems to be a loser at this point, I'm not ready to hate on Epstein for the last couple of transactions he made. A-Gon was a great pick up, even if he doesn't have Manny's power numbers. He a solid, reliable bat in the line-up. And someone who loves playing in Boston, and is a great presence in the locker room. The Crawford trade may still prove to be a good one. I don't understand Carl's awful year. I'm going to chalk it up to nerves and playing out of Tampa, and hence his comfort zone, for the first time in his career. Down here, he could easily be the best player on a team where nothing was expected. In Boston, he's expected to play like the star they are paying him to be. That's the most pressure he's ever faced. Hopefully, he'll use this last year as a learning one and become the player I think he still is.

I'm uninspired by the promotion of Ben Cherrington to GM for the Sox. He's been banging around the organization for years. If he was so capable, why wasn't he moved up before? I think he was a player personel guy at one point. If he signed off on the Lackey trade, that's a dinger for me right there. This move has the aroma of a team not having any idea who to put in the job, so they put a familiar face there to maintain continuity. I think a shake up would be more in order since even Theo and Tito said the team needed new voices in charge.

The measuring stick for Cherrington will be who he brings in as head coach. If it's some aged re-tread or unknown who has labored in the minors for decades, this team is in big trouble.

The Sox website is touting unbridled hope for next year, saying the talent is there for an immediate bounce back. I'm not optimistic. I think with all the hyper-attentive press in Boston and some gaping holes in the team -- pitching, power hitting -- the potential is there for another third place or worst finish for the Sox in '12.

I hope not, but as a life-long fan, I won't be jumping ship. But it could be some tough sailing next year.

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