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Believe it or not, these are still Theo Epstein’s Red Sox

Theo Epstein is making the calls for the Chicago Cubs now, but his influence in Boston continues to be felt.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/file 2010

It’s not Dave Dombrowski. It’s not Ben Cherington, either. It’s not Mike Hazen. It’s not ownership. It’s certainly not Bill James.

None of the above.

No. This Red Sox team you have come to love early in the 2016 Boston baseball season — this team that looks like it might be a worst-to-first facsimile of the 2013 bearded wonders — was largely built by Theo Epstein.

He was the Camelot Kid from Brookline when he became general manager of the Red Sox at the age of 28 in November of 2002. He took charge of a roster assembled by Dan Duquette, made big bold deals, and got all the credit when the Sox won their first World Series in the biblical October of 2004.


Epstein won another championship for good measure in 2007, then walked after the furious Fenway flameout of October 2011.

Today Epstein is the hardball god of Chicago, overseeing the best team in baseball, hoping to do for the Cubs what he did for the Red Sox 12 years ago. The Cubs have not won a World Series in 108 years, and a championship at Wrigley Field would make Epstein a lock for Cooperstown.

He’d be the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the man who ended the two longest and most celebrated curses in baseball history. Theo could be the master tamer of the Bambino, the Billy Goat, and Bartman.

But while the Cubs are marching toward destiny (or abject disappointment), and the Red Sox have rediscovered their mojo at Fenway, it has conveniently escaped the attention of most folks that the 2016 Sox are still very much Theo’s team.

Mookie Betts, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr.? All drafted by Theo Epstein’s baseball operations department. Xander Bogaerts was an international free agent signee, brought on board by Theo. Non-prospect Travis Shaw? Theo again.


Theo also was the baseball godfather of an unlikely All-American from Arizona State named Dustin Pedroia. Oh, and we should remind you that Theo gets credit for David Ortiz, who was signed by the Sox after the Twins released Papi way back in 2002.

That’s seven of your nine everyday players. Sons of Theo. And it’s almost eight. Hanley Ramirez was originally signed by the Duquette Sox in 2000, but Theo protected him fiercely after taking over in 2002. It was only when Theo was on “sabbatical” (he temporarily quit after a spat with Larry Lucchino), touring with Pearl Jam in 2005, that the Sox reluctantly agreed to trade Ramirez to the Marlins in the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.

I could go on. Clay Buchholz was a Theo pick. Ditto for Blake Swihart, Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, and Noe Ramirez. Junichi Tazawa was signed as an international free agent in 2008 . . . by Theo Epstein.

Oh, and perhaps here we could mention that Red Sox manager John Farrell was hired as the big league pitching coach when Theo was GM back in 2007.

It’s impressive. Theo’s final draft as Sox GM yielded Betts, Bradley, Shaw, Swihart, Barnes, Owens, and Noe Ramirez. That’s seven players who have played for the Sox this season. That’s a bumper crop.

“I still follow the players we signed while I was there,’’ Epstein said before the Cubs started their playoff run last October.


Likewise, we follow the ex-Sox who now work for the Cubs. Jon Lester has an ERA of 1.88. John Lackey looks like the same guy who dominated the Cardinals for the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.

David Ross is on a Wrigley farewell tour, a clubhouse leader who can compare this year’s Cubs to the 2013 Sox.

Chicago’s slugging first baseman, Anthony Rizzo (drafted by Theo), was a top Sox prospect when he was dealt to the Padres in the trade that brought Adrian “The Cooler” Gonzalez to Boston for the ill-fated 2011 season. Theo has former Sox assistant Jed Hoyer serving as GM of the Cubs.

Folks in New England were angry when Theo left after the chicken-and-beer collapse of 2011. Terry Francona lost his job as manager. Theo was blamed for letting things get out of control and fast-talking them into deals for the expensive Gonzalez and colossal flop Carl Crawford. Poor Ben Cherington wasn’t allowed to name his own field manager and spent four years trying to protect the guys he and Theo had drafted.

Five years have passed. A lot of water under the Mass. Ave. Bridge. Now Theo’s Cubs look bound for the World Series and the wildly entertaining Red Sox are again banging on the door of contention and relevance.

And both teams are largely the creation of the same man.

Not Dave Dombrowski.

Not Ben Cherington.

Theo Epstein.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy.