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Theo Epstein on D&C: ‘No villains’ in Red Sox management

06.14.12 at 10:52 am ET

Theo Epstein joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday to talk about his time with the Red Sox, including his relationship with ownership and the difficulties of being a big market general manager.

As Red Sox GM, Epstein brought in John Lackey and Carl Crawford at a significant cost as free agents. When asked if he was pressured to do so by the team’s business interests, he waved off the notion.

“There are no villains here,” Epstein said. “It’s the reality of what happens in a big market, especially when you win, especially when there’s incredible performance on the field as well as off the field and things get bigger and bigger. … I always had a concern about it getting too big and when it starts to grow and it stars to become insatiable it becomes hard to take a reasonable long-term approach on the field and off the field.”

Despite not feeling pressure from ownership, Epstein wasn’t always perfect at handling his own pressure.

“If anything I blame myself,” he said. “At the end it certainly became too big. I didn’t do a good enough job of managing that tension, managing the reality of being a big market team when things start to fall off a little bit, which is natural. I certainly should have executed in big name free agency.”

He added later: “I finally gave into the [tension]. I started executing moves that gave into it and were a little more convenient and that is a lot of the reason I wanted to move on. … After ten years it’s hard to attack things from a fresh perspective. It’s hard to be as adamant about your philosophy as you are at the beginning.”

Many people believe that the Red Sox keep their players in the minors longer than other organizations and the former Red Sox GM offered up an explanation to why that may be the case.

“You want to focus on the player’s overall development. There has to be certain criteria for the advancement of the player. The goal should be to fully develop the player so he’s actually ready to play in the big leagues, not just that he’s capable of coming up and not embarrassing himself in the big leagues. It is especially important in a competitive place like Boston, where you actually want to develop a player, in an ideal world, to be ready to come up and step right into a pennant race and perform.”

Epstein was general manager when the Red Sox won the World Series in ’07 and it has a special place in his mind.

“The ’07 [Red Sox] team was the most meaningful part of the whole experience for the guys in baseball operations,” he said. “To have [Jonathan] Papelbon close it out, have [Dustin] Pedroia, [Jacoby] Ellsbury and all those guys and to have Jon Lester start the deciding game, that was meaningful for everybody.”

Epstein admitted that he enjoyed homegrown talent, but understood the reality involved with it.

“What I think I enjoy most when I think of pure baseball is developing from within,” the Cubs GM said. “The reality is that I think it would be very difficult to take it to it to that kind of extreme in [fielding a completely homegrown team].”

Epstein added: “There’s always going to be a bit of a dichotomy between how you handle the present, sell tickets, boost ratings versus how you plan for the future, ensuring there are better days ahead.”

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