Tag:Theo Epstein
Posted on: October 5, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 4:26 pm

Francona: Departure 'kind of mutual'


By Evan Brunell

Both Peter Gammons and Terry Francona appeared on WEEI. One guess what they talked about.

"I think it was very difficult on Terry," Gammons said, speaking about Boston's skid in September that left them out of the postseason. "Did it get out of control to some degree? Yeah I guess so. I think he has been portrayed too much as this guy who was cowering in a corner. ... He had been really beaten up. We've talked about it here, we've kidded about it, the tenures of managers in Boston should be judged in dog years. So at the end of 56 years of managing the Red Sox, he needed to move on."

Francona out in Boston

A lot of discussion has centered around whether Francona was fired or not, and Gammons believes that if he had not walked away, the organization would have let Francona go.

"I had a strong implication that ownership was not going to pick up the option no matter what," Gammons said. "Now, when Theo on Thursday talked to Terry and said, 'OK, we want to go in and make your case on how we move forward.' At that point, I think Terry was convinced no matter what he did or said, they weren't going to pick up the option. And I don't think Terry Francona's the type of person who is going to go in and beg for anything, and he shouldn't have to, not with his history."

It's clear that the Red Sox wanted changes, and at least publicly said they were willing to entertain Francona returning with several tweaks as to the way he did his job. But Francona's a successful manager who has a reputation, and an established way of doing business. He wasn't about to change for a skeptical ownership, so you can understand why he chose to walk away and save some face. But you can tell it wasn't entirely Tito's idea, as he mentioned when he took to the airwaves himself to discuss his departure.

"It was kind of mutual, and that's what we said," Francona said. "Even if we did win, there were things that were bothering me... It was more of an attitude toward our team that distressed me." He added that he did not know if he would have accepted a return to Boston even if he was invited back. "Regardless of how ownership feels... I had a responsibility to get something done, and I didn't get it done, and I need to wear that," he said.

From the Twitter feed of the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson, here is a breakdown of Francona's comments:
  • "I've tried to gain some perspective. That's not the easiest thing to do."
  • On relationship with [GM Theo] Epstein: "There were days he wanted to wring my neck. I don't blame him."
  • On player leadership: "As the season progresses, teams take on a personality and an identity, and we didn't seem to be doing that."
  • On having beer in the clubhouse: "What happens in the clubhouse during the game, I wouldn't see. ... I'm not so naive to think somebody wouldn't have a beer. ... I don't know a lot about it. I don't think it's the end of the world.  ... They're men, and they deserve to be treated like it."
  • On pitching coach Curt Young, whom Red Sox Nation is calling for as a scapegoat: "This guy was as steady as you're going to find. ... If you can't listen to him, you've got a problem."
  • On FOX gig, where Francona will broadcast Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS: "I've only broadcast one other game in my life ... and I sucked. This is going to be interesting."
  • On putting Aceves in the rotation: "I don't think we could have afforded to do that, or I would have done it."
  • "The great teams, the players police themselves -- not exclusively, but ... when something's getting messy, they clean it up."
  • On talk about pitchers' conditioning: "That might be getting a little bit of a life of its own."
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Posted on: October 5, 2011 4:19 pm
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Posted on: October 4, 2011 10:23 pm

Red Sox owner Henry takes to Twitter

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Red Sox owner John Henry hasn't answered questions from the media yet, but he took to Twitter on Tuesday to give a couple of vague answers, but did not address the reports the Cubs have asked permission to talk to general manager Theo Epstein.

In his series of tweets, Henry said the Red Sox may begin interviewing potential manager candidates as soon as next week.

Here's what he had to say:

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Posted on: October 4, 2011 6:33 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 7:47 pm

Report: Cubs ask to talk to Epstein

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Epstein rumors

The Cubs have officially asked the Red Sox to speak with general manager Theo Epstein for their open GM position, the Boston Globe reports.

The Red Sox, according to the report, are meeting Tuesday to determine its response. Epstein is under contract for one more year and the Red Sox could refuse the Cubs' request. Or Epstein could stop all of this himself by telling Chicago he's not interested.

During Friday's press conference announcing Terry Francona's departure from the team, Red Sox officials declined comment when asked if they'd consider giving permission to the Cubs to speak to Epstein.

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 11:14 am

Report: Epstein '50-50' on leaving Red Sox

Theo EpsteinBy C. Trent Rosecrans

A source tells ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes that it's "50-50" that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein will leave Boston "for the right situation." Could that open the door for Epstein to take over the GM-less Chicago Cubs?

