The final word on Theo Epstein’s departure from Boston

The title maybe should read “My final word on Theo Epstein’s departure from Boston” but nonetheless…

Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox were like a match made in heaven.  A decade ago Epstein was an up-and-coming baseball operations executive for the San Diego Padres.  When Team President Larry Lucchino joined the Red Sox in 2002 as their team president Epstein jumped at the opportunity to follow his former boss back home.  When A’s General Manager Billy Beane stood the Red Sox up at the alter (Beane had a verbal agreement to become GM of the Red Sox but pulled out at the last minute citing “family reasons”) Theo was ready to take up the mantle for the Red Sox organization and tackle a 86 year Championship drought.

Theo made Red Sox Nation quickly forget about the Beane drama.  As a matter of fact, I had totally forgotten about it myself until the Moneyball hype of the summer brought it back up.  I won’t bring up the resume as it’s been re-hashed over and over again.  Two World Championships, 6 playoff appearances, a division title along with Lackey, Lugo and Renteria.  And after the biggest embarrassment of his tenure, a show more out of the Duquette regime than the Theo one, he is walking away from his dream job.  Naturally many people are wondering why?

Now obviously many lazy mediots and fans will simply blame Lucchino and/or the Red Sox troika of beer-swilling pitchers but I think it’s really much more than that.  New Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts had Theo Epstein in his cross-hairs aas far back as August when Buster Olney reported it, and it was likely much longer than that.  You can see why the Cubs job could be attractive to someone like Theo.  Regardless of where he is from he will never be “the guy” with the Red Sox.  He has that opportunity in Chicago.  Even when he held the Red Sox hostage for more power after the 2005 season, he still knew he’d never be the guy here.  He can be that guy in Chicago.  He is the President, a position that Lucchino is entrenched in with the Red Sox.  He will pick a manager in Chicago that will be “his guy”, be it Ryne Sandberg or someone else.  As close as Tito and Theo grew during their time together, Francona was never truly considered “Theo’s guy.”

All that being said take a look at the landscape now.  Theo has risen up to a virtual king-maker.  He is the President of one of the most storied franchises in MLB history, after he had turned around one of the other most storied franchises in MLB history.  He will set up perhaps his favorite disciple, Jed Hoyer, for success as General Manager of the Cubs.  Over in San Diego his 1st lieutenant to graduate to GM, Josh Byrnes, will be given the keys to run the Padres along with his former team president in Arizona, Jeff Moorad.  And in Boston, rather than leaving the Red Sox to pick up the pieces with a new baseball ops team, his most tenured subordinate Ben Cherington will be given the big chair and will work with Henry, Werner & Lucchino along with a brand new manager, who will undoubtedly become “Ben’s guy.”

In the end, it remains to be seen if these changes will be good, bad or indifferent for any of the clubs at all.  But it isn’t hard to see that already, before he has made a move as the head man of the Cubs, has elevated his stature among the MLB hierarchy ten-fold.  Would he have done that had he simply signed an extension to remain theRed Sox GM?  Certainly not.  At the end of the day Theo Epstein, just like all personnel men, are businessmen.  And that is what this is about, whether it is a sexy story or not.  No beer, video games, pain pills, fried chicken, solo cups, or sideline reporters.  It’s just business.

Twitter @ErikVenskus

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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