30 September 2011

Boston is Making a Mistake Dumping Terry Francona

Just days after the Boston Red Sox completed one of the greatest September collpases ever, the club has decided to part ways with manager Terry Francona. This comes only a few days after general manager Theo Epstein exonerated Francona for fault of the epic collapse and even said this,
"I don't think we believe in  -- I know we don't believe in --  scapegoats and in particular no one blames Tito for what happened in September."
Epstein was absolutely right, no one should be making Francona the scapegoat but then he pulled a George McGovern and made him the scapegoat unjustly. And Epstein will come to regret that decision.
As usual, one guy is taking the fall so to cover anyone's one ass, in this case Epstein's. The team's terrible depth got exposed in September when the rotation started to falter and the bullpen became overworked. A team in a pennant race fighting for their playoff lives should not be starting scrubs like Kyle Weiland. A team fighting for their playoff lives should not be forced to continually starting John Lackey when he has previously proved ineffective. A team should not be forced to try a last minute deal to acquire Bruce Chen from the Kansas City Royals to potentially start a one-game-playoff (I know Chen has been solid all year but when you are relying on Chen to make the playoffs, you are not in good shape). And especially not a team with the third highest payroll in baseball, as well as the fact that the solid Kevin Millwood was already with the team in AAA but when they decided they didn't need him, he signed with Colorado and gave that team what Boston desperately needed, quality innings. And in that regard, Epstein failed and deserves a nice chunk of the blame, as well for the big bust that was Carl Crawford, an acquisition that was supposed to put the Red Sox over the top.
Now this is certainly not to say that Francona is devoid of blame. There was no excuse for a team to completely fall into a tailspin (great show BTW) when a month prior were playing like the best team in the Junior Circuit. The team showed no motivation and looked like they had already given up on the season and were ready for the golf course while fighting to fend off the Tampa Bay Rays. That is where Francona deserves his fair share of the blame, as well as for the pitchers drinking brewskis in the bullpen.
But Francona should not have been dismissed, or his option not be picked up or whatever the official word is.  This is a guy who brought the city of Boston two World Series titles in his eight year tenure when no one else had done it in 86 years. He is one of the best managers in all of baseball and is widely thought of to be as one by pretty much everyone in baseball. There is no doubt he will get another job, likely in Chicago for the White Sox, where he was the AA coach of Michael Jordan, or for the Cubs if they fire Mike Quade and hope Francona can cure another, even longer drought.
What makes me dislike this decision by the Red Sox brass is that they will look bad if they don't get somebody as good as Francona. Do they really want to potentially go back to the Kevin Kennedy, Jimy Williams, Grady Little days where the team seemed to come up small in big moments every time?

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