We don’t know if the Red Sox will complete the choke, but they’ve already blown it.
And while Epstein isn’t to blame for the choke per se, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Cashman and (especially) Friedman have been running rings around him for a couple years. This has partly been luck both ways — Garcia and Colon were both good cheap gambles, but between them they had been simultaneously good and healthy exactly zero times in the previous four seasons, and I’m sure even Cashman would concede that they didn’t expect 300 quality innings from them. And while Crawford and
Gingrich Lackey were bad contracts, there was no reason to expect them to implode like they have in the short term. Lackey was a consistently good pitcher with consistently good K rates, and last year pitched in bad luck that has gotten even worse. I don’t understand what the Red Sox were doing with Crawford, but there was no reason to expect him to immediately veer into Wells/Bay territory. Not only has he hit nothing, the defense and baserunning that figured to give him an acceptable floor have completely deteriorated. Before writing him off it should be remembered that after 2010 most Sox fans wanted Ellsbury’s head on a pointed stick — talent can be resilient — but it could be a historically bad contract. In addition to the failed big tickets, Epstein hasn’t been able to make the little moves to provide depth; when Drew very predictably reached the end of the line he wasn’t backed up with anyone who should be playing a corner OF slot for a contending team. They still might hold on, but however it turns out the Rays have done a lot more with far less.