Trask Talk: Epstein, only 42, already HOF caliber


Quinn Trask, Spear Producer

When you think of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, a surplus of players come to mind. Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Nolan Ryan, all the great players. Players, not GMs or Owners.  Not surprisingly because the players actually play the game, but some, (not many,) front office guys are so gifted and remarkable. Some absolutely deserve a spot in Cooperstown and all the recognition that comes with it.

Theo Epstein deserves all that and more. Epstein, just 42, is currently the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. Many will see “Chicago Cubs” and think of over 100 years of losing seasons and heartbreak. They think of controversies like Steve Bartman and the black cat running across the field at Shea Stadium before their collapse in 1969 to the “Miracle Mets”. They think of curses like the “The Curse of the Billy Goat” and the now trending “Murphy’s Law” curse.

If you know anything about Epstein, it is that “curses” are nothing but child’s play to him. When he was named the GM of the Boston Red Sox after the 2002 season, he became the youngest at his position in MLB history. He was only 28. Fans were skeptical, as he was younger than some players and he was now captain of the ship, but his critics were quickly silenced when he broke the 86 year “Curse of the Bambino” after only his second season. Not only was he 30 when he broke the curse, he was 33 when he brought home his second pennant in 2007.

Critics can claim that it was the “magic” of David Ortiz that brought the team together in 2004 when they were down 3-0 in the ALCS versus the rival New York Yankees. Ortiz brought the Red Sox on an eight game win streak that completed the comeback against the Yankees and the sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Ortiz had many memorable moments that postseason including his walk-off homerun in Game 4 of the ALCS, his walk-off single in Game 5 and his 3 run homerun in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series. It is undeniable that Ortiz was a crucial factor in their somewhat miraculous 2004 run, but who took the chance on the free agent, injury ridden first baseman that nobody would trade for? Theo Epstein did.

When Epstein left Boston after the 2011 season, he took his talents to Chicago where he currently resides. As President of Baseball Operations, Epstein has not had quite the quick winning magic, but the scenarios that he has inherited are much different. When he took on the Red Sox after 2002, no turn around was necessary. The Sox had won 93 games the previous season and all the pieces were in place except a crucial few, like Ortiz and pitcher Curt Schilling. In Chicago, he has had to draft many of his crucial players and develop them. He has done a splendid job of drafting and developing young talent and his seeds are now blossoming. He drafted Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez. He also traded for shortstop Addison Russell and developed him into a potential All Star.

Either way, at both clubs he has been extremely successful and might go down in history as the best “front office guy” ever. If you read my last column, you know that I firmly believe that a championship is coming to Wrigley in the near future. After breaking the “Curse of the Bambino” in Boston and eventually breaking the “Curse of the Billy Goat” in Chicago, Epstein will go down as one of the greats. When he retires many years from now, he will deserve nothing less than his plaque, next to all of baseball’s legends like himself, in Cooperstown.