EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

October 23, 2007

Give Theo a little credit

BOSTON — Theo Epstein stinks.

Isn’t that pretty much the consensus?

World Series or no World Series? Praise for the Red Sox general manager is begrudging because of J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp, to name a few.

If the Red Sox win it all this year, everyone will receive praise. Everyone, except Theo.

He had the budget, $143 million, to buy a winner and he did what he was supposed to do, and that’s that.

Apparently, the Red Sox have not only traded places with the Yankees in the standings, but we as fans have become like our neighbors from the Bronx. World Series or bust. Black or white. The “Boston Is Burning” mini-series needs only a director.

It’s pretty pathetic. But that’s pretty much what has happened.

I plead guilty to stoking the flames. I’ve brought up the slumping Drew and Lugo enough times on the airwaves to cause car sickness.

Sure, Theo may have spent money like crazy over the winter, to the tune of $202 million when you include Daisuke Matsuzaka’s six-year, $52 million contract and $51.1 million posting fee totalling $103.1 million.

To this day, I can’t figure out the Lugo and Drew acquisitions. They were advertised as sure busts in Boston, and thus far, they have been. The only plausible guess I can make is team statistician Bill James told Theo both would have career seasons, and overpaying them a tad would be worth it.

Whatever the case, the 33-year-old Epstein still deserves something he gets very little of these days — credit.

Forget that this was Boston’s third trip to the ALCS in five years and second trip to the World Series.

“It’s funny that some people don’t consider what’s happened around here under Theo’s watch a success,” said Red Sox minority owner Tom Werner before Sunday’s ALCS game with the Indians. “We’re here at Fenway Park, with home field advantage for a Game 7. I think, win or lose, the Red Sox have been a success this year.”

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