Thursday, June 14, 2012

Theo Regrets Feeding Expectations 'Monster'

Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein engages in a fascinating conversation with's Alex Speier, in which he admits being pressured into "betraying" basic organizational principles—like pursuing free agency only as a last resort and primarily relying on home-grown talent. Then came the signings of John Lackey ($82.2 million, five years) and Carl Crawford ($142 million, seven years). What was the reason for abandoning a core value while throwing a quarter of a billion dollars at two players? In a word: pressure. Pressure from a "monster" of expectations from fans, the media and—maybe most importantly—ownership. What else could he be referring to when he mentions "placating elements that shouldn't have been important"? Theo thinks he failed in his primary mission of keeping the organization focused on his infamous "player development machine" and succumbing to the pressure of winning  now. He sums up his decade-long tenure in Boston with refreshing honesty:

"I think we did a great job drafting, great job developing players, we did a nice job in trades, we did a pretty nice job on buy-low free agents, and then we had a very spotty track record with higher profile free agents."

For all his flaws, Theo was—most of the time—a leavening force on the appetites of the NOG. He was the only home-grown cog in the decision-making wheel. We have lost that now. To our detriment.