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   1. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 11:35 AM (#3938710)
As I've said elsewhere, I do not think Terry Francona is the primary or even plurality cause of the Sox collapse. I blame (a) injuries (b) weak SP depth, and (c) bad luck with run distribution more than I blame Francona.

But given that this team hasn't simply been losing games, they've been losing ugly - mistakes all over the field, bad approaches at the plate or on the mound in key at-bats - I have drawn the conclusion that the Sox are struggling for reasons that go beyond (a) (b) and (c), and include a significant mental or emotional factor. And that aspect of the unpleasantness, the aspect that can be identified as simple choking - is that aspect of it where a manager is supposed to step up and fix things. It's a problem in the clubhouse, and the manager's job is to manage the clubhouse.
   2. TomH Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM (#3938731)
It comes down to:
1 when a guy leads a club to two trophies after a gazillion years of desert wanderings, he gets a VERY long rope
2 unfortunately, what made Francona effective in some circumstances ain't workin now
3 MCoA is right that the collapse sure isn't all the mgr's fault. It might only be 10% his fault. But that's enough to hang him with, if they lose the WC by one gmae (which as of Tues AM looks like a 50-50 proposition). This team has needed some wake up call, probbaly a tail-whuppin, to shake them out of their error- and mistake-proneness that has exascerbated the pathetic pitching.
4 If I were plunked into Terry's body later this week, I'd offer my resignation, pending lack of playoffs. And I would do it publicly. I messed up. And the team (see point #1) may not let me go unless I give them permission.
   3. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:15 PM (#3938734)
I really have to think about the options here, because aside from a guy like Dierker I really don't have anyone in mind--but I'm hoping Theo (or whoever the GM will be that makes the decision) has a list he keeps updated on a regular basis with names of folks he'd want to hire.

I'd really, really hope they avoid a retread. I want a manager who's aggressive with the bullpen and won't leave starters in 3 batters too long on a nightly basis. I want a forward-thinking, out-of-the-box guy.

Tito leaving Beckett in last night--and then burning Aceves is a lower-leverage situation because he had warmed up--was the last straw for me; I've seen this sort of nonsense too many times to ever want to see it again.
   4. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:16 PM (#3938737)
I bet he's back next year, on a short leash, even if they ultimately blow it.
   5. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM (#3938740)
FWIW, I would not fire Tito on the last day, or even on Thursday. I think there is a pretty good chance he resigns, actually, so might as well see if that happens first. If it doesn't, then you fire him.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:29 PM (#3938744)
They don't actually need to "fire" him. Francona's contract expires at the end of the season, and the team has yet to pick up their option on his 2012 contract.
   7. Mattbert Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:29 PM (#3938745)
I really have to think about the options here, because aside from a guy like Dierker I really don't have anyone in mind--but I'm hoping Theo (or whoever the GM will be that makes the decision) has a list he keeps updated on a regular basis with names of folks he'd want to hire.

This is the key point for me. I like Dierker a lot too, but is he even on the radar any more after a decade away from the dugout? The only guy I would be 100% certain I want to hire--and the guy I wanted the Sox to hire* after they fired Grady--is currently managing the Rays. And I don't think he's going anywhere, particularly if he manages to pip the Red Sox to the post here. So who should Theo bring in? Hell, if we're sticking a fork in Tito, shouldn't Theo be catching a little more heat for having his last two big free agent signings look for all the world as though he would have been better off investing $200 million of John Henry's money with Bernie Madoff?

