Theo Epstein: "Good," but in No Way "Great"

BHLCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 11:  General manager Theo Epstein of the Boston Red Sox sits in the dugout before game two of the American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2008 MLB playoffs at Tropicana Field on October 11, 2008 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Theo Epstein took over as General Manager (GM) of the Boston Red Sox in 2002, and since then, the Red Sox have enjoyed some incredibly successful times. Epstein's tenure includes an impressive two World Series trophies, something which was thought to be near impossible to bring to Boston.

In fact, Epstein ended an 86-year title drought for the Red Sox, and for this, fans are forever grateful.

Epstein has to his name a number of wise transactions, and he and his scouting team have been responsible for revamping what was a relatively weak farm system.

Partially the result of Epstein's title drought-ending tenure, fans have been quick to label Epstein as a "great" GM. The use of "great" would seem to ignore the flaws and the horrendous mistakes that have scarred an otherwise impressive résumé.

What do Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, and Matt Clement have in common? They were each paid lucrative salaries by the Red Sox ownership group's collective wallet while not playing baseball for the Red Sox. Seems strange to compensate someone handsomely to not play for your team, doesn't it?

The list could be extended to include the likes of J.D. Drew and Ramiro Mendoza, among others, but the larger point to examine is how Epstein is able to bury his epic blunders with cash.

The same luxury is not afforded to the average GM in baseball. For the average GM, if you proverbially drop the ball and reward a garbage player with a lucrative contract, then he is yours to keep. Having a few bad seeds on the roster consuming the bulk of a club's money and producing very little is crippling to the organization.

With the high spending power Epstein is afforded, bizarre signings like Julio Lugo are erased from the record. Rather than be forced to look on as Lugo tanks his way through years in Boston, Epstein can simply whisk away his garbage for the trash collector to take away.

Certain signings and trades cannot necessarily be criticized, as everyone makes misjudgments. But to sign a player like Lugo or Drew to an absurdly large contract, when the players either have injury history or just simply do not produce commensurate to their received contract, is pure lunacy.

To reiterate, Epstein's time as GM of the Red Sox has been good, and the Red Sox have won two World Series titles. Epstein has been a "good" GM in Boston—not "great."

Considering the World Series titles, but taking into account blunders such as Lugo and Renteria, Theo's performance as the Red Sox GM must be labeled as "good." Not "great." Good.

If the power of the wallet to effectively erase major and crippling flaws is taken away from Epstein, then you merely have an "OK" performance as GM.