Theo Epstein: Red Sox owners wanted ‘sexy’ players
Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has co-authored a book, and as expected there are parts in it that paint an unflattering picture of the way the team’s owners operate. As many of us already suspected, John Henry and company care more about the image of their team than they do about putting a winning team on the field.
In his book, “Francona: The Red Sox Years,” Francona talks about how Henry, team chairman Tom Werner and team president Larry Lucchino were always worried about television ratings. Former general manager Theo Epstein, who is now with the Chicago Cubs, also weighed in.
“They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle,” Epstein said. “We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.”
In 2004, Epstein was able to break an 86-year World Series drought with little-known players like Bill Mueller and Kevin Millar. David Ortiz was hardly a household name when Boston brought him over from Minnesota, but he was a “small” acquisition that wound up becoming huge. On the other hand, trading for Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford two years ago brought fireworks in the media, but it led to one of the worst results the team had seen in years.
Francona even went as far as to say he doesn’t think the current Red Sox ownership group loves baseball.
“They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don’t think they love baseball,” Francona said. “I think they like baseball. It’s revenue, and I know that’s their right and their interest because they’re owners … and they’re good owners. But they don’t love the game. It’s still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It’s not their blood. They’re going to come in and out of baseball. It’s different for me. Baseball is my life.”
After Francona was fired following Boston’s epic collapse in 2011, Henry had to defend himself against accusations that he leaked information to the media to smear Francona’s name. Tito seems to think it happened that way, and who can blame him? The quotes in the book simply confirm what Red Sox fans have come to know so well — it’s all about image for Henry and the boys.