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Book: Epstein felt pressure to sign 'sexy guys'

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NEW YORK -- Theo Epstein traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford following pressure from Boston Red Sox owners to build a "sexy team," according to a book co-authored by former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Epstein, who left as general manager after the 2011 season to become a Chicago Cubs executive, said Boston owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino made the team's image a priority, according to excerpts released Tuesday by Sports Illustrated.

Francona: The Red Sox Years is co-written by the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy and is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on Jan. 22.

"They told us we didn't have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle," Epstein is quoted as saying. "We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We'd become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be."

On Nov. 2, 2010, a group gathered at Fenway Park to review results of that $100,000 marketing research project the Red Sox had commissioned following declining ratings of NESN, the regional sports network partly owned by the team.

The books stated the marketing report said: "(W)omen are definitely more drawn to the 'soap opera' and 'reality-TV' aspects of the game ... They are interested in good-looking stars and sex symbols" -- a reference to All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Gonzalez and Crawford were traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer along with Josh Beckett after the Red Sox fell out of contention.

Francona left after the 2011 season, when the Red Sox lost 20 of their last 27 games, becoming the first team to lead by nine games in September and not make the post-season. He worked for ESPN in 2012. Cleveland hired him in October as its manager.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2013 C4

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