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SABR Rattled?
2005-11-01 10:05
by Mike Carminati

What happened?

In the span of a couple of days, the sabermetrically minded world has lost two general managers. Paul DePodesta (deservedly) lost his post with the Dodgers. That was expected, but then the bombshell hit. Theo Epstein, the boy wonder who brought the Red Sox their first championship since Moses parted the Red Sea—at least that's the way Red Sox Nation viewed—, just up and quit.

As a result, two of the more storied franchises, not to mention two of the largest payrolls, in baseball are left reeling. Theories abound that the first opening (Dodgers) may be filled by the man who created the second (i.e., Epstein).

Of course, Pat Gillick might get the LA job, which would create an opening in Seattle. That would make three unsavory GM posts unoccupied with the Phils and D Rays also GM-less. Each has its own problems. The Phils just missed the playoffs but are locked into a number of long-term, albatross-like contracts. Seattle is a vast wasteland of talent. And the Devil Rays are, well, the Devil Rays, no matter how much money the new owner promises to pump into the team (remember contraction can be effected without the players' approval at the end of the current CBA at the end of the next season).

So Theo might be on hiatus in 2006, which seems insane given he was offered $4.5 M for the next three years of his life. One has to think he has something set up to walk away from that much money, but the young are so idealistic—maybe he quit on principle.

Or maybe he just got sick of the obnoxious Dan Shaughnessy and the rest of Red Sox Nation. On the eve of Epstein's departure, Shaughnessy publicly aired all of the Red Sox front office's dirty laundry.

Shaughnessy portrayed Theo as a young Luke Skywalker who bristles at the continued mentoring by a little puppet with Miss Piggy's voice.

The Theo-Larry story is as old as the Bible. Mentor meets protege. Mentor teaches young person all he knows. Eventually, the prodigy is ready to make it on his own and no longer feels he needs the old man. That's what we've seen unfold on Yawkey Way, and that's why the Theo deal is not done yet.

The Bible?!? The Red Sox infighting has to have epic roots, right? Leave it to the Curse of the Bambino script to be understated. Shaughnessy goes on to laud the talents of the man, who did his best Wrestlemania trash-talking in dubbing the Yankees the "Evil Empire". (Again with the Star Wars references?)

So like "Grasshopper" Caine, Theo has completed his training and must go through the branding-and-being-left-in-the-snow rituals of manhood. Or at least look for a new job.

The sabermetric world loses one of its young patriarchs. I have to tell you that it sounds like the monks locking themselves up in their ivory towers at the start of the Middle Ages, holed up with all the knowledge then known to the world, making wine, and letting the rest of the world fall into darkness or at least the second division, only being interrupted by crappy Sean Connery film-alizations of classic Umberto Eco novels.

This seems all the more true with all of the absurd "small ball" talk in the postseason. So the pendulum seems to swinging back. Other than small pockets of sanity, the baseball world seems ready to follow Ozzie Guillen and his antics into the "small ball" pall. We or the sabermetric ilk are left hoping that Billy Beane can complete is one-year rebuilding phase in Oakland and that Toronto will someday coalesce into a better than average team.

As if the lights were all out everywhere, except in Sabermetrica. Keep those lights burning, cover them with stats, ring them with VORP, build a canopy of Win Shares and park-adjusted ERA around them. Hello, Sabermetrica, hang on to your lights: they're the only lights left in the world! (with nods to Johnny Jones.)

2005-11-01 10:25:01
1.   Cliff Corcoran
Two things:

1) explain why you think DePo deserved to get canned

2) Billy Bavasi is the M's GM, he replaced Gillick prior to the 2004 season.

2005-11-01 12:54:14
2.   Xeifrank
I have to echo the comments in post #1, why do you think Depo deserved to get canned? That comment is what stuck out most in your article about Theo.
vr, Xei
2005-11-01 13:21:16
3.   Todd S
Agreed with 1 and 2. That shocked me. Only two years (one of which resulted in a playoff appearance) to put his players in place? I thought that was way too soon for him to be let go.
2005-11-01 13:30:25
4.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
Yes! Please elaborate on why DePodesta deserved to be canned, in your eyes! I am eager to hear the thoughts of someone sabermetrically inclined who holds that viewpoint, as so far, I've heard only:

- Mystery (e.g. comments of other GMs)
- Bitgod (Back in the good old days) commentary

2005-11-01 15:06:07
5.   FirstMohican
Another vote for an explanation! =)
2005-11-01 16:10:24
6.   Mike from Hoboken
Amazing, isn't it? Brian Cashman still has his job and Theo Epstein doesn't. The Sox really do devour their own. They did it to Nomar and they'll be doing it to Manny and the other idiots soon enough. Pedro was right to escape.
2005-11-01 17:20:37
7.   Anthony
According to Jim Duquette (from BP's The Week in Quotes):

"Typically, the first year is for evaluating the operation. Year 2 is often a transition year, and Year 3 is the make-or-break year for many GMs. From Paul's standpoint, I think it is a little unfair to pull the plug on a process that he was just in the process of building."

I don't think any GM deserves to get fired after only two years.

2005-11-02 06:30:08
8.   Marc Normandin
Except Jim Bowden of course, but thats because he probably should not be hired in the first place. I was hoping he had changed his ways before coming to Washington, but no, he did no such thing. If anything, it was worse.
2005-11-02 07:54:33
9.   HomeDePo
One more vote for an explanation. Shock me with a good one. I doubt you will...
2005-11-02 10:28:55
10.   FirstMohican
It seems to take longer than I would've thought to formulate an argument for firing DePodesta...
2005-11-02 13:00:39
11.   Mike Carminati
Don't be saucy with me, Bernaise.

It's coming....

2005-11-02 15:27:01
12.   Mike Carminati
OK, look up.....

Made you look.

2005-11-03 04:48:20
13.   Marc Normandin
Oh Harvey I miss Mel Brooks movies. When will Robin Hood Men in Tights come out on DVD?

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