Epstein out in Boston

JMB · October 31, 2005 at 5:46 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

ESPN.com, elsewhere I’m sure.

Unlike DePodesta in LA, this was Epstein’s choice; he turned down a reported three-year, $4.5M deal (reports vary from $3.6 to $4.5M) at the last minute, apparently looking for something closer to the $2.5M per year the Red Sox offered Billy Beane three years ago.

Somehow I can’t see him taking a job in Tampa Bay, Los Angeles or Philly. “Out of baseball for a year” seems the best bet.


39 Responses to “Epstein out in Boston”

  1. Taylor Davis on October 31st, 2005 5:55 pm

    If BB gets fired, maybe we will go after Theo.

  2. Shoeless Jose on October 31st, 2005 6:01 pm

    The only way this makes sense — quitting your dream job at quadruple your former salary — is that he wants to take time off.

    If he does take a year off, and is available next offseason, and if the 2006 M’s don’t show enough of a turn around… they could do worse.

  3. Pilots Fan on October 31st, 2005 6:04 pm

    Wow. I don’t think many people saw this coming.

  4. Oly Rainiers Fan on October 31st, 2005 6:11 pm

    Actually, the stories I’ve read about it so far today sort of point to a feeling by Theo that he was somehow betrayed by (or taken advantage of) by Larry Lucchino. Even the quadrupled salary didn’t match what they offered Beane prior to Theo taking the job, and if that’s an indication, then it boils down to being about respect.

    I applaud Theo for standing up for himself, at the same time I imagine that – at such a young age, and after having already MADE several million dollars AND achieved what has to be a lifetime goal of taking not just any team but the RED SOX to a World Championship – well, it might take him more than a year to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. I mean, geez, talk about peaking early….

  5. firova on October 31st, 2005 6:31 pm

    I’m tring to imagine what it feels like to turn down $4 million. It looks like the Mariners are going to need a new consultant, so maybe Theo’s available.

  6. LB on October 31st, 2005 7:25 pm

    A post on SoSH quotes Sean McAdam (of the Providence Journal) as reporting that the money was $1.5m over 3 years, not $1.5m/year.

    $350l in 03, $450k in 04 and $550k in 05. Big difference.

    I cannot find a link to support this, but there should be no shortage of stories in Boston papers in the morning, probably conflicting ones.

  7. Colm on October 31st, 2005 7:47 pm

    Peaking early? Jeesh. That has to be tough. I mean, how does he top that?

    Me? I prefer being a lifelong disappointment to myself.

  8. Rusty on October 31st, 2005 8:09 pm

    Oops, posted this in the wrong thread earlier…

    I’m normally not a huge devotee to the concept of loyalty in this age of pluralism, but loyalty still seems apropos in certain cases for certain people. Take for instance the Dodgers drafting Piazza in the 24th round, or whenever it was, as a favor to some relative of Piazza’s. Then, as he approached his free agent year he balked at re-signing with the Dodgers. Maybe they were lowballing him on the extension but if ever a hometown discount was warranted, that was it.

    Theo Epstein is another case where I believe loyalty over top dollar was warranted. Henry and the Red Sox gave him the opportunity of a lifetime at 28 years of age. It was unprecedented. I’m not saying he should have remained loyal to the Red Sox at any price for 50 years, but a few more than 3 was probably warranted.

  9. Colm on October 31st, 2005 8:18 pm

    Rusty: The rumors in the press suggest that money wasn’t the issue. He felt that Luchino back-doored him on something, so he walked away from a great deal of money.

  10. ray on October 31st, 2005 8:25 pm

    Well, there was a study not too long ago about employees rating work, and I believe job recognition came out number one — above money and everything else. So, if you really don’t feel needed or appreciated, it hurts the most. But, Ooooh! To be 30, rich, and unemployed — What a life! 😉

  11. Rusty on October 31st, 2005 8:34 pm

    If it wasn’t about money, then I believe Theo should have felt obligated to try to work things out, again, out of loyalty to the employers who gave him the great opportunity to begin with. What could Lucchino or Henry or anyone else have done, short of messing with his wife, that could cause him to be so blind to what he owed the organization.

    Again, I don’t want to make too much of this as I’m not sure I’ve felt so loyal to any org I’ve worked for, but to be GM of the Sox at 28! And then walk away feeling hurt. Can’t say I understand it.

