As the late-season collapse of the Boston Red Sox moves the team closer and closer to missing the postseason, the finger-pointing has begun in earnest. And Boston general manager Theo Epstein, who failed to significantly upgrade the roster before the trade deadline, is taking the brunt of the blame.
"I'll take all the blame if need be," said Epstein. "But we're still in contention and I still believe this team has enough talent to at least secure a wild card."
Yet the fact remains that the team Epstein built contains only 13 present or former All-Stars — Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, John Lackey, Jon Lester, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and Kevin Youkilis — and not a single additional All-Star or MVP candidate was added at the July or August deadline.
"It's easy to look back now and think that I should have acquired Albert Pujols or Felix Hernandez or both of them — and that's probably what we'll do in the offseason — but it's tricky if you have too many future Hall of Famers on a team at once," said Epstein. "People think it's really easy to run a team that just buys all of the best players. But it's not. Imagine what it's like to look a David Ortiz in the face and tell him that he's only a pinch hitter now because we added someone better than him."
Yet many Red Sox fans feel Epstein was too content to just run nine All-Stars out onto the field every night with only four more in reserve on the bench.
"Thirteen guys can't carry a team all season," said one Boston sports radio caller. "Theo got lazy from success early in his career and now he's content to just throw a team of a dozen or so stars onto the field every day and take his chances. It's sad how far the guy has fallen."
But Epstein isn't the only member of the organization who has come under fire. Manager Terry Francona has also taken shots.
"I'm doing my best every day," says Francona. "I just wish I knew the best order in which to write my All-Stars into the lineup everyday. It can be very confusing."