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“Epstein Errors”–Crawford & Lackey–Budget Albatross Until 2018


The “Epstein Errors” will be a drag on the Sox budget until 2017 and the worst years will be 2012 through 2014, when the Lackey and Crawford salaries are both due.

In sum, from 2012 through 2014, the combined salaries will drain off a full 20% of the total Boston budget of $173 million; then, once Lackey is off the dole, things get better with Crawford taking 11-12% of the Red Sox Penny-Pinch Piñata.

[Worksheet provided for MIT students and Number Nuts at the bottom.]

In a recent interview with WEEI’s Alex Speier, former Boston GM Theo Epstein essentially admitted that the FA largesse in his last two years created this budget drain, which was caused by a deviation from the team’s “baseball philosophy.”

Had we been completely true to our baseball philosophy that we set out and believed in and followed, we probably wouldn’t have made certain moves that we made anyway, moves that, as I look back on them, they were probably moves too much of convenience, of placating elements that shouldn’t have been important…Those were my mistakes, and because of that the last couple of years weren’t as successful as the previous seven or so.”

In Cowboy English: We wanted to build a team nucleus from home-grown players and only spend a small amount on FAs, as needed to supplement that [inexpensive] core, but, we overspent on FAs, during the last two years. [READ: Lackey and Crawford]

Despite these two potentially disastrous FA contracts, Epstein gives himself an A- for his tenure as Red Sox GM and is optimistic that the team will overcome this budget albatross and succeed in years to come.

“I think an objective look at the 10 years we had there showed some things that are not really up for dispute,” said Epstein. I think we did a great job drafting, great job developing players, we did a nice job in trades, we did a pretty nice job on buy-low free agents, and then we had a very spotty track record with higher profile free agents. That’s just the fact of it.

“The organization’s actually in really good long-term shape. With all those pluses and minuses factored in, I don’t think it’s a surprise to see what you get. The farm system, the young players coming on the roster, those who have been part of the core and are wrapped up on longer deals, thats a product of 10 years of being far from perfect but doing a pretty good job in scouting and player development.

Some of the bigger names that have underperformed are a product of missing on big-name free agents. It is what it is. People will interpret that however they want, but I think there’s a lot to be proud of, all the people who were involved over the last decade, to take a step back and look at what we accomplished.”[]

Think: better in 2015 and much better in 2018.

Top Three in MLB in 2012:

198 million [Yanks]
175 million [Phillies]
173 million [Red Sox]
[rounded off totals]

2012 15,250,000
2013 15,250,000
2014 $15,250,000
2015 *$500,000$500k Vesting Option

2012 19,500,000
2013 20,000,000
2014 20,250,000
2015 20,250,000
2016 20,750,000
2017 21,000,000
2018 FA

Lackey and Crawford

2012 15,250,000 + 19,500,000 = 34,750,000 = 20% of total budget
2013 15,250,000 + 20,000,000 = 35,250,000 = 20% of total budget
2014 15,250,000 + 20,250,000 = 35,500,000 = 21% of total budget


2015 20,250,000 = 11.7% of total budget
2016 20,750,000 = 11.9% of total budget
2016 20,750,000 = 11.9% of total budget
2017 21,000,000 = 12.1% of total budget
[NOTE: percentages are based on the assumption that the current budget ($173,000) will vary very little from 2012 to 2017.]

[NOTE: Send any math errors directly to Mr. Nash’s personal Japanese attorney:]