With the Chicago Cubs struggling and the Boston Red Sox failing to hire a steady General Manager post 2001-11 Theo. An Epstein return to Fenway would play major in regaining farm system strength that quickly diluted under former President Dave Dombrowksi and his tenure.
With both the 2019 Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs falling short in their 80+/ below 90-win seasons, in the Wild Card race, perhaps it’s time Theo Epstein and the Red Sox consider a Boston reunion prior to the 2020 season.
It’s September 26, 2019, and both the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs will NOT see October baseball, contending for their organization’s second World Series title in the past four seasons. Instead, both preseason favorites take a “short end of the stick” draw into their off-seasons where they’ll both need to address major concerns in order to find themselves back in contention.
For Boston, it’s post the Dave Dombrowski era in which our front-office head honcho would spend countless amounts of money, deal away various farm system prospects while doing nothing to sustain a strong minor-league crew of players for the future. 30 total prospects plus a major league quality everyday left-handed bat in Travis Shaw.
That all came at the underwhelming return of arms like Tyler Thornburg, Drew Pomeranz, and even Carson Smith. Two failed attempts at landing reliant bullpen arms and a lefty who simply caught fire for the first half of a season in San Diego after being batted around to kick-off his career as reliever himself.
Nevertheless, perhaps 2019 would serve as a sacrifice in order to exploit ownership of a departure that quite frankly should’ve never taken place post a notorious September 2011 collapse on a daunting night in Baltimore.
Theo Epstein, 45, is also facing his fair share of struggles with his Chicago Cubs in a fairly identical place to that of the 2019 Red Sox- sitting with a big fat E in their standings mark with no sights lights on for October baseball in Wrigley Field this year. Instead, Epstein will finish with a below 90-win season for the first time before Theo’s masterplan of transcending a losing franchise first came into fruition.
The Chicago Cubs are left with not a playoff series come October, but a series of questions regarding what’s to come in 2020. Do they fire Joe Maddon? With the current Cubs skipper not under contract following the 2019 season and MLB’s Jon Heyman stating that “we can count on the fact that the Cubs will have a different manager next year”, it would appear as though Chicago is looking forward to 2020 with a different managerial direction in mind.
Brookline kid back to Boston?
Perhaps the time has come for both the Red Sox and Theo Epstein to bury the 2011 hatchet via a homecoming return with the GM/ President of Baseball Operations slot being open. Leaving behind a $220 million playoff miss team in order to help re-establish and re-identify an organization who’s appeared as nothing short of clueless in regards to operating their farm system and evaluating prospect talent.
At now 45 years old, Theo Epstein has shattered two major franchise “curses” in fully transcending both franchises into year-to-year legitimate playoff contenders. Now 2019 aside, Epstein has three World Series titles under his belt (2004, 07 Red Sox and 2016 Cubs) in which both cities saw multi-decade droughts without seeing a baseball title.
Even with Epstein not present for the 2013 and 2018 World Series Championship seasons in Boston, a portion of those titles certainly fall on his baseball genius as the man calling the shots from the front office desk.
- Dustin Pedroia (second baseman): 2004, second round, 65th overall
A 2007 Rookie of the Year, 2008 American League MVP, Pedroia quickly cemented himself as the everyday second base-man for years to come following a short April 07′ swoon at the plate.
Pedroia batted .301 with nine home-runs and 84 runs batted in as Boston’s second base-man en route to their 2013 World Series win over St. Louis.
- Christian Vazquez (catcher): 2008, ninth round, 292nd overall
Not viewed as a power-bat at all in Boston’s lineup, Christian Vazquez has sprung to becoming one of the most dangerous bats behind the plate in baseball.
After hitting just .207 with three home runs in Boston 119-win 2018 season, Vazquez entered 2019 with 10 total homers under his belt for his career entirely. Now he’s racking up career highs everywhere, hitting .275/.320/.478 with 23 home runs, 26 doubles, and 71 runs batted in.
Vazquez, 29, is just three home-runs shy of tying Carlton Fisk’s record for the most home-runs hit by any Red Sox catcher in a single season. His Ivan Rodriguez-like defensive flash behind the plate cannot be questioned, and it seems as though neither will his bat for seasons to come.
- Matt Barnes (right-handed reliever): 2011, first round, 19th overall
One of the very few lights in what was a dark, daunting tunnel of a 2019 Red Sox bullpen. Matt Barnes has grown to becoming a reliable and consistent arm who’s performed beyond the regular season.
In 11 games and 10.1 post-season innings pitched, Barnes currently holds an 0.87 ERA with only one playoff run allowed which came against the Houston Astros in the 2018 American League Championship Series.
Even despite a pointless 2019 season, Barnes still manage to uphold a below 4 ERA while now sitting just a game shy of matching a career-high in games played (70) with four left on the season.
- Jackie Bradley Jr (centerfielder): 2011, first round, 40th overall
Speaking of the Houston Astros and the 2018 ALCS, next comes another Epstein selection in former South Carolina outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Also known as the man who’s game two, bases-clearing double helped flip the switch and propel the Red Sox to their 2018 pennant and himself to the American League Championship series MVP.
Despite constant struggles at the plate, Bradley Jr has shown potential power to his bat, just no consistency. All while remaining perhaps the best defensive outfielder in Red Sox history with the ability to throw a runner out from third base on a base hit to center (Matt Carpenter Aug. 16, 2017).
- Mookie Betts (rightfielder): 2011, fifth round, 172nd overall
An explanation isn’t needed to be placed at all here. If it weren’t for a questionable voting decision in 2016, we’d be talking about a two-time A.L. MVP in baseball’s best right-fielder.
Betts, 26, has already managed to establish himself as next in line due for a major pay-day. He racked more hardware from a Rawlings Gold Glove to an MVP, a Silver Slugger, and a World Series ring, then any player in American League baseball history!
He’s only 26…
- Xander Bogaerts (shortstop): International free agent signing on Aug. 23, 2009
The without question 2019 Red Sox MVP, Xander Bogaerts has managed to make the Red Sox front-office look incredibly smart for their lock-down six-year/$132 million agreement prior to the season.
He’s currently hitting .305 with 32 home runs and 113 runs batted in. All coming sought after due to a wasted season in which Dombrowski claimed nobody on the Red Sox was “showing him something.” Apparently spending $132 million on your franchise shortstop and watching him put up career-high numbers isn’t enough. A season that mind you, made Bogaerts the second-ever shortstop in baseball history to hit 30+ home-runs with 50+ doubles. The other? Alex Rodriguez in 1996 with the Seattle Mariners.
Not to mention Epstein was the man responsible for signing perhaps the most important and unbeatably impactful player in David Ortiz, taking that franchise-altering flyer back in 2003. A signing that spoke for itself 500 home-runs, 10 All-Star appearances, seven Silver Slugger Awards, three World Series titles, and a hall of fame career later.
With big decisions to come prior to kicking off the 2020 Red Sox, there’s no better man in line for the job of head honcho then the one who’s genius in acquiring young talent through the draft and internationally, is unmatched league-wide.