  12. tede on October 31st, 2005 8:39 pm

    Very ironic that it was a column by the Curly Haired Boyfriend (CHB) that started the “Curse of Theo”.

    CHB must have been feeling resentful over the future loss of royalties on his stupid Curse of Bambino books.

    Will all of this be covered in the paperback version of “Mind Games”? Timing is everything.

    Typical Boston media. Goes back to the Boston writer who left Ted Williams off of his MVP ballot after Ted won the Triple Crown in 1947.

  13. LB on October 31st, 2005 8:49 pm

    #1: He owed the organization 3 years of serving as GM in exchange for a negotiated sum.

    Evidently, he tried to work things out with Larry Lucchino as he was negotiating a new contract. There was an article published in yesterday’s Globe in which a very rosy picture was painted of LL (less so of Theo), which can be taken as a sign that LL leaked the story.

    Suppose you were Theo and this had happened to you. Do you want to sign up for three more years of this backbiting when your existing contract was about to expire?

    He did what was asked of him. He built teams that went to the post season three years in a row. They won the World Series in one of those years. In another, they got five defensive outs away, and the field manager let his relief pitchers rot in the bullpen rather than come in and do their jobs. This year injuries killed their chances. He has repaid LL’s loyalty in spades.

  14. LB on October 31st, 2005 9:03 pm

    #13: Uh, should be in response to “#11,” not “#1.”

  15. eponymous coward on October 31st, 2005 9:11 pm

    So, his loyalty should mean he takes a job he apparently doesn’t want to do any more?

  16. DaddyO on October 31st, 2005 10:00 pm

    Loyalty schmoyalty. If Lucchino indeed leaked the story behind the article referred to in the Boston Globe, it was clear that loyalty would not have been a two way street.

    Besides, the Red Sox would not have hesitated to dump Epstein the moment he no longer suited their purposes. Loyalty would not have been a factor.

    It’s even possible that Lucchino knew exactly how Epstein would react to the story and used it as a means of driving him out without appearing to do so.

  17. LB on October 31st, 2005 10:50 pm

    It’s even possible that Lucchino knew exactly how Epstein would react to the story and used it as a means of driving him out without appearing to do so.

    Or that Lucchino was sending Theo a message about the way the world was going to work for the next three years and that he was implicitly accepting that if he signed on the dotted line.

    But I honestly don’t think Lucchino wanted to leave his team without a GM on November 1. That just doesn’t add up.

  18. Adam T on October 31st, 2005 11:33 pm

    “Out of baseball for a year”

    Just in time to make a comeback in Seattle after Bavasi is fired next September.

    Not that I really want this to happen, just commenting.

  19. LB on October 31st, 2005 11:43 pm

    #6: McAdam’s story is up: http://www.projo.com/redsox/content/projo_20051101_01sox.176b3eb9.html.

    What was garbled in SoSH’s account was that the original offer was for $350,000 in 2003, $450,000 in 2004 and $550,000 in 2005. “It was summarily rejected.”

    At the end of the day, Theo did walk away from $4.5m guaranteed. So it wasn’t about the money.

    Epstein went home for the weekend to debate his future, but a column in the Boston Globe on Sunday, in which a columnist alleged that Epstein had been at fault when a deal with the Colorado Rockies last July 31 fell apart and that Lucchino had accepted the public blame to spare Epstein the embarrassment served as a reminder that significant issues remained with Lucchino.

    One Red Sox insider yesterday described what was left of the relationship between Lucchino and Epstein as “a mess.”

    Epstein had been telling friends for weeks that if he didn’t return to the Red Sox, he would likely take a year away from baseball — while consulting to keep his hand in the game — before looking for something full-time next fall.

    George Steinbrenner has got to be the happiest man in baseball tonight.

  20. msb on November 1st, 2005 12:04 am

    take it with a grain of Boston Media salt, but the Herald had a piece last thursday about the FO using the media (particularly the Sox-shareholding Globe) to take down anyone they wanted (coughNomarcough)

  21. LB on November 1st, 2005 12:32 am

    Read the Leigh Montville bio of Ted Williams and tell me that Dan Shaughnessy isn’t channeling the ghost of “The Colonel” Dave Egan.

    Shaughnessy’s next column should be very entertaining, provided he gets a chance to file it before the crowds bearing torches and pitchforks show up at the Globe.

