After all the flair, pageantry, and obsession these Red Sox have shown over the past few years in regards to getting their story out there, now all of a sudden they've regressed to this, the Bill Belichick school of public relations?
In lieu of an official announcement, why not just send out copies of a crumpled napkin with the news that Theo Epstein will return as the "GM of the BRS?"
There will be no press conference this week to announce Epstein's grand return to the team he helped build into a World Series winner, a team source telling Dan Shaughnessy that the Red Sox plan to release a statement later today regarding Epstein's role within the franchise. It basically means that they don't know what his job is going to be beyond title, and can't waste their time and energy answering questions to which they have no answers.
This cowardly turn of events is all like following some awfully suffocating soap opera, one that you're spurred on to watch by the promise of an eventual resolution, which ends up landing with a thud in your lap mainly because the particulars involved don't know how to end it. "What's that? Duffy wants to come back? Ah, screw it. Put him in the shower and we'll sell it off as a dream."
This, mind you, is a team that would hold a media briefing to discuss Larry Lucchino's new cell phone if it so desired. Heck, this is a team that held a presser last offseason to announce the signing of John Freaking Halama.
And now, when we might finally hope to get some long-awaited answers to one of the most bizarre series of events in team history? Nada.
It is no less than a full-colored sketch illustration of the front office chaos that currently inhabits the building at 1 Yawkey Way, a place with more whys and hows than anything Plato put his name on.
The Theo saga has not only led to uncertainty in his own once and future role, but those of Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington, who may keep their co-GM titles, but not the power and cache (Jamie Chisholm's organizational flow chart is a riot) that came with them six weeks ago. John Henry insisted last week that Lucchino's role within the organization would not change, but here is Theo, returning to the team he said just months ago he could no longer work for without some form of restructuring. So, if nothing has changed, why is he coming back? And perhaps the most important question of all, why have the Sox not formally introduced prized free agent pickup Willie Harris?
Obviously, they simply do not know what everybody's role will end up being, a convenient way to avoid the ensured grilling each would receive at any press briefing to explain the ridiculous nature of the last three months. Why did Epstein leave? Where did he go? What did he do? Why did he leave? Who'd he hang out with? Why did he leave? Why did he come back and work behind the scenes? Why did he leave? Is the gorilla suit worth less now that he's back in the fold? And WHY DID HE LEAVE IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Oh, no, it wasn't a power struggle with Lucchino. Epstein told us that in his press conference the first week of November. So, what then? Did he need to get raises for Ben and Jed that badly? Or did he just want the winter off because Pearl Jam's tour schedule really put a crimp on making the winter meetings in Dallas? These are the questions that today's press release will answer about as well as your average interaction with Drew Rosenhaus.
And who might be forced to answer them? Coco Crisp? There's a way to introduce a young ballplayer to his new environment, having him receive his new number from Hoyer, only to have the latter be peppered with questions as to where Theo, John, and Larry could be found. Eventually Coco might get a query from someone, but it'd probably be along the lines of, "Can you believe the mess you've become a part of?"
In fact, let's not assume the Red Sox' willingness to finish the Crisp deal and Epstein's return aren't related in some way. Cleveland.com's Tribe Tracker says that a Boston media member went to the airwaves in Cleveland yesterday saying that the Red Sox leaked the Crisp trade story to the media in an attempt to speed the process along after so much stalling on the Indians' part. That apparently didn't make Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro too pleased that reports of a deal in principle had were popping up in every newspaper across the country.
"I don't even know what an agreement in principle is," he said yesterday. "There is no agreement."
Is it a matter of using Crisp as a shield in order to avoid scrutiny? Probably not, but the convenience in timing is still enough to make everything a bit suspicious. By delaying the inevitable onslaught of questions they are assured of receiving from the media, they're giving themselves time to work out their own legitimate flow chart design, one that will attempt to smoothly assume control of who calls what shots in the front office.
For a while at least. It's hard to imagine even a seemingly sound chain-of-command design not eventually breaking down within those walls, where power and ambition will eventually work their way into the mix even more than the slight cameo both made this winter.
Welcome to Boston, Coco. Now, are you a Theo guy or a Larry guy?