It’s pretty fitting that it turned out this way, isn’t it?
The Red Sox became the first team ever to-blow a nine-game lead in September, and given how badly they choked this fall, it’s only appropriate that a team with not even half the payroll—the Tampa Bay Rays—is playoff-bound, while Boston is left sulking in the dugout, pointing fingers.
But they should only wag those digits at one person: Theo Epstein. Yes, I understand that in this epic collapse, nearly everyone is to blame. The problem is you can’t eliminate everybody; one or two figures must serve as the scapegoat.
Yes, many of the players are to blame for Boston’s pathetic collapse. For instance, Josh Beckett and John Lester simply aren’t as good as advertised, but just how many of these underachieving players can you get rid of? Who’s going to want John Lackey and Carl Crawford and their unmovable contracts?
With that said, maybe you can fire manager Terry Francona. But is this collapse really his fault? People have criticized Francona for his lax managerial style, but where were these critics when the Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS?
If you can’t eliminate the players or the manager, then the hot seat belongs to GM Theo Epstein—and rightfully so. For starters, his track record with free agents is god-awful.
Lackey and Crawford, Edgar Renteria, Julio Lugo, JD Drew, Bobby Jenks—that’s just off the top of my head. And what about this week’s revelation from Sports Illustrated that Epstein—a Yale graduate, mind you—never makes a significant move without consulting his trusty computer, Carmine?
Of course those who defend Epstein will point out that he was in command when the Sox won it all both in 2004 and 2007. That’s fine and dandy, but what have you done for me lately?
Those championships don't matter much for 2011, especially when Boston is a city more obsessed with “winning!” than Charlie Sheen. Additionally, Epstein apologists will point out his draft history, which is decent.
Decent in the sense that, Lester, Clay Buchholz and Jonathan Papelbon are decent pitchers, nothing more; and decent in the sense that guys like Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis—overvalued for their OBP—are decent punch-and-Judy hitters.
Maybe the most damning evidence against Epstein is that he assembled merely a decent roster in the offseason—despite having a payroll of roughly $180 million to play with.
For that alone, it’s time for him to go as Red Sox GM.