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Thread: Front Office Accountability

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    Playoffs Cyclone792's Avatar
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    Front Office Accountability

    Nah, not from the Reds or Wayne Krivsky ... yet, if ever.

    But from Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox. Here's some highlights ...

    GM sees errors of his trades
    By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | October 1, 2006

    Of all the questions swirling around the Red Sox this offseason, from the future address of outfielder Manny Ramírez, to the role of pitcher Jonathan Papelbon, to the keep-him-or-not debate over shortstop Alex Gonzalez, there is one that evidently has been put to rest, perhaps with no more than a handshake. No signature required. No furtive departures on the agenda.

    ``Oh yeah, we worked that out," Epstein said last week when asked to address the matter of his return, even as he sidestepped the issue of whether he had signed the contract drawn up by the Red Sox. ``There was nothing to work out."

    The full weight, then, of how the Sox proceed this winter will thus fall upon the 32-year-old general manager, unlike last year, when a fractured front office made decisions that profoundly affected the shape of a team that faded badly after operating for half a season with what turned out to be deceptive smoothness.

    Epstein was at best a shadow presence last offseason, offering counsel behind the scenes when the Red Sox traded their best prospect, Hanley Ramírez, to Florida in November as part of a package for pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell, a trade whose merits are likely to be analyzed for some time to come, especially if the arc of Ramírez's career ascends to the heights promised by his sensational debut or Beckett flat-lines.

    Epstein, according to Sox insiders, was not an advocate of making that deal, though he now champions Beckett. But he chafes at another deal for which he takes full responsibility, the one he made May 1 in which he gave up promising relief pitcher Cla Meredith to San Diego to meet the urgent need of finding someone (Doug Mirabelli) who could catch Tim Wakefield's knuckleball.

    That deal, in his view, was a betrayal of a principle he considers essential to the future success of the ball club: having patience with your prospects. It is a mistake he is determined not to repeat as he plots the moves he intends to make this winter. His operating philosophy is the same one he espoused back in the spring, when he said the goal is to integrate young players while maintaining the momentum of winning.

    ``I still think that's the goal," Epstein said. ``I think there were several missteps along the way, there were several obstacles along the way. Now the challenge is to apply the things that we've learned from our mistakes and do a better job."


    One he'd like back

    The Meredith case, Epstein said, reflected both the strengths and weaknesses of the Sox' approach. The team obviously did well in scouting and drafting him, and providing a setting in which he thrived in his first full year of pro ball. The flaw was rushing him to the big leagues -- manager Terry Francona has kicked himself on numerous occasions for pushing for Meredith's promotion and mishandling him once he arrived -- then not finding a way for Meredith to regain his effectiveness when he was sent back to the minors.

    ``Everything we tried didn't work as an organization, and I'm responsible," Epstein said. ``We didn't do the right thing. He didn't [succeed] for a whole calendar year, basically. He was without his stuff, his velocity was down, his sink was way off, his secondary pitches didn't develop at all for essentially a full calendar year. This guy had gone backwards and was very fringy. Our failure was a lack of patience in not giving him longer than a calendar year to right himself."

    And so the Sox, caught up in the immediate need for Mirabelli, gave up on Meredith, who in San Diego set a club record for consecutive scoreless innings (34) while the Boston bullpen imploded. ``We didn't handle that situation well, and obviously it led to a really bad trade.

    ``We intend to be patient," said Epstein. ``We will not be the organization that we want to be without being patient. We can't control the patience of our fan base or our media, but we can absolutely control our patience, and that will be done."

    The Sox were wildly successful with entrusting the closer role to a rookie, Papelbon, and awarding first base to Kevin Youkilis, a player in his first full season. They appear bent on giving another rookie, Dustin Pedroia, every chance to claim the second base job next season. They were forced, mostly by circumstance, to assign greater responsibility than intended to young pitchers Jon Lester, Manny Delcarmen, and Craig Hansen, with decidedly mixed results.

    ``I think the second-half decline, if you want to use broad strokes, there were two things," said Epstein. ``One, it revealed we had flaws on the team, weaknesses on the team, that were revealed some but not exposed in the first half. Two, everything that could go wrong did go wrong, to an extent that I've never seen before and probably was close to unprecedented in modern baseball.

    ``But those are two separate and distinct things. One does not wash the other for us. The most important factor is the first one, not the second one. The second one, there's nothing you can do about.

    ``Look, we knew that there were players being pushed into roles that we thought at this point in their careers would be fortunate to [succeed]. Go back and look at June, how well Lester was pitching right off the bat. That's rare for that stage. Not everyone has the same assimilation to the big leagues as Jonathan Papelbon. That happens about once a generation. Hansen and Delcarmen, because of other failures in the bullpen, were being pushed up the bullpen totem pole."


