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Rockies find admirer in Epstein

Rockies find admirer in Epstein

BOSTON -- Who better to discern why the Rockies have come on like gangbusters in the National League this season than Theo Epstein, the Red Sox general manager, who cut his baseball teeth for five years in the Padres front office, ending in 2001.

The mostly home-grown Rox come into Wednesday night's Game 1 of the World Series against the Red Sox having won 21 of their last 22 games, dating back to Sept. 16. Their first World Series visit comes at the end of the 15th year of the franchise's existence.

"I think it's a magical run," said Epstein during the course of Tuesday's pre-Series workouts at Fenway Park. "It's almost unheard of in baseball at any time, let alone the most important time of the year against some of the best teams in baseball. It's jaw-dropping. You can only hope that we can be the ones to end it. But even that can never take away from what they've accomplished so far."

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Epstein was head of baseball operations in San Diego under incumbent general manager Kevin Towers in 2001 when he noticed that the Rockies were beginning to stock their Minor League system with talent that, if allowed to develop, might eventually have a profound effect at the Major League level.

Of the current regular eight that manager Clint Hurdle puts on the field under National League rules every day, only center fielder Willy Taveras, catcher Yorvit Torrealba and second baseman Kaz Matsui aren't home grown.

"We've known for a long time that they've had a good farm system," Epstein said. "Then, the last two years, those guys began to find their way on to the big league roster. It takes time. If you're going to do it that way, you have to be patient. It's a credit to their ownership that they were really patient with the whole situation there. It's paid dividends for them, and they've finally put it all together in the second half."

In some markets, management can afford to have patience, while in others, such is not the case. It should be pointed out that this World Series again marks the ultimate in the swing of baseball's economic pendulum: the $143 million player payroll Red Sox against the $54.4 million payroll Rockies.

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In fact, three of the four teams that made it to the League Championship Series this postseason were in baseball's bottom payroll quadrant.

"There's always one case," said Epstein, whose club owns the second-highest payroll in baseball, behind the Yankees. "There's more than way to skin the cat. Obviously, if you're going to commit to a full youth movement, doing it almost exclusively from within your own system, then you have to be patient because it can be cyclical. You don't develop a farm system overnight. It takes four or five years.

"Look at the players the Rockies have. They've gotten better the last few years by playing every day in the big leagues on teams that were out of it. But now, they've put it all together and are in the World Series. They certainly deserve it."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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