Boston Red Sox: Is Theo Epstein a Genius or a Mad Scientist?

John GrayCorrespondent IMay 17, 2008

I forever appreciate Theo Epstein helping the Red Sox win two World Series titles, but I'm also amazed at some of these daft decisions of the boy genius.


1. Signing J.D. Drew

Did Theo not read the papers or listen to the radio?  Everyone knew J.D. was a stiff, yet Theo thought he knew better. He outbid himself into a horrible contract in too many years and way too many dollars. Plus, Wily Mo Pena was cheap and ready to go.


2. Inability to choose a shortstop

Shortstop is obviously Theo's weakness.  How many shortstops have Red Sox roots? Nomar, Sanchez, Ramirez, Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Orlando Cabrera and Eckstein. The Sox might as well start a shortstop academy.

The Sox overpaid Lugo and Renteria. Lugo in his prime as a leadoff hitter stealing bases was appealing, but signing him to a four-year, $36 million deal after he flopped with the Dodgers was stupid. At least the Brewers only signed Eric Gagne to a one-year, $10 million contract.

Renteria made errors, but he batted .300 and scored 100 runs.  Alex Gonzalez was great for the Sox, but then he was dumped for Lugo. I hope Theo can make a choice and stick to it.  Perhaps he overpaid Lugo so he could not change his mind again, since no one else would want him.


3. Overpaying Jason Varitek

Four years and $40 million (when there were no other bidders) is too much money for an aging catcher with an average bat. He brought two rings, but Epstein should not be held hostage by him. He could have had A.J. Pierzynski for $2.5 million, like the White Sox did.


4. Not trading unproven rookies for proven talent

Epstein did not trade Hanson and Delcarmen for Roy Oswalt.  I understand not acquiring Santana due to shoulder concerns, but more because of his contract demands.  Occasionally, the prospect turns out (a la Bagwell) but usually he doesn't.  It's best to trade for the proven talent if it is reasonably priced.


5. Should have kept Wily Mo as an insurance policy 

What was the point of trading him, especially late last season?  Turns out Manny went down for a month immediately after, and Wily Mo hit eight home runs in September for the Nationals.  I would have rather have had Wily Mo than Bobby Kielty.

Especially if Ortiz or Manny get hurts again, Wily Mo would be a nice backup. It's too bad Wily Mo was never able to develop in the minor leagues. He reminds me of Bo Jackson.  I love to watch his home runs.


6. Paying $100 million for Daisuke Matsuzaka

That was a little too steep and risky, and I'm surprised John Henry did not balk at this.  They might as well have signed Santana instead.


7. The Jeff Suppan Chronicles

Groom him, dump him, trade a top prospect (and future batting champ) to retrieve him, dump him again, watch him play in two World Series for the Cards. 


8. Could have signed A-Rod

It's always best to keep such talents away from your archrival.  Imagine the Yankees with Lowell instead of A-Rod to save their lineup. Imagine Ortiz, Manny and A-Rod in the lineup, even if for one year as Manny's contract expires. 

We could have had A-Rod instead of Lugo and JD Drew, since the money would not have been available for Theo to waste so foolishly.  Thankfully, its worked out by passing on him twice, but it was very risky.

Those are my thoughts.  I'm forever grateful for the rings, but Theo doesn't strike gold every time.