Bernfield: Red Sox good example of sustaining success

When Theo Epstein built the Boston Red Sox into the 2004 World Series champions in his second year as general manager, the "Curse of the Bambino," which famously plagued New England's baseball team for 86 years, finally was over.

The architect of the Red Sox's first title win in the modern era, Epstein already had secured free meals and hero status in Boston for the rest of his life.

But that World Series victory symbolized more than a nice story.

It marked the beginning of the Red Sox's transformation into a baseball powerhouse. Boston has won at least 90 games six times since that first title, made the playoffs four times, and won the World Series again in 2007 and 2013.

Both of the last two Red Sox title teams were constructed with players Epstein acquired, drafted and developed. He turned the Red Sox into a sustainable winner by constantly replenishing their talent pool, and that legacy continues.

Boston currently leads the American League wild-card race and has baseball's best offense. Though it has been five years since Epstein left for Chicago, 11 of the 25 regular contributors on Boston's roster - almost half the team - were either drafted or acquired by him.

David Ortiz has anchored the middle of the Red Sox's lineup since Epstein signed him as a free agent in his first season on the job. Big Papi will go down as one of the greatest Red Sox in franchise history when he retires at season's end.

Young hitting stars Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts topped the majors this season with 29- and 26-game hitting streaks, respectively. Epstein signed Bogaerts as an amateur free agent out of Aruba in 2009 and drafted Bradley in 2011 with the 40th pick in the first round.

Mookie Betts, Epstein's fifth-round pick in 2011, represents another key part of Boston's future. Entering Saturday's action, the outfielder had the second-highest WAR among position players (3.3), per ESPN.

Don't forget that second baseman Dustin Pedroia, the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year and the 2008 AL MVP, was Epstein's second-round pick in 2004. He was an integral part of their last two championship teams and is one of their most beloved players in the last decade.

In Chicago, Epstein has done just what he did in Boston, collected a remarkable first wave of talent.

His first three drafts produced Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and recently promoted Albert Almora in just the first round. The Scott Feldman trade brought Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Epstein flipped Jeff Samardzija for Addison Russell and Ryan Dempster for Kyle Hendricks.

Those who fear the Cubs have a two-year window to win should look to Epstein's accomplishments and legacy in Boston. He knows how to identify elite talent. The first class of Cubs prospects filling up this roster has the best record in baseball, and a new wave is coming.

There will be another wave after that, and yet another.

The Cubs lead baseball now and will continue to do so for years to come.

• Jordan Bernfield is an anchor and co-host of "Inside The Clubhouse" on WSCR 670-AM The Score. He also works as a play-by-play broadcaster for ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@JordanBernfield.

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