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   101. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:48 PM (#3925705)
a) There have been (IMO) very few egregious before-the-fact moments.

I disagree on this point. I think critics have been very fair in that they've only been pointing to games where, while it was happening, it seemed obvious the starter was gassed.

I am with Hugh - trying to stay positive.


I have a hard time keeping up with Hugh. After the 18-7 blowout, he told me had NEVER WAVERED in his certainty. The next day, he was "trying to stay positive." Very confusing.

Here's something that I find a bit maddening about this management team: they always seem to decide that the right time for a player to come back from injury is juuuusttt after the team could really use him. Beckett, for example, is going to pitch game 2 of this series. If he came back for game 1, we could skip Weiland. Bedard also looks like he'll pitch the DH on Monday. Could he not possibly be back 1 day earlier and pitch against the Rays?

I seem to recall them doing this a lot of times in the past, including a couple years ago when Schilling was pitching a no-hitter in his 3rd or 4th rehab start while the MLB team was sending out some AAAA guy.

Edit: What? We're not allowed to criticize Francona?
   102. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2011 at 02:56 PM (#3925717)
Here's something that I find a bit maddening about this management team: they always seem to decide that the right time for a player to come back from injury is juuuusttt after the team could really use him. Beckett, for example, is going to pitch game 2 of this series. If he came back for game 1, we could skip Weiland. Bedard also looks like he'll pitch the DH on Monday. Could he not possibly be back 1 day earlier and pitch against the Rays?


I suspect some of this is selective memory. But also Beckett made his side session on Monday, it's possible, even probable that the club, medical team and Beckett made an informed decision that the extra 24 hours would be useful.

Also, and I don't know the answer to this, but how much notice do these guys need when they prep for a start? Was it a case that after the Monday session Beckett said "I can go Friday, but maybe Thursday if you give me 24/48 hours" and the club decided it would have a negative effect on other starters so just setting the rotation was the best plan? Like I said, I don't know the answer to that.
   103. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:04 PM (#3925736)
Edit: What? We're not allowed to criticize Francona?

:-)
   104. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:08 PM (#3925745)
I know all of the answers, so I feel comfortable making broad, sweeping statements. To wit, I know everything and Tito is a dummy.

a) There have been (IMO) very few egregious before-the-fact moments.
b) Francona has a very good track record.
c) He and his coaches know their pitchers a heck of a lot better than any of you.


Getting back to this, c) really shuts down any and all discussion, whether it be positive or negative. For b), I'd like to see a good argument that the coaching staff has a strong enough record with pitchers that we should give them the benefit of the doubt.* Without getting into a detailed study of it, it seems like an inordinate number of guys come to the Red Sox as good pitchers (on big contracts in many cases) and then fall well short of expectations. Many of them seem to leave the Sox and have success elsewhere.

Edit: Keeping players healthy also does not seem to be a strength.

(*"2004 and 2007!!!!1111one" is not a good argument.)
   105. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 03:10 PM (#3925747)
Getting back to this, c) really shuts down any and all discussion, whether it be positive or negative.

Yeah, I get that. Kind of a wet blanket for a discussion amongst fans, which is all this is. Your point on b) above is a very good one, I think.
   106. Joel W Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:17 PM (#3925851)
As a general Tito supporter, I think he's made a bunch of questionable decisions. His hooks have slowed in a way that demonstrates that perhaps he doesn't know his starters all that well. The Wakefield situation has been particularly egregious. Wake has 80 pitches in him. You know it, I know it, the numbers know it, ####, Wake probably knew it. We all know it. If Tito, understandably, was fallible due to his desire to get Wake his 200th win especially as it looked like the Red Sox were cruising to at least a playoff spot, then he could have gotten creative a bit. For example, have Aceves start the game for 3 innings and then have Wake pitch innings 4-7, allowing him to pitch under 5 innings and get the win. I don't blame him for the crapitude of his other starters, but still. Even w/ Lester I feel like he's let him labor too long when we could all see the signs. If they Sox make the playoffs, and it doesn't change, we're all going to have a collective 2nd Grady Little moment.

His reliance on Bard and Papelbon in 4 run games was quite frustrating at times, especially as Bard looks gassed. I think he's done basically a good job with the lineup, juggling a number of injuries, player failings (Crawfod), left/right balance, Reddick/Drew. I think this has always been where he shined.

