Franc Talk

After another bad loss for the Sox, and one exacerbated by a NY victory, Red Sox Nation will assuredly be wondering about the status of Terry Francona. Putting aside all of the petty—and not petty—arguments about decisions made or not made, there are a few salient facts that bear review:

-The Sox have the top era in the AL
-They are 4th in the AL in scoring
-They are now 8 games back in the division, and .5 back in the wild card

These facts alone would indicate a certain level of underachievement, though you could also argue that:

-They are 9 games over .500
-They are the 4th best team in the AL
-They have been beset by injury
-The era is skewed by the numbers of Pedro and Schilling

Will a trade bring new blood and change their fortunes? Will Francona’s future be determined by the coming series with NY? Should be an interesting week.

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  • Don’t forget to add:
    They make tons of errors
    The bullpen is totally overworked
    They don’t run, bunt, or manufacture runs at all well.
    These three things tend to be influenced by strategy and discipline, both under the purview of the manager. Terry has major flaws that the stats you cite do not really reveal.

    SF July 22, 2004, 7:11 am
  • They make a lot of errors, but is that sloppy play or the result of an institutional decision to take on players with weak defensive skills. Is the bullpen overworked because of the failure of so much of the starting rotation (again, we might call this an institutional problem), and the policy against small ball is also clearly something that’s coming down from the top. So you may call these major flaws, and you may be right—you’ve seen a lot more of the Sox—but I wonder if you’re shooting the messenger here.

    YF July 22, 2004, 9:48 am
  • I had a lot of discussions with many Sox fans this weekend about some of these issues. Many, inlcuding several elder fans who have been through numerous managers, detest Francona, while still allowing that the organization has made decisions that override some of his authority. It was surprising – the most common sentiment was that Francona is simply gutless – he doesn’t hold the players accountable for their actions, he doesn’t ask for discipline just as he himself refuses to enact any disciplinary moves when players screw up or ask for extended sun-drenched all-star breaks. He may be a lackey, but my fellow fans are appalled by how bad a lackey he is. And these guys have seen far more Sox teams than I have.
    The Red Sox make lots of errors, but they were not assembled without disregard for defense, so I take exception to that characterization. Their outfield (Manny has played an average outfield this year, quite an improvement) is reasonable, their infield has been quite injured and has holes even when healthy, but it isn’t a Triple-A squad and it has played like one. The worst thing about the Red Sox’ errors are not the physical ones, but the mental ones, and there have been plenty. Tonight’s first inning against the Yankees is a perfect example, Sheffield’s popup that dropped in, Lofton’s legging out a double on Damon’s laziness. Those are about focus and discipline, two things the Sox have been sorely lacking this season and which come from the top, Francona, down.
    Other issues: their bullpen is most definitely overworked due to the failings of Lowe and Wakefield, primarily. It has also been hurt badly due to the loss of Williamson and also because of mismanagement by Francona – lots of times when their better relievers pitch an extra inning in a foregone game, jacking up appearances. Theo is certainly not exempt – he needs to pick up a middle reliever and soon, a guy who can help re-build the bridge to Foulke, and if he doesn’t he shares in the failures. But Francona is the point man, and he’s done, to this point, a pitiful job at shouldering the burden.

    SF July 25, 2004, 9:30 pm