Theo Epstein: Boston Red Sox Still Contenders In ‘Wide Open’ AL East

Theo EpsteinTheo Epstein doesn’t think it’s time for the Boston Red Sox to become sellers.

Epstein, the former general manager of the Red Sox now serving as the Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations, has faith in his former club to stay competitive this season despite a tumultuous first half.

“(Selling pieces) would be a tough thing to do at any point, because the reality of it would mean it would have been a disappointing season up until that point,” Epstein said Monday on WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan.” “I don’t think they’re there. If you look at the American League East, nobody is running away with the division. … It’s wide open and there’s still a lot of talent in Boston.”

Current Red Sox GM Ben Cherington indicated over the weekend in New York that his focus remains on improving Boston for 2014. Cherington acknowledged that things could change before the July 31 trade deadline, though, and Epstein finds that open-mindedness to be one of his former co-worker’s strengths.

“(Selling) would be an incredibly hard thing to do, but I think one of Ben’s strengths is realism,” Epstein said. “ … I doubt it ever gets to that point — I hope it doesn’t — but no matter the situation, I think Ben will take a very pragmatic approach and do the right thing for the club and for the fans and the big picture.”

Epstein, of course, helped the Red Sox win two World Series titles as GM before leaving for Chicago following Boston’s 2011 collapse. Cherington took the reins and immediately enjoyed success, winning a championship in just his second season at the helm in 2013.

The Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908, have yet to flourish under Epstein’s regime. Epstein thinks Chicago is on the cusp of big things, though, even if 2014 eventually becomes another lost season.

“Bigger picture, the talent level and the health of the (Cubs) organization is really coming around,” Epstein said. “ … We’re kind of in that mode where, in the next year or two, we’re set to explode as an organization.”

The Red Sox and Cubs are squaring off in a three-game series this week at Fenway Park. Boston entered the set with a 38-44 record, while Chicago arrived with a 34-46 mark.

Click for Epstein’s full interview >>

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