Mostly, in the midst of a really rocky season, where the Sox started of 2-10, then blazed to the front, and are now trying to hang on for dear life amidst a rash of injuries over which he had some, but little control, and I think he's done a good job keeping an even keel, as he usually does. Normally I think Tito is an A- manager, and this year I think he's been more like a B. The Red Sox have the 3rd best run differential in all of baseball. They're 4 games up with 14 to play. Ex ante, we'd all have said hello playoffs, and if they were pulling away, rather than hanging on, it would feel different. That's not Tito's fault.

Win 2 games in this 4 game series and the Sox are almost definitely in. So that's my motto, just take 2 (baby).
   107. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 04:54 PM (#3925900)
Win 2 games in this 4 game series and the Sox are almost definitely in. So that's my motto, just take 2 (baby).

I want all four. Sweep the leg! Get 'em a bodybag, YEAH!
   108. Dale Sams Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:09 PM (#3925915)
Also to be fair, there were a couple of times when Tito did exactly what I wanted...and it just blew up in his face.

we're all going to have a collective 2nd Grady Little moment.


Already had it in game 2 of the 2008 ALCS.

But Little had some reliable BP options. Come this future scenario, we're gonna be screaming to either go to Aceves or bring in Papelbon in the 6th inning.
   109. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:21 PM (#3925928)
Continuing what VI started earlier, August 21-30;

8/21 - Lester goes 6 shutout innings and is sent out for the 7th on exactly 100 pitches. The Royals go 3B-BB-1B to make it 3-1. Bard comes in and retires 6 in a row. Wheeler finishes.

8/22 - Bedard is strong for 5 then gets in trouble with two on, two out in the sixth and is allowed to face Napoli who hits a game icing 3 run shot. Albers and Morales mop up.

8/23 - John Lackey Special. He is in and out of trouble throughout but 6.2 and Morales comes in to get Hamilton to end the 7th. The offense tacks on and Aceves and Wheeler finish.

8/24 - Beckett goes 6 and leaves up 9-1. Morales, Albers and Papelbon finish.

8/25 - Miller goes 6.1 and comes out at 83 pitches. Aceves and Wheeler finish.

8/26 - Wake gets destroyed and leaves the Sox in an 8-1 hole after 3. Atchison, Albers and Darnell McDonald finish up.

8/27 (Game One) - Lester navigates the raindrops to go 6 innings. Wheeler and Bowden get the last three.

8/27 (Game Two) - Bedard goes four but leaves after a rain delay. Aceves, Bard and Papelbon finish the last three.

8/30 - Lackey goes 7, fortunate to get out of the 7th with just one after a Jeter DP. He started the 7th on 103 pitches. Morales, Albers and Aceves finish

Some boo boos here. I remember asking at the time if Aceves might have come in to face Napoli in an ALDS game. That was a clear reach. Staying with Lackey on the 30th was also an inning too far.

You can argue Lester not coming out in the 8/21 game but he's been a horse and I think lifting him there would have been viewed as an overreach. I think Wake overstayed his welcome in the Friday night game the week of Hurricane Irene but I suspect that with the doubleheader scheduled for Saturday Tito wanted to do all he could to avoid blowing out the bullpen.
   110. Dale Sams Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:41 PM (#3925955)
8/21 was the classic 'one batter too late, we all know what's coming'.
   111. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:49 PM (#3925963)
I want all four. Sweep the leg! Get 'em a bodybag, YEAH!

I think I hear the devil whispering in my ear.
   112. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 15, 2011 at 05:54 PM (#3925969)
You can almost always say, 'a batter too late', in situations like that. It's a choice between burning overworking your best reliever or not. Sometimes you're going to burn your best reliever when you don't have to, and you risk overworking them when you take your starter out too early. Is there any manager who is clearly better than anyone else at this? It would be great if Francona were better, but I don't know many managers who people think are great at it.

I don't really know how long it takes to warm up a reliever, but I would guess at least one batter, minimum. Maybe two depending on how long the AB is. Of course, when your pitcher is at 100 pitches, you should probably have someone just about ready anyway. Are there costs to warming up a reliever and then not using them? I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk much about that. Otherwise why not just have a dude always ready from innings 7-9?
   113. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:04 PM (#3925985)
Are there costs to warming up a reliever and then not using them? I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk much about that. Otherwise why not just have a dude always ready from innings 7-9?


I have recollection of the Braves doing a lot of work on this subject during Mazzone's time. I think they counted bullpen pitches and at some point would basically count a certain amount of warm ups as an appearance.

More anecdotal, it seems that teams are pretty careful not to do more than an "up-down-up" with a reliever. It's pretty rare that a guy warms up more than twice in a game.