  22. Bodhizefa on November 1st, 2005 3:34 am

    This may be a little off-topic (not much, but I wanted to preface), but what I don’t understand is how a baseball on-field manager can get so much frikkin’ money when he has so little impact on the team itself besides when he takes out a pitcher. The GM, meanwhile, is responsible for the signing of all players (and whining and dining them to do so), organizing and manipulating the roster, and designing the minor league drafting hierarchy. Which one would [I]you[/I] pay more?

    Epstein could likely to get ten times what he got with the Red Sox if he went to Wall Street. Baseball… still a sport that doesn’t understand what the heck is going on with itself in the strangest of places.

  23. Rusty on November 1st, 2005 9:13 am

    So, his loyalty should mean he takes a job he apparently doesn’t want to do any more?

    Seriously? You think he hates being a General Manager of a Major League Baseball team? It’s gotten old for him? He mouths the word that he needs to take a year off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes another job immediately.

    Again, I want to emphasize that I’m not saying “loyalty in all cases”. These days, loyalty is a somewhat quaint idea outside of the Bush administration and the New York Times. And baseball is as ruthless as the next business in cutting, firing, or treating personnel badly. My point is that some people in baseball are given truly unique opportunities that they wouldn’t be given anywhere else in the market. In such cases, a person should consider loyalty to be a factor in making a decision.

    I mean, how bad could the Boston Red Sox GM job for another 3 years at $4.5 million be?

  24. Russ on November 1st, 2005 9:26 am

    I mean, how bad could the Boston Red Sox GM job for another 3 years at $4.5 million be?

    Pretty bad apparently. Baseball in Boston is not just a ball game. The Patriots (biggest name in the NFL last 4 years) is page 3 compared to the Sox.

    Every person in Boston thinks they own the team. Can you imagine trying to have dinner in the city and having every fisherman, crabber and Southie coming by your table to tell you how stupid your last player move was? Stopping by the grocery store and having 20 people want to talk work when you’d just like to take your food and go home? I bet he has zero personal life. In some ways, he is bigger then the players. Instantly recognizable.

    Not to mention Lucchino is a piece of work, as are likely every owner. Think about it, if you own a MLB team, you’ve got dollars. All those guys are dirty in one way or another, very accustomed to having their own way all the time and likely a huge PITA about nearly every issue.

    Loyalty…pffft. It starts from the top, not the other way around. Smart business people know this, good people know this. Theo is instrumental in bringing Boston a WS win, his salary should have been jumped to a couple million the next day.

  25. Evan on November 1st, 2005 10:28 am

    Keep in mind that Theo’s 3 years were three straight years of postseason appearances, something the Red Sox have never before managed to do. He demonstrated his value, and he wanted to be paid accordingly

  26. Mat on November 1st, 2005 10:55 am

    “My point is that some people in baseball are given truly unique opportunities that they wouldn’t be given anywhere else in the market. In such cases, a person should consider loyalty to be a factor in making a decision.”

    Those opportunities aren’t just offered out of the goodness of the owners’ hearts. That is, he wasn’t just “given” an opportunity, he had to earn it by being qualified (in the eyes of the owners) and by convincing them he was qualified. Theo got his job because the Red Sox thought he was the best man that they could get for the job. That’s business as usual, not anything that necessitates some sort of loyalty.

  27. James T on November 1st, 2005 10:56 am

    Speaking as a Red Sox fan, I’m very disappointed about this but not apoplectic like some of the people on Sons of Sam Horn. With Theo, we felt pretty certain that we had a good GM. He was not perfect. He wanted to sign Edgardo Alfonso. They’ve had terrible bullpens in 2 of his 3 years with the team and the story that I heard in regard to utterly incompetent Grady Little was that Theo not only didn’t want to fire him after his 2002 tour of ineptitude but was very reluctant to let him go after his many fiascos of 2003.

    That said, he’s officially the guy who gets credit for bringing David Ortiz, Bill Mueller, Keith Foulke and Schilling to the Red Sox.

    I think mine is by far a minority opinion but I would love it if the Sox would consider Paul DePodesta. In a members only section at SOSH, someone posted some speeches he gave to business groups in 2003 and they were sharp, level headed stuff. Contrary to his stat geek caricature image thanks to the likes of Plaschke, DePodesta was a college player and he did advance scouting for the Indians. Maybe the example is too close by for someone living in Massachusetts, but I can’t help thinking of Bill Belichick, who washed out in his first head coaching job with the Browns and then came over to the Patriots, made a few changes to his M.O. and did spectacularly well. DePodesta’s a smart guy and he can recognize what errors he made. I’d love for the Sox to give him a shot with much of the same supporting cast that Theo had. But I wonder if the choice will be made for PR value.

