Hey John, "How Ah Yah?"
This CNN Money article (End of November) once again gains relevance. I wonder who will be doing the Thursday morning WEEI segment going forward? This power struggle is far from over.
"Epstein insisted that his much dissected, 14-year relationship with Lucchino was not the problem. Yet moments later, Epstein grimaced when Henry insisted there had been no "trust issue" between Epstein and Lucchino. Was that a telling slip? Epstein won't say--he did not respond to numerous e-mails and phone calls seeking comment. Nevertheless, Henry wasn't surprised when told of Epstein's body language. "There was a trust issue, and after I read through the transcript, I realized I should have just said, 'No comment,'" he concedes. "But I was trying to be very careful about not giving away his reasons. I felt like that's up to Theo.'"
Epstein acted immaturely at times. According to Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economics professor and a well connected sports business expert, Epstein was angered by a Boston Globe column that revealed that it was he rather than Lucchino who reneged on a trade with the Colorado Rockies in July. In the columnist's telling, Lucchino was the hero: "Lucchino took the fall, killing the deal and saving Epstein." Epstein was outraged by the article. During his press conference, he denied that the column affected his decision to resign, but Zimbalist isn't buying it: "It's unlikely you would own up to that because it does seem a little bit callow and precipitous."
It's also worth asking whether Epstein had gotten too much credit. According to one baseball insider friendly with Bill James, many of the under-the-radar players Epstein signed--including playoff heroes David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, and Kevin Millar--were players James had recommended. "Epstein is a better than average GM," this person says. "But there is a lot of credit and blame in this business that gets stuck in places where it's not deserved." James declines to discuss his advice other than to say, "From my standpoint, we sink or swim together."
Finally, Epstein benefited from good fortune. For example, superstar designated hitter David Ortiz emerged only because the Sox's first choice, Jeremy Giambi, flamed out, notes Callis, who adds that the team came within a hair of losing the pennant in 2004. Had that happened, it's doubtful Red Sox Nation would be gnashing its teeth over the departure of a GM who led them to two consecutive defeats to the archrival Yankees. "I think it's possible to be very good at a job and overrated at the same time," says Callis. "Theo probably falls into that category."
Only time will tell, but we have a hard time seeing Larry Lucchino accept an erosion of his power.
At this Red Sox junction, we see a lot of dysfunction.
-Red Sox Hot Stove Hub