I imagine there is also a mental toll. To give a lousy comparison, when I'm raking my lawn this fall I'll be fine until I sit down for 2 minutes, then I'm junk after that. I imagine a reliever gets himself pumped up then when he sits down that energy bleeds away.

All of the above is anecdotal or just theory obviously.
   114. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:12 PM (#3925992)
Edit: What? We're not allowed to criticize Francona?


Who's saying we're not allowed? We just disagree. What, we're not allowed to disagree with you? :)

I'm happy to blame Francona when it seems like it's his fault. Hell, I wanted to put some heat on him after the 2-10 start for just losing so many games with a team that was clearly better than that. When a team with good players plays like crap, some blame has to fall on the manager. They're there to keep guys from getting stuck in ruts and to get the best performance out of them. He doesn't make egregious decisions around bunting/stealing/etc, and he communicates with the players well - I've almost never heard a player say he was unhappy there.
   115. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:13 PM (#3925996)
   116. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:18 PM (#3926003)
How does Francona get credit for keeping an even keel when the team goes through such ups and downs? Shouldn't the evenness of the keel have some tangible effect in keeping the team playing well? If it doesn't, why does it matter?

@114--I was riffing on the post from the previous page.
   117. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#3926021)
How does Francona get credit for keeping an even keel when the team goes through such ups and downs?


Kinda depends on how you want to look at it. MCoA would point out that the Sox are 86-62 and have the third best record in the AL. I think you can argue that without Tito's guidance the downward spirals would have lasted longer.

The flip side is you could argue that without this moron the downward spirals would have been avoided.

I look at this team as a group of players with a lot of underachievers. I think Crawford, Lackey, Youkilis, Drew, Lackey, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, Bard and Jenks all were guys from whom more was expected, in many cases dramatically more. Some of these are performance issues, some of these are health issues and I don't know what of either category belong on Tito's head. I have just seen too many games where the right guy was presumably in the right spot (Bard the last two times, Youkilis a couple of times on the early season road trip for a couple of quick examples) and they just flubbed it.
   118. Joel W Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:35 PM (#3926025)
You can credit for keeping an even keel through ups and downs when you don't change the way you do things as a manager in response to a small sample of games. Each individual game is, as the original post in the thread points out, mostly an independent event. There are obviously many factors which are not independent like injuries and bullpen rest and the mental toll of continuing to lose (and relaxation/fun of continuing to win). Still, the team started 2-10, and Tito didn't go juggling the lineup like crazy, or saying "we have to play small ball" or anything like that. He trusted the talent. What's he done differently in the latest spell? I haven't seen much. That's an even keel amidst ups and downs, and in general, it's to his credit.
   119. Dan Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:38 PM (#3926030)
Wakefield is selling some incredibly ugly 200th win commemorative hats. I'd hope the proceeds are going to charity.


What a ####### joke.

I don't see any mention of charity, for what it's worth.
   120. Joel W Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:44 PM (#3926040)
I don't think Youkilis is particularly underperforming. If he gets to 4.5 WAR or something like that, he'll have mildly underperformed, but probably about what we should have expected in his first year shifting back across the diamond. His hitting is down, but he's also playing a more demanding position defensively, and perhaps, physically.
   121. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:45 PM (#3926042)


Kinda depends on how you want to look at it. MCoA would point out that the Sox are 86-62 and have the third best record in the AL. I think you can argue that without Tito's guidance the downward spirals would have lasted longer.


I'm not sure how you would argue this. The Sox have the second highest payroll--with a big gap between them and #3. They are about where they were expected to be.

I look at this team as a group of players with a lot of underachievers. I think Crawford, Lackey, Youkilis, Drew, Lackey, Matsuzaka, Buchholz, Bard and Jenks all were guys from whom more was expected, in many cases dramatically more. Some of these are performance issues, some of these are health issues and I don't know what of either category belong on Tito's head. I have just seen too many games where the right guy was presumably in the right spot (Bard the last two times, Youkilis a couple of times on the early season road trip for a couple of quick examples) and they just flubbed it.


Isn't creating a winning atmosphere the sort of thing that Tito is given credit for? People generally acknowledge that he's not a great tactician, but they seem convinced that the even keel and keeping players happy skills are a big positive. If they were, would we see so many underachievers?
   122. Joel W Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:50 PM (#3926048)
Ellsbury and Ortiz have overachieved beyond my wildest dreams. So has Beckett, and frankly, so have Papelbon, Aceves, and Reddick. Most of the underachievers you listed got injured. Again, you can lay this on Francona if you want, but for the most part, I think it'd be more attributable to the entire organization and to luck.
   123. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:53 PM (#3926054)
I'm not sure how you would argue this. The Sox have the second highest payroll--with a big gap between them and #3. They are about where they were expected to be.


