Theo Epstein’s Steroid Problem

Theo Epstein’s Steroid ProblemKnowing what we know about Eric Gagne, his horrible pitching record, his clear inability to pitch under Fenway pressure, and now his steroid use as detailed in the Mitchell report, WTF was in Theo Epstein’s head when he acquired the reliever with weird glasses?

On November 1, 2006, Epstein emailed his scout, Mark Delpiano, “Have you done any digging on Gagne? I know the Dodgers think he was a steroid guy. Maybe so. What do you hear on his medical?”

Delpiano replied:
Eric Gagne, not celebrating

Some digging on Gagne and steroids IS the issue. Has had a checkered medical past throughout career including minor leagues. Lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy, maintain body and re invent self. What made him a tenacious closer was the max effort plus stuff . . . Mentality without the plus weapons and without steroid help probably creates a large risk in bounce back durability and ability to throw average while allowing the changeup to play as it once did . . . Personally, durability (or lack of) will follow Gagne . . .

Right there! Epstein’s own scout told him Gagne was soft, that he “lacks the poise and commitment to stay healthy”. Now, why would Epstein, putting the steroid issue to the side for a moment, take a chance on Gagne, giving up major league pitcher Kason Gabbard and outfield prospects David Murphy and Engle Beltre. That was the trade of a crazy person!

Unfortunately, the craziness didn’t end there. The Red Sox also signed the free agent and suspected juicer, Brendan Donnelly; that is, the Red Sox themselves suspected him of being a juicer before they signed him, but did it anyhow. From the Mitchell report:

In considering whether to trade for Donnelly in 2007, Red Sox baseball operations personnel internally discussed concerns that Donnelly was using performance enhancing substances. In an email to vice president of player personnel Ben Charington dated December 13, 2006, Zack Scott of the Red Sox baseball operations staff wrote of Donnelly: “He was a juice guy but his velocity hasn’t changed a lot over the years . . . If he was a juice guy, he could be a breakdown candidate.”427 Kyle Evans of the baseball operations staff agreed with these concerns, responding in an email that “I haven’t heard many good things about him, w[ith] significant steroid rumors.”

Theo should be made to wear his gorilla suit in the office for a week, after these revelations. It’s one thing to make decisions blindly, without information, but Epstein’s staff was giving him information that players he coveted, both of whom turned into busts, were juicers.