  28. Rusty on November 1st, 2005 11:29 am

    Okay… looks like my view is in the minority on this loyalty thingie. I’ll be quiet now.

  29. John D. on November 1st, 2005 12:18 pm

    Speaking as a former Red Sox fan–before most of them became almost as obnoxious as Yankee fans (or were they always that way?)–it seems that the Red Sox have committed a terrible blunder (thrown away a pearl richer than all its tribe).
    It’s heart-warming to see that such blunders are not confined to the Seattle Mariners.

  30. LB on November 1st, 2005 12:33 pm

    #25: He demonstrated his value, and he wanted to be paid accordingly

    He was going to be paid accordingly. He negotiated contract with an acceptable salary and then decided not to take the job for other reasons (apparently named “Larry” and “Lucchino”). Better to say, he wanted to be treated accordingly.

  31. Mat on November 1st, 2005 2:08 pm

    “He was going to be paid accordingly.”

    Reports had the Sox’ offer at $4.5M over three years, just after Cashman had signed for $5M over three years. Personally, if I get offered less money than the guy in the cubicle next to me, even though I feel I’m doing just as well or better, I wouldn’t think I was getting paid according to my value.

    That said, I think you’re right to point out that Theo’s treatment probably had to do more with his decision than the money did.

  32. James T on November 1st, 2005 2:42 pm

    #29. You must be the first person I’ve ever heard of who decided to stop rooting for a team not because of something a player did, not for something the organization did but because of a perceived attitude among other fans of that team. I’m skeptical.

  33. Jeff on November 1st, 2005 3:46 pm

    Bill Simmons has been hit or miss lately, but I think his piece on Epstein is very insightful.

  34. Evan on November 1st, 2005 4:00 pm

    I generally consider “pay” to include both monetary and non-monetary compensation.

  35. Dobbs on November 1st, 2005 4:19 pm

    And so the Curse of Theo began.

  36. goodbye baseball on November 1st, 2005 5:13 pm


    I just read SImmons’ piece, and that’s a very interesting point he brings up at the end about what happens when dreams come true, and how long the satisfaction lasts. The other observation I have is that jealousy and insecurity may be just as much a root of evil as money is. I’m considered an important person at my company and I had to deal with the daily slights of a former boss who couldn’t handle the fact that I was promoted to a position just below hers. Thank goodness I won that power struggle.

    Getting back to the Epstein debacle, I don’t think Larry Lucchino could handle the fact that the credit and notoriety were being given to the GM, even if Epstein didn’t want all of it. His jealousy and insecurity, plus the subsequent actions fueled by those traits, are the reason Theo is out. How strange that Cashman stays in NY and Epstein leaves Boston when many thought it would be the other way around.

    I haven’t read Shaughnessy’s column yet, but at face value I sense a small similarity between this situation and what happened to Tom Seaver with the Mets in 1977. DIck Young, a once legendary NY baseball writer, published a nasty column about Seaver’s wife during Seaver’s contentious contract negotiations at the time. It led to Seaver’s trade and a collapse in the team’s record, attendance, and relevance. It also signaled the end of M. Donald Grant’s tenure as team chairman and killed Young’s credibility — something he would spend the last decade of his life trying in vain to recover. Let that be a warning to the Boston Globe’s “esteemed” baseball columnist.

  37. msb on November 1st, 2005 6:40 pm

    Sean McAdam reminded us this morning that Theo & Lucchino go all the way back to his hiring as an intern in ’92, and that there is a sense that Lucchino still tends to think of Theo as a kid who need to be told what to do….

  38. mara on November 1st, 2005 8:28 pm

    This is second-hand info (i.e. one person between me and the speaker), and I believe it to be reliable…what Leslie Epstein said yesterday evening, regarding his son Theo’s decision to quit:

    “It’s not about the money, and it’s not about the power. It’s the people he has to work under.”

  39. LB on November 1st, 2005 11:35 pm

    #38: It jibes with what’s been printed in New England papers.

    And it jibes with my career experience. When I had a boss I didn’t want to work for, I found a better one.