Can we add the $102 million the Red Sox have committed to Daisuke Matsuzaka to Theo Epstein’s growing list of magnificent blunders? In fact, can we call this move the biggest of Theo’s failed signings?
It’s bad enough that Matsuzaka has had mediocre results as a pitcher — not bad, but certainly not worthy of the money Theo expended to get him (i.e. Derek Lowe would have been less expensive and had equal or better results). But now he’s throwing the team under the bus. How long before the Sox pull the plug on this gaff like they did with Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo — basically swallowing a shitload of money that they get no return on.
And what does all this say about Theo Epstein, the former boy wonder GM who now looks more and more like boy blunder? If the Red Sox didn’t have deep pockets that allow them to absorb these expensive mistakes, where would the team be now?
Yes, Epstein has brought us two world championships. And he deserves praise and credit for this. But not too much. The core of the 2004 team was made up of Dan Duquette signees. And the two most important additions to the 2007 roster — Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell — were acquisitions made while Theo was off pouting and more or less out of the picture (although rumor has it that he was against that trade when consulted on it).
Epstein also deserves credit for creating a better farm system than his predecessor. Or does he? We’re now in year seven of the Epstein era, and the Sox have only developed two impact position players in that time: Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury (Kevin Youkilis was a Duquette draft pick). And who is on the horizon? Lars Anderson, the Sox top position prospect seems to be languishing in double A ball. The Sox have known for some time that they needed to have an heir apparent for Jason Varitek, yet there seems to be no one ready to take over the catching duties. Where is the power-hitting outfielder? Where’s the next third baseman?
But we’ve got Papelbon and Masterson and Bard and Delcarmen and Lester and possibly Buchholz (though the jury is still out on him). The Sox farm system has been very good at developing young arms.
Which gets us back to Dice-K, who was a crap shoot from the start. An expensive, risky bet, and one that looks as if it is not going to pay off. I wonder if the Sox will find someone — possibly San Diego or Seattle — who might be willing to take the Japanese hurler in a trade. If so, the Sox will be eating the $52 million posting fee they made… and possibly some of Dice-K’s remaining contract.
And how much longer will John Henry be willing to let the young GM continue to fritter his money away? In this economy, it seems like the leash will be getting shorter and shorter. When that happens, when Theo knows he is going to have to live with his mistakes year in and year out, I wonder how he’ll do. Perhaps better. Perhaps he won’t throw unnecessary money at the likes of J.D. Drew… the G.D. dreadful rightfielder. Maybe, just maybe Theo won’t be so willing to roll the dice on these big, stupid contracts, which seem to mostly lead to snake eyes.