I think this team is below where they were expected to be by a few games. However, after the 2-10 start a different manager could have overreacted, juggled the lineup and really screwed things up.

Isn't creating a winning atmosphere the sort of thing that Tito is given credit for? People generally acknowledge that he's not a great tactician, but they seem convinced that the even keel and keeping players happy skills are a big positive. If they were, would we see so many underachievers?


That's a fair criticism though I'll note that it could have been worse. I would be curious what was different about this year than past years to make him not as successful with that stuff.
   124. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 06:59 PM (#3926063)
You can credit for keeping an even keel through ups and downs when you don't change the way you do things as a manager in response to a small sample of games. Each individual game is, as the original post in the thread points out, mostly an independent event. There are obviously many factors which are not independent like injuries and bullpen rest and the mental toll of continuing to lose (and relaxation/fun of continuing to win). Still, the team started 2-10, and Tito didn't go juggling the lineup like crazy, or saying "we have to play small ball" or anything like that. He trusted the talent.


Actually, he did juggle the lineup. He constantly juggles lineup, often inserting crappy hitters in the #2 spot so that he can put Pedroia #4. During the 12-game slide, for example, Crawford batted 3, 3, 7, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1. That's the player that they had just signed for $140 mil.
   125. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:01 PM (#3926065)
It seems to me that the underperformance of the team relative to expectations is almost entirely a function of injuries.

I count Ellsbury, Pedroia, Beckett, Papelbon, Reddick as over-performers and Crawford and Lackey as underperformers, everyone else falling generally in the middle. The problem is that lots of guys got hurt. The players have overall been at least as good, probably better than expected, when they've been healthy.

As with most of his managerial career in Boston, it's hard to point to anything that Francona has done which really won a bunch of games for us, or anything he's done that lost a bunch of games for us. We did have another young player develop into a major league talent under his watch, in Reddick, which continues a good record there. At the same time, he's taken a team that projected to the mid-to-high 90s in wins, and probably is going to miss those expectations by a small amount because of injuries. I can't think of any seasons where a Red Sox club under Francona really over- or underperformed expectations from preseason, except for seasons where they were unusually healthy or unusually injury-prone.
   126. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:06 PM (#3926069)
My point (that I obviously failed to make) was not that players did not play well, but that they did not provide the amount of value that would have been expected and that, not Terry Francona, is the primary cause of this team not living up to expectations so far.
   127. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:06 PM (#3926070)
Again, you can lay this on Francona if you want, but for the most part, I think it'd be more attributable to the entire organization and to luck.


I'm not arguing that we lay underachievement on Francona. I'm arguing that we DON'T credit him for the things like "even keel" and "winning atmosphere."

How do you square blaming the org/luck for the bad stuff, but giving A- Francona credit for keeing an even keel?
   128. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:08 PM (#3926072)


That's a fair criticism though I'll note that it could have been worse. I would be curious what was different about this year than past years to make him not as successful with that stuff.


I don't see a difference. The team has had its fair share of underachievers and overachievers for years.
   129. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:09 PM (#3926073)
They are about where they were expected to be.


Then what's the problem?

People generally acknowledge that he's not a great tactician, but they seem convinced that the even keel and keeping players happy skills are a big positive. If they were, would we see so many underachievers?


Is any manager generally acknowledged to be some great tactician? Tony La Russa I guess, but he has plenty of detractors. Francona does a good job keeping clubhouse problems out of the media, and I don't see how keeping players happy (or at keeping them from creating big media problems) is bad. That there are some underachievers is something Francona and the entire Red Sox organization should shoulder some blame for, particularly running guys out there again and again only to fail. When a player who used to be good suddenly sucks, then that's on the player and the organization, including the manager. Dice-K is a prime example. Presumably Dice-K knew how to succeed at one point, and communication problems messed stuff up. With Lackey and Crawford, those guys knew how to be good at baseball at some point, and now they don't. Some of that is on the players themselves, some of that is on Francona for not creating the best conditions for them to be able to succeed, and some of that is on the front office for creating the situation.

