Epstein says 'Farewell, Red Sox Nation' in op-ed


Epstein says 'Farewell, Red Sox Nation' in op-ed

As it turns out, a full-page ad wasn't enough for Theo Epstein.

Not enough to describe his feelings toward Red Sox Nation and all it meant to him over the years -- from his childhood to now, the time he decides to walk away from his dream job.

Epstein wrote an op-ed piece in Tuesday's Boston Globe, saying everything he couldn't cram into his full-page ad, while trying to sum up a career as Red Sox GM that nobody will ever forget.

From the highs to the lows, Epstein's tenure in the Sox front office will forever be the measuring stick for all other Red Sox GMs.

Epstein begins by reflecting on the early stages of his life, when working for the Red Sox was nothing more than a dream of a young boy growing up in Brookline, MA. How he and his brother lived and died with every pitch, and how that 12-year-boy he once was deserves an explanation for why he's leaving -- as well as the fans.

"For the last decade, I gave everything I had to the Red Sox and received even more in return," Epstein wrote in the Globe. "I grew enormously as a person, had some successes, and made a lot of mistakes, too. I still love the organization, enjoy close relationships with owners John Henry and Tom Werner - as well as a complicated but ultimately productive and rewarding relationship with Larry Lucchino - and count many of my co-workers among my dearest friends. The reason I am leaving has nothing to do with power, pressure, money, or relationships. It has nothing to do with September, either.

"Football legend Bill Walsh used to say that coaches and executives should seek change after 10 years with the same team. The theory is that both the individual and the organization benefit from a change after so much time together. The executive gets rebirth and the energy that comes with a new challenge; the organization gets a fresh perspective, and the chance for true change that comes with new leadership. This idea resonated with me. Although I tried my best to fight it, I couldnt escape the conclusion that both the Red Sox and I would benefit from a change sometime soon."

Epstein goes on to write how, with Walsh's words in his mind, he could prepare his successor, Ben Cherington, for the inevitable -- his departure. He just didn't see it going down the way it did, with the way the season ended.

Epstein knew it was important for a GM and manager to have a strong relationship from the start, and that it would be "less than ideal" for him to take part in the search for Terry Francona's replacement when he would be leaving the organization in a year, when his contract ran out.

"What a privilege it has been to be a part of the Red Sox these last 10 years," Epstein wrote. "The first title in 2004, born from the heartbreak of Aaron Boone, was unforgettable: The Steal, Papi, the Bloody Sock, the Greatest Comeback Ever, the end of The Curse. The second, 2007, was equally rewarding as it solidified the franchises rise and marked the emergence of a core drafted, developed, and trained in the 'Red Sox Way' so many had worked so hard to establish."

Epstein also wrote about how proud he was for what the Red Sox now stand for.

"Pride in the uniform," Epstein wrote. "Appreciation of our history. Controlling the strike zone. Grinding at-bats. Having each others backs. Rising to the moment. Never backing down. Connection to the fans. Hard work. Playing with passion and urgency."

But Epstein couldn't leave without one more reference to the collapse, and the aftermath that came with it.

"Yes, September was a collective failure. As the general manager, I am the person ultimately responsible. Things did indeed happen in the clubhouse that do not have a place at the Red Sox or anywhere in sports. But the reports about team-wide apathy and indulgence are exaggerated."

Yes Epstein is now gone, but he writes that he leaves Red Sox Nation in good hands with Cherington as GM.

"Ben is infinitely more prepared than I was when I took over nine years ago," Epstein wrote. "Hes been an area scout, an international scout, an advance scout, a farm director, and hes supervised drafts. Ben is honest and insightful, fearless and friendly - and he is ready to lead this organization forward."

Epstein wraps up the op-ed with words of encouragement, hope, and good will towards the Red Sox organization, saying that although he won't be there, "the 12-year-old in me will be rooting for the Red Sox (except, of course, when they play the Cubs in June)."

"Thank you for all the incredible support this last decade," Epstein wrote. "I will never forget it. May we meet again in an October not too many years from now."

Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona


Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona

The Red Sox lost another key member of their front office Monday, when vice-president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye followed former general manager Mike Hazen to Arizona.

Sawdaye will be the Diamondbacks' assistant GM. As stated by Rotoworld, he had been instrumental in building up the Red Sox' young big league talent and farm system.

The Boston Globe reported today that the Red Sox may not fill the GM vacancy created when Hazen left, instead using "other staffers to take on Hazen’s administrative duties". President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski handles many of the duties traditionally associated with the general manager's position, leaving the actual GM's job in Boston as "essentially an assistant [position] with a lofty title but little power".

The Red Sox have also lost two other front-office members this offseason: Senior baseball analyst Tom Tippett, who had been with the organization for eight years, and director of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek, who had been with the Sox for five years.

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

Sometime over the next 10 or so days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the 2016 World Series.

Naturally, that will mean one of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises will end their championship drought. Either the Cubs will win their first title since 1908, or the Indians will win for the first time since 1948.

That alone should make for an epic World Series.

But there's another bit of history at stake, too - one of legacies.

In addition to the great discomfort felt by Red Sox ownership -- which fired the manager of one participating team and was seemingly happy to hold the door open for the exit of an executive now running the other - it will also almost certainly result, eventually, in either Terry Francona or Theo Epstein being enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Epstein would go down as the architect who helped two star-crossed franchises win titles - the Red Sox in 2004, and the Cubs this fall.

The Red Sox went 86 years between championships; the Cubs would be ending a run of futility that stretched across 108 seasons.

That would provide Epstein with an unmatched resume when it comes to degree of difficulty. It's one thing to win it all; it's another altogether to do so with the Sox and Cubs, two clubs, until Epstein's arrival, linked in ignominy.

Epstein could become only the fourth GM in modern history win a World Series in both leagues. Frank Cashen (Orioles and Mets); John Schuerholz (Royals and Braves) and Pat Gillick (Blue Jays and Phillies).

He would also join a short list of executives who have won three rings, a list that includes contemporaries Brian Cashman and Brian Sabean.

Of course, Epstein can't claim to have constructed the entire Cubs roster, no more than he could have done when the Red Sox won in '04.

In Boston, Epstein inherited key players such as Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Similarly, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras pre-date Epstein's arrival on the North Side.

But Epstein is responsible for nearly the remainder of the roster, and hiring manager Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and most of the Baseball Operations staff, including GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod.

Francona's influence on the Indians is just as obvious.

Hired in late 2012 after spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, he inherited a team which had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In the five previous years before Francona's hiring, the Indians averaged just over 72 wins per season.

Since his arrival, the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, with two playoff appearances, while averaging 88 wins per season.

It hasn't seemed to matter to the Indians that they've been without two of their three best starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) this postseason or arguably, their best offensive player for all but 11 games this season (Michael Brantley).

The Indians don't make excuses for injuries, or bemoan their modest payroll. Under Francona, they just win.

This postseason, he's made up for the absences in the rotation by masterfully utilizing reliever Andrew Miller anywhere from the fifth to the ninth inning.

A third World Series would put Francona in similarly rare company. Only 10 managers have won three or more World Series and just six have done so since World War 2 - Walter Alston, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy Sparky Anderson and Casey Stengel.

The individual accomplishments of Epstein and Francona won't take center stage this week and next -- that attention will, rightly, go to their respective beleaguered franchises.

But the subtext shouldn't be overlooked. Once the partying and the parades come to an end, a path to Cooperstown for either the winning manager or winning president of baseball operations can be cleared.