Friday, August 01 2003 @ 09:56 AM EDT

Contributed by: Coach

There's a lot of Theo "Luke Skywalker" Epstein and George "Darth Vader" Steinbrenner talk in the Big Apple press this morning. On, Adrian Wojnarowski (whose day job is with The Record in New Jersey) has penned a glowing tribute to the Red Sox GM:

With the Red Sox back just 2 games now and leading for the AL Wild Card, the message is unmistakable in Boston now: They're going for it. They're going for everything. What's more, Epstein hasn't had to sell out the Red Sox tomorrow for today, protecting most of his top prospects in trades for arms. His confidence is growing with every move, every bold stroke. As it turned out, Epstein isn't before his time at 29 now. His body of work insists he's right on cue.

Has the wunderkind done enough? Can the young Jedi defeat the Evil Empire?

In Newsday, Jon Heyman says "If deadline deals decide the division, Boston, which targeted real needs, finally will prevail." He also suggests that the Aaron Boone acquisition was pre-emptive (the Boss feared Boston would flip him to Seattle for Freddy Garcia) and that the internal bickering in the Yankees organization is leading to dumb decisions:

To have surrendered their best prospect, poised lefthander Brandon Claussen, and have left themselves with few long-term starting options to counter starters who might age or leave faster than they suspect -- not to mention a questionable bullpen and no palatable rightfield answer -- is unthinkable. A team with a $182-million payroll and an uncontrollable hunger to spend more should not have such liabilities.

You gotta feel for Brian Cashman, a really good guy who knows how to deliver a winner if left alone. He deserves better than the ravings of Furious George, yet he'll probably get the axe, along with Torre, if his team doesn't win the big prize. That's simply ridiculous. With our local squad now at .500 and preparing to play spoiler in the AL West, I find myself rooting for the Red Sox to win the division, and it would be even sweeter if the Yankees lose the wild card on the final day.

I presume Epstein "chose" Suppan over Escobar (and the Giants "chose" Ponson) because of J.P.'s asking price for Kelvim. Suppan's better than Mendoza, so he'll help. The Kim and Williamson deals will have more impact on the race -- Benitez and Orosco might be factors in their own way -- and Theo deserves a lot of credit for adding Ortiz, Millar and Mueller before the season. There have been moves that didn't work out, like Mendoza, Little G and Fox, but the kid's the obvious Rookie of the Year in baseball's front offices, and he's put himself in a position to be MVP.