Tell you the truth, I went into this off-season thinking the Yanks would be thrown into chaos by the loss of their GM, and that the Red Sox re-signing Theo Epstein was simply a formality. Man, was I wrong.
I heard almost simultaneously that Epstein had re-upped on a three year contract, and that he'd quit, both through BP's internal email system. I rushed to check, and the whole thing was confirmed. The story that's out there loudest is that Epstein quit because his relationship with club President Larry Lucchino had deteriorated to the point where Prince Theo no longer wanted the job of his dreams. Most sources pointed to this pro-Lucchino article written by the Curly Haired Boyfriend (as Carl Everett used to call the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy).
Now, the article is biased, patronizing, and somewhat idiotic (in CHB's mind, being in the Basketball NCAA Final Four thirty or so years ago makes you a "baseball man"). Still, it doesn't seem like justification for quitting your job. I guess it's all in the context--if I go through some work to try and save my relationship with someone, think that I've done so and make a career decision based upon that belief, and THEN read a story planted by that person with the biggest hack journalist in town...
...Well, I'd be mad, that's for certain. Maybe it would be enough to make me give up the job that I've worked for my entire life. Maybe.
I can't help but contrast this with Brian Cashman's situation. I think that Lucchino's an SOB--the kind of guy who comes in handy when you want to twist some arms in order to get a new ballpark, but not the kind of guy you want to keep around when there's no one to extort or threaten. Why? Because if he's not using his dark skills on your behalf, he's liable to get bored, and wind up using them on you.
But for all of Lucchino's skills with leaking information to the press, throwing tantrums, and doing hurtful things to his officemates, does anyone really think he holds a candle to George Steinbrenner? Sure, you figure that Big Stein is old and benign now, but if you want to talk about abuse, I'm sure that he can still dish it with the best of them.
Steinbrenner taunted Cashman with unflattering comparisons to Epstein, who we are told is one of Cashman's closest friends in the business. Steinbrenner did this publicly. He also publicly humiliated his GM on a half-dozen occasions--not letting him go to the Winter Meetings one year, openly hollering at him during a playoff game another. And this is only during Cashman's tenure--the Boss has been torturing his front office folks for as long as he's been an owner.
Yet Cashman stays, and Theo goes. The honeymoon in Boston lasts a year--just barely. And that's really what's at stake in Epstein's decision to leave. He did a great job with the Red Sox the past three years, but as an executive, it is extremely likely that Epstein is replaceable. The good vibe he brought into Boston? Perhaps less so.