Results tagged ‘ Ben Cherington ’
Tomorrow, Theo Epstein starts Chapter 2 as a Major League general manager, leaving quite a legacy behind in Boston as he takes over as President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs.
When Epstein took over, we knew he was young and smart. Did we know he’d be able to lead the Red Sox to their first two championships since 1918? How could anybody know that?
I thought this would be as good a time as any to go back to what Epstein said at his initial press conference on Nov. 25, 2002, when he was promoted in the very same room — back then it was the .406 club, now it’s the State Street Pavilion — where Ben Cherington will get his coronation tomorrow. It’s equally fun to go back and listen to what the Red Sox said about Epstein the day they formally gave him the job.
Why did the Sox select Epstein as their GM when Billy Beane turned the job down?
“We’ve selected him for his intellect; we’ve selected him for his character. We’ve selected him for his passion for baseball, his knowledge and history and passion for the Red Sox,” said Larry Lucchino almost nine years ago. “For the breadth of his work experience. And for the ability to bring people together and work together in new and innovative ways. We think Theo Epstein has a chance to be an outstanding long-term general manager of the Red Sox.”
Yes, six postseason berths, four LCS’s and two championships over nine years could be classified as an “outstanding long-term general manager of the Red Sox.”
So why did John Henry think Theo was the guy?
“He has been a constant source of ideas, energy and intelligence for us since he came home to Boston,” Henry said on Nov. 25, 2002. “He joins a select group of young and highly talented general managers in today’s game who are revolutionizing baseball. We believe he will excel from day one.”
Well, pretty much. Epstein put together a formidable team in that winter of ’02-03 and the Red Sox nearly made it to the World Series in his first season.
Epstein, thinking of people like Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer no doubt, promised he would not reach his goals alone.
“But no one person is going to turn the Red Sox into a world championship organization,” said Epstein. “It’s going to happen, but it’s going to be a group effort. It’s going to be through collective hard work and through our collective wisdom. Our short-term goal is to win and win a World Series, and that starts with getting to the postseason. So if you need to write down what our goal is for 2003, it’s to make the postseason.”
Short term goals were all reached.
What would his style be?
“My management style is to solicit opinions of those around me, those older and wiser,” said Epstein. “Hear not only what they have to say, but why. I want to hear why you have your opinions. As Chuck Tanner said, baseball is an opinion. We’re going to turn every issue over and over again. At the appropriate time, I’ll step in and act.”
At first, Epstein relied heavily on the late Bill Lajoie. In later years, he trusted Allard Baird and others greatly. Epstein never tried to act as if he was acting all on his own will.
“Our first organizational goal is winning and winning soon,” said Epstein. “Our second organizational goal is creating an atmosphere where we can sustain that type of competitiveness and that type of success long term.
If not for a barrage of injuries in 2010 and a historic collapse this time, Epstein’s regime could have been eight postseason appearances in nine years. Either way, his team was competitive and had success long term.
How was Epstein going to back up these big words?
“How do we create this environment where we’re going to sustain competitiveness and success? We’re going to turn the Red Sox into a scouting and player development machine. Every time I say this around the office, we all get excited because the sky is the limit. I’ll say it again, we’re going to become a scouting and player development machine,” Epstein said. “That means we’re going to draft exceptionally well. We’re going to sign our players. We’re going to have an idea on what kind of players we’re going to develop. We’re going to get to a point where every year great young players are coming up through the system into the Major Leagues, giving us flexibility and talent.”
Jonathan Papelbon. Dustin Pedroia. Jacoby Ellsbury. Clay Buchholz. Daniel Bard. Justin Masterson. Casey Kelly, Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo turned into Adrian Gonzalez. Ah yes, a scouting and player development machine.
“Once we reach that point, we’ll have created that player development and scouting machine. We have a chance to win in 2003, and win it all. If we build the scouting and player development machine, we’ll have an opportunity to say that every year.”
There wasn’t one year in Epstein’s tenure where you could look at the Red Sox in Spring Training and not have a legitimate chance to win a World Series.
And finally some closing thoughts from Larry Lucchino nine years ago.
“This is no longer your father’s Oldsmobile, to borrow from that commercial,” Lucchino said. “The Red Sox are determined to do new and innovative things to work with new approaches, to use new people, to push the envelope, so to speak, for baseball. We will do so while blending into that mix the reverence, respect and traditions and history of the Red Sox and baseball. He is a very strong-willed and independently willed person. Anybody who knows him will tell you that.”
Tomorrow, Epstein will give his mission statement in Chicago. Three hours later, Cherington will give his at Fenway.
Finally, it’s done. After multiple weeks of heavy speculation, and over a week since Theo Epstein agreed on a contract with the Chicago Cubs, he is now the president of baseball operations for a team that hasn’t won the World Series since 1908.
Because of the World Series, both teams will hold off on press conferences until Tuesday, at which time perhaps the compensation package coming to the Red Sox will be revealed.
Ben Cherington, Epstein’s long-time lieutenant, will also be unveiled as general manager of the Red Sox at that time.
Epstein’s tenure with the Red Sox — which lasted a month short of nine years if you take away his two-month sabbatical — was certainly a memorable one.
At the age of 28, Epstein, the youngest general manager in baseball history, vowed he would turn the Red Sox into scouting and player development machine. He vowed to turn them into a team that was competitive year in and year out. More or less, he accomplished his goals, albeit with more success in his first six seasons in office than his last three.
In Epstein’s first six years, the Sox made it to the ALCS four times, won two World Series, made the playoffs five times and posted an October record of 34-20. Over his last three seasons, the Sox made the playoffs just once, going 0-3.
Now, Epstein will try to turn the Cubs into a scouting and player development machine, and end their World Series that stretches back to 1908.
It will be interesting to see what Cherington will do as the GM. At the age of 37, he is well groomed for his new role.
Cherington has long worked under Epstein. He actually predates his former boss in the Red Sox organization.
Cherington was hired by the Red Sox in 1999 as a mid-Atlantic area scout and joined the baseball operations department in May of that year. The New Hampshire native was named the club’s director of player development in 2002 and served in that role until December, 2005, when he became co-GM of the Red Sox, along with Jed Hoyer, when Epstein resigned from the GM post for two months. Cherington worked as vice president of player personnel for three years before being promoted to the role of assistant GM in January 2009.
He has quite the offseason in front of him. First of all, there is the task of finding a new manager.
Then there are key personnel decisions. Do the Sox keep David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon? What to do about right field and shortstop? Do you let the old guard of Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek go?
All this and more will be answered in the coming weeks, as the Cherington regime commences.
When the story broke last Wednesday that Theo Epstein had agreed to a five-year contract with the Cubs, most of us felt his coronation in Chicago — and Ben Cherington’s in Boston — would happen within the next day or two.
But as tends to happen with these things, it has dragged out, with both sides trying to make the best compensation deal possible.
For those of us who would just love to see this thing get resolved one way or the other, it’s probably good that there’s somewhat of an artificial deadline in place.
The World Series starts Wednesday night in St. Louis. MLB has a very strong policy of not wanting any major announcements to trump the Fall Classic.
I don’t think either side wants this situation to drag past the World Series, which would end on Oct. 23 at the absolute earliest.
This is a major offseason for both teams. The Red Sox need to find a new manager, and then have several key personnel decisions to make. The Cubs obviously have some big decisions to make as well — moves that are all but certain to be made by Epstein.
I’m guessing two Tuesday afternoon press conferences — one at Wrigley for Epstein and one in Boston for Cherington.