    Deadline defense

    The Sox may have overachieved as they raced to the second-best record in baseball in the first half, helped in great measure by being able to beat up on National League teams ( 16-2 in interleague play).

    ``There were things that didn't get exposed in the first half, when everyone was fresh and healthy," Epstein said. ``Those things would have been exposed inevitably, but they were exposed much more quickly and dramatically because of the injuries. Then the injuries took on a life of their own. They became freakish, and would have devastated any team."

    But Epstein has little patience with those who criticize the Sox for not making a significant move at the trading deadline, and even less for those who contend the club turned down the chance to acquire a Roy Oswalt or Andruw Jones because they were unwilling to trade more prospects. The reality is that the club held onto their prospects instead of making lesser moves, and were in the end unable to persuade either the Astros, in Oswalt's case, or the Braves, in Jones's case, to part with the players.

    ``There's a lot we regret about the season as baseball operations, and a lot I personally regret," said Epstein, ``but what happened at the trade deadline is not one of those things.

    ``The force at play this offseason is balancing the urgency everyone feels to address some holes -- to put ourselves in position to win and win soon -- balancing that urgency with patience, especially in regard to young players and prospects.

    ``You can be aggressive, you can go all out in an attempt to fix problems, but that urgency cannot turn into desperation. Otherwise we'll never be the type of team we want to be."
    http://www.boston.com/sports/basebal...des/?page=full

    There is more to the article than quoted above, but what is quoted above is the crux of Theo Epstein admitting responsibility for some of his poor moves during the season with the Red Sox.

    Epstein is creative and bold, but perhaps one of his most interesting assets is that he's honest with himself, Red Sox fans and the media. If he makes a mistake with the team, he goes out and tells you that he's taking the responsibility, and what's outlined above is Epstein readily accepting responsibility for some of the mistakes he and the Red Sox front office made this season.

    Taking responsibility for bad moves is just one step to help move toward overall success, however. The next step is learning from those mistakes to ensure better decisions are made in the future when similar circumstances show their face. Of particular note is Epstein's quote regarding not allowing aggressiveness and urgency to turn into desperation, because if it does, the Red Sox become an organization that they didn't intend to be.

    Unfortunately for the Reds in 2006, we found out what happens when aggressiveness and urgency turns into desperation.

    Now while Wayne Krivsky and the Reds' front office did make some positive moves in 2006, they also made some critical mistakes along the way. Will they acknowledge - and most importantly - learn from these past mistakes? Or will they continue down a path of believing that some of the wrong moves were actually the right moves and further open the door to making those same mistakes again?

    We may not know these answers yet of whether or not Krivsky, his new front office and the Reds learn from many of their 2006 mistakes, but I'm thinking we'll definitely know most of them by the time Opening Day rolls around in April, 2007.

    Let us hope those answers are the answers we'll want to hear.
    Last edited by Cyclone792; 10-04-2006 at 10:22 PM.
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    Member Cedric's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    He's been horrible since the beginning in Boston.

    I think he is one of the worst five gm's in baseball. I'm damn glad he isn't here in Cincy.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Member SteelSD's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    He's been horrible since the beginning in Boston.

    I think he is one of the worst five gm's in baseball. I'm damn glad he isn't here in Cincy.
    Um...what?
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    If any Reds gm traded Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez for Jeff Suppan they would be hanged. I don't care about the loss of young talent that Boston is allowed to sustain.

    Bobby Abreu should be a Red Sox. Don't overpay for a Marlins pitcher, and surely don't sign him to that contract.

    Don't sign Matt Clement. That's not hindsight, I can't believe people ever thought he was good.

    Now I'll just start throwing out names of his failures. Javy Lopez, Pena, Hinske, and even Wily Mo.

    The handling of the Colorado trade is even more embarrasing.

    Forgot about Renteria.
    Last edited by Cedric; 10-04-2006 at 10:53 PM.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    He's been horrible since the beginning in Boston.

    I think he is one of the worst five gm's in baseball. I'm damn glad he isn't here in Cincy.
    And you blame me for "having a schtick."

    Dude, your blind hatred (and that's all it is) for all things intellectual and self-evaluative is, well, transparent.

    We get it. You can say something new anytime you wish.

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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    The bottom five comment was a little over the top, but I don't think his hits on Ortiz and Foulke are enough to make him a great gm.

    He has failed pretty bad in building a bullpen and meshing his young farm system with his already talent. I also don't think Dan Duquette get's enough credit for the nucleus of that 04 team.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Member Cedric's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    Quote Originally Posted by Falls City Beer View Post
    And you blame me for "having a schtick."