The question is, of course, do more good players with good track records fail to succeed under Francona than other managers? It does sort of feel like it, particularly with starting pitchers, but it's hard to know how much blame to apportion to the FO or Francona (I lean mostly towards the FO). The best thing we have to go on is how players themselves explain their failure, and I haven't heard too many blame the organization. Plenty of players on other teams seem to blame the team or manager for their problems, but that doesn't seem to happen often on the Red Sox, which I think speaks pretty well of their management, if not their player-selection abilities.
   130. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3926078)
The Sox have the second highest payroll--with a big gap between them and #3. They are about where they were expected to be.

Just about everyone predicted them to finish 1st in the AL East.
   131. Joel W Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:15 PM (#3926082)
I didn't give him an A-, I gave him a B. I said he'd been more flawed this year than in years past, in particular, WRT his slow hooks and his reliance on crappy pitchers. What letter grade would you give him? What grade would you give him for years past?
   132. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:33 PM (#3926108)
I'm not sure how you would argue this. The Sox have the second highest payroll--with a big gap between them and #3. They are about where they were expected to be.

The Red Sox are number 3, behind the Yankees and Phillies. There is a gap between them and the White Sox at 4.
   133. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:34 PM (#3926111)
   134. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#3926133)
I don't think #130 or #132 really change my general point. They were considered a top team and have been a top team.

@131--I would not have given him an A-, that's for sure. I'd say in the C to B range, depending on where you stand on grade inflation. That grade would include some credit that he's competent in ways we can't really measure from the outside.
   135. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:00 PM (#3926142)
Darren - agreed. Meant to post that but had already wasted two posts on a nitpick.

Hey, look at that. Make it three!
   136. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:02 PM (#3926144)
Francona does a good job keeping clubhouse problems out of the media,


If he keeps them out of the media, how do you know they exist?

and I don't see how keeping players happy (or at keeping them from creating big media problems) is bad.


Again, this is getting twisted. I've never said that keeping players happy is bad. I've said, show me some actual proof that Francona is good at it and some actual proof that it matters. You see how that is very different?

Also, here are some unhappy player issues that have not been resolved happily and quietly: Manny's many outbursts, other players commenting Ellsbury's absence last year, Schilling calling out other pitchers for not pitching hurt, Okajima's banishment, etc.

That there are some underachievers is something Francona and the entire Red Sox organization should shoulder some blame for, particularly running guys out there again and again only to fail. When a player who used to be good suddenly sucks, then that's on the player and the organization, including the manager. Dice-K is a prime example. Presumably Dice-K knew how to succeed at one point, and communication problems messed stuff up. With Lackey and Crawford, those guys knew how to be good at baseball at some point, and now they don't. Some of that is on the players themselves, some of that is on Francona for not creating the best conditions for them to be able to succeed, and some of that is on the front office for creating the situation.


I don't think it's fair that everyone gets to share in the blame but there's no consideration in your assertions above that the players and front office might deserve credit for keeping problems out of the press.
   137. Joel W Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:10 PM (#3926156)
Sorting by "TO" on this list: http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/ you get to 75 managers who have managed in major league baseball since Tito became the Red Sox manager. There are, in that list, maybe 5 managers I'd take over Tito. Torre, Scoscia (and he would drive me nuts, but he keeps overachieving), Maddon, Cox, and maybe Ozzie Guillen (and he would also drive me nuts)?

I know it's not the list of total possible managers, and I know it can be argued that teams should just be smarter, but if we're doing this on grades, and we're doing it with a real curve, you're really putting Tito in the middle of that stinking pile of mediocrity?
   138. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:12 PM (#3926159)
Some good news. Tonight's lineup:

Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Gonzalez 1B
Ortiz DH
Youkilis 3B
Reddick RF
Crawford LF
Saltamacchia C
Scutaro SS
   139. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#3926161)
Talk about grade inflation: Tito's an A- (or B) and everyone below him is a a stinking pile of mediocrity.
   140. Darren Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:17 PM (#3926162)
I've been looking for that all day. Yay Ortiz and Gonzalez are in the lineup.
   141. Joel W Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:25 PM (#3926167)
It's not grade inflation if you're judging somebody in an ordinal list among their peers and then assigning them a grade based on that ordinal ranking. That's how law schools do it. If the problem is the peers, then the problem is your expectations. Fans, as a whole, think managers stink and complain about them all the time. It's what we do. In forcing ourselves to compare our manager to the rest of the possible managers pool, it at least forces us to be objective.

