|Photo Credit: googlinggod.com|
|Photo Credit: newyork.yankees.mlb.com|
Leading up to the 2004 season, Epstein replaced manager Grady Little with Terry Francona, traded Cassey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and two other minor leaguers for Curt Schilling, signed established closer Keith Foulke, and replaced Walker with Mark Bellhorn. Then at the trade deadline, he got rid of Nomar Garciaparra and brought in Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. Oh yeah, and he traded Henri Stanley to the Dodgers for a speedy outfielder named Dave Roberts. Maybe you've heard of him?
|Photo Credit: boston.com|
The end result of those two years of moves? An end to 86 years of suffering
|Photo Credit: boston.com|
Epstein made some other big moves other the next 7 seasons including the trade for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell from the Marlins - which while helping win the 2007 World Series also cost them Hanley Ramirez, dumping an unhappy Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers and being able to bring back Jason Bay in a multi-team deal in 2008, and this year's Adrian Gonzalez deal. He's also had some really strong drafts. Between 2003 and 2006, the Sox drafted David Murphy, Matt Murton, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Craig Hansen, Jed Lowrie, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daniel Bard and Justin Masterson.
|Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com|
Not every move has worked out though. In 2010 Epstein traded Casey Kotchman for Billy Hall. The year before that he traded David Aardsma to Seattle for Fabian Williamson, and moved Justin Masterson to Cleveland for Victor Martinez. In 2007, a slew of prospects brought in Eric Gagne whose tenure in Boston was an absolute disaster. And as in any organization there were moves that just didn't pan out - or at least haven't panned out yet: Mike Cameron, Carl Crawford, John Lackey, John Smoltz, Kevin Millwood, Bobby Jenks, Dan Wheeler, Julio Lugo, J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida, Brad Penny, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Takashi Saito, Bartolo Colon, Edgar Renteria, Matt Clement... In my opinion Epstein has in recent years gotten away from what made him a great GM in the first place. Instead of looking for undervalued players that would fit into the team concept (Ortiz, Mueller, Millar, Arroyo, Bellhorn, Roberts, Walker, Kapler, Mientkiewicz, Okajima, etc.) he's opted to throw money at players who while extremely talented, haven't really made the team better (Lackey, Renteria, Lugo, Clement, Crawford, etc.) It essentially feels that in the past few years, the Sox have stopped being the team of "idiots" that won the 2004 World Series, and essentially tried to become the Yankees with mixed results.
|Photo Credit: bostondirtdogs.com|
Has Theo lost the magic? I'm going to say no. I think he's still got an eye for talent, but in recent years he just got caught up in the Yankees-Red Sox financial rivalry and started throwing money at big names instead of looking to build a cohesive team. I fully expect him to go back to what worked for him in the past and rebuild the Cubs team the way he did with Boston in 2003.
Speaking of Chicago... Chicago's 2011 season was a disaster. Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano combined for only ten more hits than rookie shortstop Starlin Castro despite outearning him by about $28.5M. Tyler Colvin followed up a 20-homer rookie campaign with a dreadful 31 for 206 season (.150). No Cub hit 30 home runs and they were outscored by over 100 runs on the year. The pitching wasn't horrible, but Carlos Marmol blew 10 saves and posted his worst ERA since his rookie season when he broke into the majors as a starting pitcher. Additionally, the Cubs used 26 starts between Casey Coleman and Doug Davis. The two combined to go 4-16 with a John Lackey-esque 6.30 ERA. And then there was the whole soap opera surrounding star pitcher Carlos Zambrano who walked out on the team in August and didn't return in 2011. Only two Cubs starting pitchers made 25 or more starts (Matt Garza 31 and Ryan Dempster 34) and the Cubs finished 71-91 in 5th place in the NL Central. Oh yeah, and Chicago also led the majors with 134 errors.
|Photo Credit: mycubstoday.com|
So Epstein has his work cut out for him. He's already started surrounding himself with good people though reuniting with former Red Sox front office mate Jed Hoyer - who will take over as the General Manager. But he still needs to figure out what he wants to do with manager Mike Quade, who has a year left on his contract, and identify his coaching staff for 2012. Terry Francona is available, but if the blog's favorite Cubs fan - here's your shout out, Ellen - gets her way it'll be Cubs icon Ryne Sandberg getting the call with little brother Greg (Maddux) following in the foosteps of big brother Mike (Texas's pitching coach) and taking a seat on the Cubs bench as their pitching coach in 2012. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as the World Series concludes and we start moving into what's sure to be a busy offseason. With Epstein involved, you can bet the Cubs are going to be active as they try to right the ship and get back into contention in the NL Central, a division they haven't won since 2008 and win their first playoff game since 2003 and if luck has it, break their own curse making Epstein arguably the most famous executive in baseball history.
|Photo Credit: baseball.about.com|
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