    Dude, your blind hatred (and that's all it is) for all things intellectual and self-evaluative is, well, transparent.

    We get it. You can say something new anytime you wish.
    If you got a problem with me personally, take it private.
    This is the time. The real Reds organization is back.

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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    The above article is representative of one reason I am a Yankees fan despite the fact that as an organization they often make me want to remove my eyelids with a shrimp fork. When they blow it, they take responsibility. Teams with high payrolls, for all of their inequities, generally come equipped with high standards to match. I do not tolerate acceptance of mediocrity in life; it's only through blind love that I have accepted it for 6+ years from one of my baseball teams.

    And I've never before agreed with Cedric, ever, but I will say that I have always thought that Epstein is slightly overrated as a GM. He has ridden -- through no fault of his own -- the boy genius train through some very rough spots. He makes some absolutely brilliant moves and I think the moves he made mid-2004 were the peak of that, and the postseason proved it, however questionable some thought they were at the time. But he's made some terrible moves too. Whether they're risks that failed (which I respect) or moves made in stupidity and an eagerness to please, I'm not sure. But all told it evens out closer to the middle than I think I lot of other people believe.
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    Where's my chair? REDREAD's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    Whether you like Epstein or not, it sure would be nice to get a quote from a Reds GM like that. I don't think we've ever had a frank discussion from a GM like that. Although, in all fairness, GMs nowdays have so many more outlets to communicate. In the pre-Bowden era, the only Reds coverage most people got was Hal McCoy's weekly sporting news column.

    I liked Bowden more than most people here, but he was the king of Spin Doctoring and exageration DanO liked to talk for 15 minutes without saying anything, and so far it appears that Wayne refuses to acknowledge mistakes (prefering to blame it on someone or something else).
    Thank you Walt and Bob for going for it in 2010-2014!

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    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    I could care less if a GM acknowledges a mistake publicly. What I want is one that will acknowledge it to himself and take the steps to make sure the reasoning that lead to the problem is not repeated.
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    Quote Originally Posted by flyer85 View Post
    I could care less if a GM acknowledges a mistake publicly. What I want is one that will acknowledge it to himself and take the steps to make sure the reasoning that lead to the problem is not repeated.
    Very well stated.

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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    I think self-effacement is a quality that would not be valued in most MLB organizations. Most owners would prefer to preserve the illusion of a steady hand on the tiller than to have the person attached to that hand announcing his failings publicly. I'm not saying it's wrong for a GM to admit mistakes... it's just different and unusual in the bravado-filled world of sports.

    The circumstances under which Theo returned to Boston seem to have imparted a special kind of leverage. It took brass to hand his owner, via the media, a short list of reasons to negatively view his performance. I don't think it would be a wise move for his counterpart in Cincinnati to do the same, given Castellini's publicly stated goals of success.

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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    There are writers up here in New England who skewer Theo every chance they get, just like there are posters on this board who pound on Krivsky. Genius is in the eye of the beholder.

    They all make moves that work out well and moves that don't. Nature of the business.

    Some have money to cover their mistakes. Some don't.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    The circumstances under which Theo returned to Boston seem to have imparted a special kind of leverage. It took brass to hand his owner, via the media, a short list of reasons to negatively view his performance. I don't think it would be a wise move for his counterpart in Cincinnati to do the same, given Castellini's publicly stated goals of success.
    I'm puzzled by this, to say the least. I think WK was upfront on his most controversial trade (Kearns/Lopez) that he understood he might have overpaid. And while early indications are that it may not have worked, it's still too early to tell. As many have said, these things take time to see how they balance out. I think he's been fairly candid that with regardings to finding pitching help, he was going to turn over every stone.

    For a GM who came in within a week of the start of Spring Training with a roster (and an organization) that had quite a lot of holes, he juggled things reasonably well. There are always certain things GM's can't talk about, particularly as they go into negotiations with their own players and possible free agents. There's something to be said for not tipping your hand too.

    I often think folks here believe things are much more underhanded than they actually are. As Freud once said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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    Re: Front Office Accountability

    Quote Originally Posted by Unassisted View Post
    The circumstances under which Theo returned to Boston seem to have imparted a special kind of leverage. It took brass to hand his owner, via the media, a short list of reasons to negatively view his performance. I don't think it would be a wise move for his counterpart in Cincinnati to do the same, given Castellini's publicly stated goals of success.
    I'm assuming that Castellini and Krivsky don't have quite the same relationship that John Henry does with Theo. Henry went through a lot to bring Theo back, he'd look like a complete ass in every way if he waffled now. I doubt it's in his nature anyway. I don't know how Theo could have made it any clearer that he simply wouldn't want the job anymore if he had to do it without Henry's support.
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