I think you underrate Tito because you can, rightly, identify lots of flaws with him, but aren't forced to question 29 other managers on a daily basis and then compare Tito to them. Marco Scutaro is an incredibly frustrating player sometimes, and he has a bunch of flaws that we can point out day to day, but if I send you this link http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=ss&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=150&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0 you'd be forced to say "ok, I guess he's an average shortstop because most shortstops are probably really frustrating to their fans."

We don't have the objective data like that with managers, or at least, it's harder to come by for a variety of reasons, but we do have our impressions of how to put them in an ordinal list, and who we would trade for who, and in that case, Tito stacks up well.
   142. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:28 PM (#3926170)
Good news about the lineup. My pessimism has been growing each hour. I really think this weekend is going to be hideous. God I hope I'm wrong.
   143. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#3926176)
Good news about the lineup. My pessimism has been growing each hour. I really think this weekend is going to be hideous. God I hope I'm wrong.

In a related story, my optimism is growing by the hour. Seriously. I feel really good about this series.
   144. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 15, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3926179)
If he keeps them out of the media, how do you know they exist?


I just assume every clubhouse has some problems. Maybe the Red Sox are particularly well-behaved and Francona has an easy job, but I kind of doubt it. Lots of douchey, big ego types in there. Dealing with Beckett, Papelbon and Lackey every day? Oof.

I've said, show me some actual proof that Francona is good at it and some actual proof that it matters.


I'm saying, show ME some "actual proof" it doesn't matter! HA! Now the tables have turned! Seriously, do you not think he's good at handling players? He seems good to me. I base that on my gut and half-remembered things I've read on the internet. How do you like that analysis?

-It seems like most of Manny's outbursts were handled pretty well, or about as well as you could expect. That dude is crazy and violent!
-The Schilling stuff was obnoxious, I'll grant you that. Not sure what Francona could have done, but could have told Schilling to shut it more, I guess
-As I recall, the Ellsbury stuff was weird miscommunication between management, Ellsbury, and the media. I think the media was more bothered by it than either Ellsbury or the team. I have no reason to think that that was more on Francona than the FO
-Okajima I have no explanation for, but that obviously seems like a FO issue. I don't think Francona's in charge of that.

I don't think it's fair that everyone gets to share in the blame but there's no consideration in your assertions above that the players and front office might deserve credit for keeping problems out of the press.


Well, life's not fair, but sure, they get some credit too. What am I, supposed to think of everything? I'm supposed to be working. Credit and blame for everybody!

I still don't understand who this supermanager is who you think is clearly superior to Francona, though. I can't think of any previous Red Sox manager who I'd prefer, nor are there many other managers who seem better. Who do you like, and why?
   145. Nasty Nate Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:10 PM (#3926211)
Also, here are some unhappy player issues that have not been resolved happily and quietly: Manny's many outbursts, other players commenting Ellsbury's absence last year, Schilling calling out other pitchers for not pitching hurt, Okajima's banishment, etc.


If these are the worst player issues out there, I think it counts as evidence that Francona is strong in the area of handling players and team chemistry. One of those things is from 7 years ago. The Ellsbury thing indeed has been resolved happily. This seems like a drop in the bucket compared to most other teams' public player problems (granted, I know you weren't trying to give a comprehensive list). No, we can't prove Francona is good at these things, it would be near impossible to do so.

For the past 7 years, the Red Sox have enjoyed organizational stability and a lack of blatant dysfunction to an extent that hadn't been around the franchise for a long time prior for any stretch of time nearly that long. For many people, it seems this is much more likely partially because of Francona and not in spite of him. If you have some reason to believe that he is not a part of the stability and effective leadership, we are open to hear these reasons, but often it seems you are going out of your way to deny Francona credit for successes. If you disagree with the premise that the organization has been above-average in stability and functionality ....well, I'm not sure what to say, but of course if that is your assesment it makes sense to blame Francona partially.
   146. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:30 PM (#3926223)
I think "stability" as Nate seems to see it in #145 is common to teams who have general success on the field for multiple years. Look at the Yankees, Phillies, and the makin' the playoff Ranger teams of the last few years. Personnel issues take a backseat to organizational goals. As teams are not in the chase for a championship, the visible-to-the-fans dysfunction starts to get bigger and bigger.

