Yesterday, I brought your attention to a Jeff Passan article in which the Yahoo! Sports writer shoved blame down the throat of Theo Esptein for the Boston Red Sox poor play of late, like it was a viral video titled Two Shovels, One GM.
The blame train keeps rolling today with an article by Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal (whom I assume would cause the world to cave in on itself if he were to ever meet the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin). Donaldson has been on a year long tirade against the five year $82.5 million contract that the Red Sox handed Lackey ahead of the 201o season, and with good reason: it’s a terrible deal.
However, to paint Epstein as a poor general manager based on one bad signing is to conveniently forget that the Boston Red Sox have represented the American League East in the playoffs in six of the eight years that Epstein has been in charge and that this team, the one that Epstein put together, went on a tear winning 70 of 103 games this season between April 16th and August 9th. Wow. What a failure!
Yes, the Lackey contract wasn’t a good one, and neither was the Daisuke Matsuzaka one or the terms given to J.D. Drew, but get over it. Those deals have nothing to do with Boston’s recent struggles. It’s far more complicated than a mere mistake made by a general manager.
Here’s what’s really happening:
- Dustin Pedroia is struggling;
- Carl Crawford has had a terrible season;
- Kevin Youkilis is playing hurt;
- Daniel Bard has struggled at times; and
- Including Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz (both suffering from long term injuries), five pitchers have missed starts due to injury this month.
While a good GM will have an understanding of a player’s ability to remain healthy, there’s a ton of luck involved, and even the best front offices can’t predict the timing of injuries.
However, what bothers me the most about these #BlameEpstein articles is that no one is mentioning the Tampa Bay Rays, who have played very good baseball of late, going 21-11 since the middle of August. The Boston Red Sox don’t exist in a vacuum that excludes the play of other teams.
I feel like I might need to record myself under a blanket, wearing mascara, imploring people to leave Theo alone. That should work, right?