The opportunity to break the sport's two greatest curses would put Epstein in a category of famous front-office members that currently stands at one, and that's Branch Rickey. Not even Billy Beane and Brad Pitt would be able to top Epstein's accomplishment in baseball lore if he added a goat to his wall of skins along with the Babe. The only question would be if Ben Affleck would feel too jilted by Epstein leaving Boston to play the movie version of Epstein.

During Friday night's press conference announcing Terry Francona's departure, CEO Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner dodged a question about Epstein's future and the team's GM didn't offer any insight, either.

Lucchino did note that Epstein is still under contract, which goes for one more year.

Edes noted, however, that owner John Henry feels some loyalty toward his general manager and would "not stand in the way" if Epstein wanted to go elsewhere.

But the Cubs may not be the only suitor if Epstein wants to leave Boston. The Angels also have an opening for a general manager. Michael Silverman of the Boston Herlad writes that "sources familiar with Angels owner Arte Moreno's thinking" are split about whether Moreno would want Epstein. Epstein may be fond of jackets and sweaters, but the ability to not need one in Southern California could appeal to him, as much as the challenge of ending the Cubs' title droughts.

Either way, before the general managers start chasing free agents, there will be a chase for general managers, with Epstein this year's version of Cliff Lee.

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Posted on: October 1, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 3:44 pm

Report: Epstein might be headed to Cubs

By Matt Snyder

After an epic collapse cost the Red Sox the playoffs, manager Terry Francona is out the door. Is it possible general manager Theo Epstein follows? Speculation and reports have mostly pointed to Epstein being highly coveted by Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, but that Epstein would still likely stay in Boston.

Of course, it's possible things have changed after the historic futility in September. Maybe Epstein would be open to a change of scenery, much like Francona. He does have one year left on his contract, so he'd need permission from the ownership to interview with anyone. And, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Epstein is going to get that:

"I am shocked," Sherman tweets. "But in last 36 hrs every exec talk to says believe #Redsox will give permssion and Theo will go to #Cubs to be GM."

So, to those who don't understand Twitter speak, the basic summary is that Sherman has heard the Red Sox will allow Epstein to talk to the Cubs, and that Epstein is going to be the Cubs next GM. Not that he will simply listen to an offer, but that Epstein will take an offer and go to Chicago.

Drama in Red Sox Nation
Now, even if Sherman is correct, this isn't a done deal yet. Epstein would still have to interview with the Cubs and both sides would have to leave the interview impressed. From there a contract would have to be agreed upon.

Considering the resources and history, the job would be similar to what Epstein took over in 2002 with the Red Sox in many ways, with two glaring exceptions. First of all, those Red Sox were a lot closer to winning a championship than the current Cubs are. On the other hand, Epstein had to deal with the big-spending Yankees in the AL East. In the NL Central, a good Cubs team has the ability to dwarf the rest of the division in the payroll department.

Would Epstein's ties to the Boston area -- he grew up in New England and attended Yale University -- be trumped by him seeking a new challenge or departure from the exceedingly high expectations in Boston now? Time will tell, but this is certainly a situation worth monitoring.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 8:39 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 8:40 pm

Cashman, Yankees emulated Red Sox

Epstein, Cashman

By Evan Brunell

Hidden in a fantastic piece about the impact of Moneyball on baseball by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, with reverberations felt today, is an admission by Yankees GM Brian Cashman that he tried to emulate what the Red Sox had done to turn them into one of baseball's powerhouses on the backing of unexpected contributions and strong pitching. And yet, while Cashman has largely succeeded, it would appear that Epstein has regressed.

“[The Red Sox] were having a great deal of success with players of lesser ability,” Cashman said. “I studied what they were doing to some degree, adjusted accordingly, brought the Yankees up to speed, brought us into the 21st century.”

The Red Sox's transformation began when John Henry bought the club in December 2001 and encouraged increased emphasis on objective analysis. That coincided with the wooing of Moneyball darling Billy Beane, the A's GM, who was at one point on track to become Boston's new general manager before abruptly puling out, clearing the way for Theo Epstein to take over. 

“When I got to the Red Sox, our roster at the time had plenty of star power, but the second half of our roster was not strong," Epstein said. So, he set out looking for undervalued assets using a process he cut his teeth on in San Diego. The Padres were and are a small-market team, which added emphasis to seeking out low-cost players who could return their value and more.

“I spent the vast majority of time focused on players who were undervalued for some reason or another, trying to build value through small acquisitions, through looking at players through a slightly different lens than the marketplace," Epstein said.

