Alex Speier has a great interview up with Theo Epstein over at WEEI today. In it Epstein talks candidly about what went wrong towards the end in Boston. Specifically, how a team that was built into a success with player development and home grown talent got into the business of signing people like John Lackey and Carl Crawford to mega deals.
Espstein says that success builds a “new baseline” and that they were always trying to do more. Which, in turn, caused the team — and he includes himself and everyone in the organization — to lose its way and forget its principles:
“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,” said Epstein. “Those were my mistakes, and because of that the last couple of years weren’t as successful as the previous seven or so.”
Great interview, not just for what Epstein says, but for how Speier describes and characterizes them. He’s one of the best in the business.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.