Theo Epstein

Growing up in the shadows of Fenway Park in Brookline, Massachusetts, Theo Epstein got the chance all Red Sox fans dream about in 2002 when he became the General Manager.

A Ivy League graduate with a juris doctorate from the University of San Diego while he was with the San Diego Padres. Epstein worked his way up through the ranks from public relations to director of baseball operations to an assistant to the General Manager with the San Diego ball club.

When the Boston Red Sox were bought from John Harrington by John W. Henry and Tom Werner, former Padres President Larry Lucchino brought young Theo back to Boston. In the fall of 2002, he replaced Mike Port as the General Manager, making him the, then, youngest G.M. in baseball.

Throughout the years Epstein has made some good deals, some bad deals and some ugly deals. But still was able to bring the first championship back to Boston for the first time in 86 years as well as making the Red Sox the first team in the 21st Century to win two championships (2004 and 2007).

Epstein made good on his promise to re-vamp the farm system by evaluating and drafting young, amateur players such as Jonathan Papelbon (2003), Dustin Pedroia (2004) and Jacoby Ellsbury (2005). These players have climbed up the ladder of the Red Sox minor league system and produced for the big league club. In this regards, Epstein has been far above average.

But in other aspects of baseball operations, Epstein is below average when it comes to evaluating ready major league talent. Acquiring David Ortiz over the waiver wires from the Minnesota Twins was a steal and good pick up, he deserves a plus for this acquisition but that same year he acquired Kevin Millar, Bill Mueller and Jeremy Giambi. Although Millar was good clubhouse character he was sub-par in the field and Mueller had one outstanding year in 2003 but dropped the following years. And who can forget the Giambi signing? He turned out to be a bust and opened the door for both Millar and Ortiz to get more playing time.

Let’s turn to 2004 after the World Series and the signing of Edgar Renteria to a $11 million a year contract for four years. In 2005, Renteria ended the year with a .276 batting average (15 points below his career average), 172 base hits, only 60 runs batted in, 100 strikeouts and only 55 walks. Not good statistics for your number two hitter. The Red Sox are still paying ($11 million) for that mess after dealing him to Atlanta for a minor league prospect, Andy Marte.

Speaking of Andy Marte, the guy we traded to Cleveland to acquire Coco Crisp. Another player, who like Renteria, was not capable of playing in the Boston market. Most fans of the ball club will tell you to give Crisp a break for his poor 2006 season because of a broken finger but 2007 was all that much better. In 145 games, Crisp hit .268 with 141 hits (28 doubles, seven triples and six homeruns) and 60 runs batted in while recording 50 walks and 84 strikeouts.

I know you are thinking, but what about Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima and Mike Lowell? I will give you Beckett, Schilling and Matsuzaka but Okajima was never supposed to be as good as he was in 2007 and Lowell was a throw in, in the Beckett deal. People thought Lowell was on the back nine of his career and the part of the deal that was stopping a lot of teams from acquiring Beckett. Other teams did not want to take on Lowell’s $9 million salary after 2005. With Okajima and Lowell, Epstein just got extremely lucky. He had no idea they would be as good as they were the past year.

In conclusion, Theo Epstein is a proactive General Manager. He is your typical active-positive. He is bold in his moves by taking on contracts like Lowell and Renteria but unlike the active-negative, Epstein acknowledges when his plans have failed and he moves forward accordingly. Your typical active-positive are not immune to failure but they know how to accept their failures and turn them into successes by not making the same mistake twice. Hence why Epstein is an active-positive. He rarely makes the same mistake twice.

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