So I would posit that the stability of the Red Sox organization in the last ten years or so most likely followed general success of the product on the field. As you're competitive year after year, I think a true vision for the organization has a chance to take hold. If the FO's overriding emotion is "I hope they don't fire me", you see increasingly bizarre short-term moves at the expense of a long-term vision.
   147. Nasty Nate Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:37 PM (#3926229)
That's true but sometimes it's the stability that can lead to or improve upon the success. The Sox from 95-02 or the Mets from 97-06 also had general success of the field, but it seems like they lacked the same organizational stability and had more dysfunction.
   148. Nasty Nate Posted: September 15, 2011 at 09:57 PM (#3926249)
... i meant "had general success on the field" in that last post
   149. Dan Posted: September 16, 2011 at 01:55 AM (#3926553)
Blowing that game against Toronto looms large now.

This team is completely screwed if they don't win tomorrow's game. The entire season is resting on Beckett's shoulders, as he makes his first start coming back from an injury, with no effective relievers other than Papelbon behind him.
   150. Darren Posted: September 16, 2011 at 01:56 AM (#3926554)
I think you underrate Tito because you can, rightly, identify lots of flaws with him, but aren't forced to question 29 other managers on a daily basis and then compare Tito to them.


And from watching all of the games of every team, what have you concluded?
   151. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: September 16, 2011 at 02:16 AM (#3926583)
This team is running on petrol fumes right now - and Tampa ####### own this team - it's embarrassing.
   152. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: September 16, 2011 at 02:28 AM (#3926591)

This team is completely screwed if they don't win tomorrow's game. The entire season is resting on Beckett's shoulders, as he makes his first start coming back from an injury, with no effective relievers other than Papelbon behind him.


Seriously? Even if they lose 3 of 4 they'll have a 2 game lead.
   153. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 16, 2011 at 02:37 AM (#3926601)
WJ - This team is going to be fortunate to win five more games. They are cooked.
   154. Joel W Posted: September 16, 2011 at 03:25 PM (#3926893)
They play Baltimore 7 more times, get off it.

@150,

I don't watch all the other managers all the time, but you get a sense from the games against the Sox, and from the National ones, and from the way fans talk about them. This argument has basically boiled down to me saying "Tito is better than most of the other available managers from what I can tell" and you not coming down one way or another. If you want to argue that being better than most other managers is not the way we should assess Tito, then that's fine, and we can argue about that premise. If you want to say "no, I think he's just the same as that stinking pile of mediocrity" then say that, and we can argue about that factually. I just don't know which it is you are arguing.
   155. Dale Sams Posted: September 16, 2011 at 03:38 PM (#3926909)
Red Sox should bench Crawford vs. lefties. Start Mcdonald in left, he's got a better arm and hits lefties better. Put Reddick in right, he also is a better defender right now and can hardly do worse than Crawford. Have Paps pitch the 8th and 9th. Bring him into the 7th if there's a fireman situation, then let him go as long as he can.
...none of the above will happen.
   156. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 16, 2011 at 03:48 PM (#3926922)
Okajima's banishment

Have the Red Sox given any explanation for that? Even if they thought Okajima's AAA stats were illusory, you'd think he'd still rate a September call-up to determine if he could help, especially given the bullpen problems. Seems like the question should be asked until it's answered.
   157. Textbook Editor Posted: September 16, 2011 at 03:48 PM (#3926924)
What makes the Okajima thing weird is (a) Pawtucket's season is over, and (b) by not bringing him up you're saying Matt Albers right now is more effective than Okajima... and I've seen corpses pitch more effectively than Matt Albers.

So, basically, to teach a "lesson" to a guy you're going to be releasing anyway, you're OK with having 1 effective reliever in the bullpen, when there's at least a non-zero chance that Okajima gives you another arm more useful then Albers.

I don't get it. Unless Okajima literally said \"#### you, I won't report if called up," it makes no sense whatsoever they haven't called him up.

And if he *did* say that... why the hell not leave him hanging out to dry so folks know it's not the FO that is insane, but the player?
   158. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 16, 2011 at 07:21 PM (#3927169)
Have the Red Sox given any explanation for that? Even if they thought Okajima's AAA stats were illusory, you'd think he'd still rate a September call-up to determine if he could help, especially given the bullpen problems. Seems like the question should be asked until it's answered.


Agreed. Kevin Millwood's 124 ERA+ would be pretty welcome on the big league team right now, too. His stats weren't pretty, but it seems like a good scout should have been able to see his usefulness.
   159. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2011 at 08:33 PM (#3927245)
Updated...

