Jaffe: Comparing Theo Epstein’s turnarounds of Cubs, Red Sox

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated on May 2, 2017:

The Red Sox took two out of three from the Cubs this past weekend in a Boston series that was more notable for its symbolism—club president Theo Epstein’s first visit to Fenway Park since his current team ended its 108-year championship drought—than its outcome. Epstein of course, was the general manager of the Red Sox when they ended their own 86-year dry spell in 2004. The eternal question to ponder is which of the two championships represents his greater accomplishment.

One can make arguments for either of the two, but even so, it’s necessary to acknowledge two key points: First, the playoffs are a crapshoot, and both of these teams might be remembered differently had a break or two gone in a different direction. Second, one executive doesn’t win a championship any more than one player does. It takes a team, both on the field and off it, to do so.

This actually simplifies an element of the argument, at least for the moment. In Boston, Epstein was the youngest general manager in the game’s history at 28 when he was promoted from assistant GM in November 2002. While generally portrayed as the man in charge and credited with masterminding many of the signature moves that helped the Red Sox win it all, at times he clashed with team president/CEO Larry Lucchino. In Chicago, Epstein has more autonomy as the team president with Jed Hoyer, a former assistant in Boston, the GM. But for the purposes of this this discussion, we can set the distinction aside.

Read the full article here: https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/05/02/theo-epstein-chicago-cubs-boston-red-sox

Originally published: May 2, 2017. Last Updated: May 2, 2017.