That led to a host of players entering Boston that became instrumental in its 2004 World Series victory. Most notably, first baseman Kevin Millar, third baseman Bill Mueller and designated hitter David Ortiz were brought in. Millar would provide a steady presence at first, Mueller won the batting title in 2003 and Ortiz went on to be a Boston legend.

It's no wonder then, that Cashman sat up and paid attention after years of the Yankees throwing gobs of money at free agents to come to town and fail. He hasn't stopped extending major dollars, but has also found success acquiring undervalued players such as Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Boone Logan and more.

But Cashman wasn't done trying to figure out what made the Red Sox so great. He hired former Red Sox pitching coach (and interim manager in 2001) Joe Kerrigan to peer into how the Red Sox approached their pitching. Kerrigan was let go when Henry came aboard, but still had a deep knowledge of the organization.

“How they approached their pitching program was of interest to me,” Cashman says. “I was throwing out much more (pitching) talent than the Red Sox had and they were having more success. It goes to execution, game plans, stuff like that.”

What's interesting is that while Cashman has put together a strong team, founded partly on principles gleaned from Boston, Epstein has regressed.

No longer is Epstein finding undervalued commodities in the trade or free-agent market. Instead, he's opted for higher-priced veterans that have fallen flat on their face. Carl Crawford, John Lackey, Daisuke Matuszaka, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria (and some would count J.D. Drew)... the list goes on. And many of Epstein's holes have been glossed over by a trade he had nothing to do with, sending top shortstop prospect Hanley Ramirez to Florida for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. (Epstein would later extend Mike Lowell in a contract that also ended up a net loss.)

To be sure, Epstein has made up for it by overseeing bountiful crops of prospects acquired via the draft (and through his own maneuvering of free-agent compensation draft picks). In addition, he's also made several other savvy pickups and acquisitions (Adrian Gonzalez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, to name a couple), but this is still a person who has seen a team turn from underrated achievers with a strong base of pitching into one of overpaid veterans and a pitching staff that has been nothing short of awful for a large part of 2011. While injuries absolutely shoulder part of the blame, at the end of the day this represents a failure for Epstein.

Both Cashman and Epstein are fantastic GMs. To be sure, Cashman scoping out how the Red Sox do business doesn't mean he's a copycat, or that he owes his credit to Boston. It means he's doing his job in exploiting what can work in New York's favor. Epstein, similarly, is still a strong GM despite some missteps in recent years. Yet, it's fascinating to hear about Cashman looking at what made the Red Sox succeed, then making it work for him. And meanwhile, Epstein's luck has run dry as he's received more and more money to play with -- but his investments are no longer working out.

Such is life running a baseball team.

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:12 am

Pepper: Ortiz says it's time to panic

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Wild Cards were all sewn up -- or so we thought.

While it appeared the Braves and Red Sox would cruise to the Wild Card (or the AL East title for Boston), but in the last week, things have gotten interesting. St. Louis swept Atlanta to move just 4.5 games behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay is now just 3.5 games behind the Red Sox as Boston finished a 1-6 road trip, including being swept by the Rays.

Still, there's not a whole lot of baseball left, the two favorites are still favored by mathematicians to hold onto their leads. So it's not time to panic, right?

"Hell yeah, you've got to panic at this point, but you're not going to do anything panicking but playing better," Boston's David Ortiz told reporters (Boston Herald). "Of course you're freaked out, you go on this road trip, 1-6, it's not good. We've got these guys breathing down our next and we're not in first place, either."

Give him credit, Ortiz is always entertaining and this time he's right. The team should worry about the Rays and can't get too worked up about it because panic doesn't help a team play any better. It's an interesting balancing act, playing with urgency, but not panic. Baseball's a tough game that's even tougher when you press.

Cuddyer's homer helped save teammate: Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer hit two game-winning homers in a minor-league playoff series in 2001 to lead his team to a victory in the best-of-five series. If his team had lost the series, teammate Brad Thomas and his wife, Kylie, had already booked a flight home to Australia. The couple would have started its journey on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001. With the win, Thomas and his wife had to stay for the next series.

"He credits me for saving his life," Cuddyer told MLB.com. "I mean, I don't know about that. It was just a twist of fate."

Thomas is currently on the Tigers' 60-day disabled list.

Cuddyer also wrote about the incident on FoxSports North.