(BPro W3%)
RS .61, TB .57: 7%

(Sox good, Rays good)
RS .55, TB .57: 12%

(Sox not so good, Rays good)
RS .52, TB .57: 16%

(Sox bad, Rays great)
RS .48, TB .60: 28%
   160. Nasty Nate Posted: September 16, 2011 at 08:41 PM (#3927250)
I am going to tomorrow's game, and am willing to drink and smoke enough before, during, and after the game to ensure a hometeam victory.
   161. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 16, 2011 at 08:57 PM (#3927265)
Just wanna say thanks to MCoA for his constant odds updates. My insane rantings aside, they are interesting and I don't know if it takes him a long time or not, but the work with that and in general with ST is much appreciated.

Now excuse me I'm trying to decide what tonight's inanimate object will be sacrificed.
   162. Joel W Posted: September 16, 2011 at 09:47 PM (#3927289)
I don't know if you guys watch Friday Night Lights, but in a number of episodes before the game they do this great montage of the players just sitting there pumping their legs up and down. Just jittery, nervous, excited. Butterflies.

That's what I love about baseball in October. That anticipation, and I suppose it comes with a good pennant race (wild card) because that's what the run up to these games feels like. I really hope we get 2003/2007 October Beckett tonight (which, frankly, has been 2011 Beckett all year). But, yeah. Go Sox.
   163. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 16, 2011 at 10:36 PM (#3927318)
That anticipation, and I suppose it comes with a good pennant race (wild card)


Joel, I don't want to start it up in yet another thread, but the Wild Card allows a temporarily hot team to overtake a good team that plays badly for a period of time. This "race" is a team trying not to collapse as it runs out the clock, while another team plays its best ball and hopes for the sucking to continue.

A mad flurry to finish second may be entertaining (and I welcome it; it's created interest here). But I think we want (and deserve) a race more like the one in the West - two teams playing well down the stretch in pursuit of the playoffs.

If your favorite part of an NFL game is the taking of the knee to run out the time at the end of the game, then September AL East baseball is for you!
   164. Dale Sams Posted: September 16, 2011 at 11:12 PM (#3927339)
That (Sox bad, Rays great) is getting a lot closer to the 55% or so chance I feel the Rays have.
   165. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 17, 2011 at 12:01 AM (#3927425)
EDIT: chattered
   166. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 17, 2011 at 02:49 AM (#3927747)
Not that we need numbers to prove it, but that was a big win, and here are the numbers to prove it.

(BPro W3%)
RS .61, TB .57: 3%

(Sox good, Rays good)
RS .55, TB .57: 5%

(Sox not so good, Rays good)
RS .52, TB .57: 8%

(Sox bad, Rays great)
RS .48, TB .60: 14%

The chances of the Rays taking the wild card from us dropped by half.
   167. Daryn Posted: September 17, 2011 at 02:55 AM (#3927752)
The Angels losing was helpful too. One more loss this weekend and they are probably out of the WC race.
   168. Dan Posted: September 17, 2011 at 03:08 AM (#3927765)
In tonight's game thread, Chip hypothesized that Papelbon is using his old arm slot in a contract drive, and saying #### the shoulder. I said not really, he's just commanding his fastball better. Pitch F/X agrees with me, although obviously things have changed with it over the years, I don't think they're measuring release point differently.

A couple of games from 2007:

9/4/07 in Toronto
9/12/07 vs. Tampa Bay

Tonight:

9/16/11 vs. Tampa Bay

That was just a brief look at a few random games, but visually it seems to me that he's still a bit more 3/4 than over the top like he used to be as well. Someone else with more time can feel free to look into this in more depth and see if I'm right or wrong.
   169. Dale Sams Posted: September 17, 2011 at 03:19 AM (#3927773)
He's also more effective using his off-speed stuff, though I don't think i saw him throw any tonight.
   170. Dan Posted: September 17, 2011 at 03:47 AM (#3927794)
He threw a slider to Longoria on 0-2. It was pretty far out of the zone. But yeah, he's been using his off speed pitches more than he has in recent seasons, and especially on days when he doesn't have his best fastball. His fastball is still a dominant pitch when he has the good one, but the issue the past few years was that on the days he wasn't throwing his best fastball, he was still just throwing fastballs.
   171. tfbg9 Posted: September 17, 2011 at 04:28 AM (#3927825)
168-It would seem Skippy's making things up again.
   172. Darren Posted: September 17, 2011 at 06:38 PM (#3928113)
@154: I reject your categories "Tito and better" and "stinking pile." Based on my seeing Tito as a below average tactiician, and the fact that I see no evidence that he gets more out of his players than expected (whether that be through clubhouse happiness, pulling pitchers, using outfielders, or whatever), I'd say he's in the average neighborhood. And I see no reason he should be above reproach, which was my original point.
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