Theo Epstein says the only possible thing he can say about those Cubs rumors

9 Comments

If you’re Theo Epstein, there is absolutely no winning when it comes to answering questions about his job right now.

Sure, the Cubs would love to have him. Anyone would.  But Epstein is running the Red Sox right now so if he even hints that he’s interested in the job, it’s going to be a monstrous distraction.  Likewise, if he shuts the door with a slam, saying unequivocally that he does not want has never wanted and will never want to be the Cubs GM and that anyone who suggests otherwise can take a flying eff at a rolling donut, then he’s just being rude. And, of course, if he really would like the job, he’s hurting himself.

So it’s really a timing problem. Because he’s Theo Epstein and because Theo Epstein rarely if ever says anything that fans flames, any question on the subject of the Cubs’ job now is going to lead to a non-answer which strongly suggests that he’s a Red Sox for life without actually saying that and leaving the hint of a possibility open that he could bolt if need be.  And he was asked that yesterday. And he gave exactly that sort of answer:

“I try to avoid commenting on things that are so speculative. I know there are a couple of articles which have appeared but I’m completely focused on the Red Sox of 2011 first and foremost and what potentially lies ahead for this club. We’re trying to get to the postseason and win the World Series and I spend all my time working with my staff to make this the organization we want it to be for now and in the future. That’s where my exclusive focus is.”

And of course the reporters kept asking, so he said “Something like that I can’t even contemplate it long enough to comment on it. I’m all Red Sox, all the time.”

So one takeaway from that could be “THEO DOESN’T DENY INTEREST IN CUBS JOB!” which I bet gets played up on talk radio today if it hasn’t already.

Another, more reasonable take would be to say “there’s really nothing to be gained by getting quotes from Theo Epstein on this subject before the Sox’ season is over.”

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.