Wainwright remembers: We all have our own personal stories about where we were on Sept. 11, 2001 -- I drove from Athens, Ga., to Washington, D.C., the day before to go to see PJ Harvey at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 10, 2001. I still have the ticket stub and a September 12, 2001, Washington Post to share with my kids some day. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was in New York for the Red Sox-Yankees game on Sept. 10, 2001, and then cancelled a morning meeting near the World Trade Center the next day in order to get on the road to Cooperstown with his brother. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Waiting on Theo: Matt touched on this yesterday, but word is Tom Ricketts is willing to wait for his dream GM, Boston's Theo Epstein. While MLB looks down on major offseason announcements before the end of the World Series, those decisions happen all the time and are usually uncovered before the official announcement. However, there is a real wait if one of those interviewed and hired is still working. That could be the case with Boston's Epstein, reportedly Ricketts' top pick. If Epstein is in the least bit interested, Ricketts will wait. [Chicago Tribune]

Beckett to throw: Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett will test his injured right ankle in a bullpen session Monday and could return to the rotation by the end of the week -- welcome news to the Red Sox. [Boston Herald]

Weeks to go slow: Rickie Weeks returned to the Brewers' lineup on Sunday, walking and being hit by a pitch in his only plate appearances and was taken out of the game after four innings. The team plans on taking it slow with him. The Brewers are off on Monday and manager Ron Roenicke said he would try to get Weeks back into the game on Tuesday and maybe increase his innings. Weeks missed six weeks after suffering a severe left ankle sprain. [Appleton Post-Crescent]

Cruz ready to return: The Rangers are in the closest playoff race in baseball, leading the Angels by 2.5 games and they get some good news on Tuesday when Nelson Cruz says he'll be ready to return from the disabled list. Cruz went on the DL on Aug. 30 with a strained left hamstring and ran in the outfield on Saturday. The Rangers don't have any minor-league affiliates still playing, so the team will activate Cruz without a rehab assignment. [MLB.com]

Zimmermann bored sitting out: Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann hasn't pitched in two weeks and won't pitch in the final two weeks of the season. The good news is that next season he won't have an innings limit. With Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals have the building blocks for a very good rotation. [Washington Post]

Prado struggling: An All-Star in 2010, Atlanta's Martin Prado his having a disappointing 2011. The 27-year-old super utility player is hitting .261/.307/.385 this season, well below the .307/.356/.454 line he put up in his first five seasons in the big leagues. The prolonged slump is costing him sleep, Prado told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Romine relishes chance: While Jesus Montero garnered headlines when he was called up, the Yankees have a better catching prospect, Austin Romine. With injuries to Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli, Romine made his big-league debut on Sunday. Romine had thought his season was over after Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre finished its season, but Joe Girardi needed a replacement and got in touch with Romine on Saturday. Girardi hadn't been able to get in touch with the catcher, so he had to go to the Angels' clubhouse to talk to Romine's brother, Andrew, an infielder with the Angles, to get a better number. Austin Romine replaced Montero in the ninth inning, catching Mariano Rivera, who recorded his 599th career save. [MLB.com]

ThunderBolts to White Sox: Just two years ago Dylan Axelrod was pitching for the Windy City ThunderBolts of the independent Frontier League. On Wednesday, he'll be throwing in the Windy City again, but for the White Sox in place of former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy. [Chicago Tribune]

Mo Coco: Reds closer Francisco Cordero is willing to re-negotiate his $12 million option for 2012 and general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that an extension is a "possibility." Cordero, a whipping boy in Cincinnati, has had an outstanding year, recording 32 saves with a 2.30 ERA with five blown saves. Since coming to the Reds in 2008, Cordero has 145 saves and 23 blown saves, converting 86 percent of his chances with a 2.94 ERA. The Reds don't have an obvious candidate to take over in the ninth inning if they decline his $12 million option. He was the team's highest-paid player in 2011 and his $12 million in 2012 would be the tied for the team's highest-paid player along with second baseman Brandon Phillips, who also has a $12 million option for 2012 that the team is expected to pick up.

Eat before you go: We see a report like this just about every year, but it's always a good reminder -- if you want your food handled properly before you eat it, you've got to make sure to do it yourself. [CBS Chicago]

Bourjos takes blame: We all have those people we know or work with that will never admit fault -- there's always some crazy excuse or reason something went wrong, and it's never their fault, it's some extenuating circumstance. The Angels' Peter Bourjos is not that guy. His error doomed the Angels on Sunday, and instead of complaining about the sun or anything, taking full responsibility for the play that killed his team. [Los Angeles Times]

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