The 2011 season is one that I’ll never forget. (Fast-forward to 2021 where I’m doing a Remembering the 2011 Red Sox series.) I won’t go into the entire history of that team, but we all remember the horrible ending. If you don’t, just trust me when I say ignorance is bliss. After the season, the organization underwent a massive change in which they lost both their manager and their general manager. The story of the Terry Francona and the garbage he dealt with on his way out the door is a story for another day, but with the Cubs coming to town this weekend it’s worth looking at former GM Theo Epstein’s ongoing legacy for the Red Sox.
Epstein hasn’t been with Boston since immediately after the 2011 season and he joined the Cubs organization at that time. He’s already rebuilt that franchise into a World Champion and potential dynasty. On top of that, many of the key players that make the Red Sox one of the American League favorites still have ties to Epstein. Let’s take a quick look at the players that were originally acquired by the Epstein regime.
The most obvious guy on this list is Dustin Pedroia, who is the longest-tenured Red Sox player and won a World Series with Epstein back in 2007. He was originally drafted by Boston back in 2004 and Epstein’s staff was responsible for selecting him out of college and developing him en route to the majors.
Although Epstein didn’t play as direct of a role with some of the other players on this list, he did play a role in acquiring many others in Boston’s current core. This team is currently led by Mookie Betts, who was part of the Red Sox’ now-famous 2011 draft. This, of course, was the last draft that was helmed by Epstein. Betts was selected in the fifth round of that draft. Also selected that year were: Matt Barnes, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley, Noe Ramirez and Travis Shaw. The latter, of course, isn’t with the organization anymore but he’s still worth mentioning because that draft class is bananas. Robby Scott wasn’t a part of that draft class, but he was signed as an undrafted free agent later that summer. Since Epstein left just a few months after that draft, he didn’t really play a direct role in developing their talents, but most of the people responsible were Epstein’s “guys.” But more on that in a minute.
Even beyond the 2011 draft, the Red Sox are still built up of a few other key players that were acquired before Epstein left. Xander Bogaerts is another member of their young core, and he was signed as an international free agent way back in 2009. One of the team’s greatest international signees ever, Bogaerts was a tremendous bargain at just $510,000. Christian Vazquez was another Epstein acquisition, as he was selected in the ninth round of the 2009 draft. Finally, Brandon Workman and Bryce Brentz were both parts of the 2010 draft class.
It’s not just the players that were directly acquired by the Theo Epstein-led front office that are having an impact on the Red Sox. There are still people in Boston’s front office that were originally brought on by Epstein and have a huge impact on how the Red Sox do business.
- Assistant GMs Brian O’Halloran and Eddie Romero both got their starts under Epstein.
- Bill James, the famous Father of Sabermetrics, was brought in as an advisor when Epstein first joined the Red Sox and remains in that role with the organization to this day.
- Zack Scott, the head of Boston’s research department, came into the organization in 2004.
- Ben Crockett, the head of the Red Sox minor-league development program, started with the Red Sox in 2007.
- Mike Rikard, Gus Quattlebaum, and Jared Banner team up to lead the scouting department, and they all came into the Red Sox organization under Epstein’s watch.
In short, pretty much every arm of the Red Sox front office outside of the actual GM chair is still controlled by people who were hired and mentored by Epstein.
His tenure with the team is now far in the past -- they’re on their second GM since he left — but Epstein remains an important figure in Red Sox history. Perhaps more importantly, he remains an important figure in the present-day Red Sox, as his fingerprints are still all over this organization.