* Not that Tito has ended up as anything but a pretty spectacularly great hire, but I was a huge Maddon fan already, based on my time living in California and hearing about his day-to-day work with the Angels.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:34 PM (#3938747)
I think people are taking the wrong approach to thinking about a new manager. Very few managers are actually great, and most great managers demand a level of control over the club which I think Theo is unlikely to want to give up. What the Sox need is a manager who is good for this club, and that's an extremely difficult thing to evaluate from afar. I'm sure there's a retread or a bench coach out there would who be good for this team, in this situation, with this ownership and this roster. That's what they'll need.
   9. villageidiom Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:36 PM (#3938749)
EDIT: Comment withdrawn and replaced with a Coke to MCA in #6.
   10. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: September 27, 2011 at 12:44 PM (#3938754)
I don't want to fire Francona.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 01:15 PM (#3938794)
They probably won't delegate that to you.
   12. Toby Posted: September 27, 2011 at 01:17 PM (#3938799)
I am mostly just a lurker here these days, but let me give my two cents. My wife and I went to the game last night and we both thought they looked very flat. Between pitches and between innings, there wasn't any pep.

I have no idea what Mikael is talking about when he says fans are united against Francona and that he's lost the clubhouse. Both of these things are news to me. Explain?

There are two things that really irk me about this team, and I'm not sure how much either of them can be chalked up to Francona. The first is the baserunning, which has been atrocious, especially in September. According to ESPN's splits, the Sox in September have stolen 8 bases and been thrown out 9 times, an atrocious 47% success rate, easily the worst in the league. And it seems like every time they have a runner thrown out, it knocks the wind out of the whole team for the whole rest of the game.

The other thing is the complete absence of consequences for high-paid players who suck. Crawford has sucked from Day 1. Lackey, too. J.D. Drew. I think it's great that Francona has patience with his players -- we've lived in past years through two months of Pedroia suckitude, two months of Ortiz suckitude, and so on, and the patience has paid off in the end. Those players eventually redeemed themselves. Crawford, Lackey, and Drew have been given free passes. I have to believe that drains a clubhouse. I know if I were in the clubhouse I would be saying, WHY THE #### ARE THESE GUYS STILL PLAYING EVERY DAY? I know I would, because as a fan that is what I am doing. This team has been fun to watch at times -- when Lowrie was playing, when Reddick was playing, when Miller was getting starts. I have to imagine there's a rift in the clubhouse and it's between the millionaires who play (and play poorly) and the kids who sit. I honestly wonder how much of those choices are Francona's and how much they are Theo's.
   13. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 01:25 PM (#3938811)
Toby - I would argue both of those things can be chalked up to Tito. On the baserunning part of his job is to get guys to understand "don't try to do too much" but they keep making those plays. As for the consequence of high-paid players I think a number of people here are frustrated with the ongoing use of Lackey and while Crawford probably should be playing there is no need for him to bat second.

fans are united against Francona


I think MCoA is talking about around here more specifically but generally he's saying that even those of us who consider ourselves Francona backers have come to the conclusion that he needs to go.

Unrelated to Toby's post I just got a phone call from a friend. He's a wonderful guy but he is one of those people who thinks he knows more than he does. For example, he insists he understands that wins don't matter but called me in a lather last November because Felix Hernandez clearly didn't deserve the Cy Young. Anyway, he was ranting that Carl Crawford has to change his batting stance! Yeah he's always used it but now that he's in a big market teams pitch him differently. That was his theory anyway...ugh this is going to be a long off-season.
   14. The Essex Snead Posted: September 27, 2011 at 01:47 PM (#3938849)
Yes, let's totally overreact about why this team lost an 8-game lead in the wildcard, because that's never happened before, and it's certainly never happened to a good team before, and it's CLEARLY never happened to a good team that's had to deal w/ all sorts of injuries before.

&, honestly, the more reasoned attempts to justify the wanton pants-pissing actually irk me more than the irrational sky-is-falling nonsense, because there's nothing to justify (as far as blaming Francona for what's happening). What worked for Tito for 6 years didn't work for year 7? Big whoop. You want to completely overhaul a guy's swing simply because he has a crap season, too?

Laying the depth issue at Epstein's feet is something else, but even then, as much as he is to blame for the Lackey contract -- pardon my pragmatism, but I'm going to wait & see on the Crawford deal before bringing out my pitchfork -- calling for his head, given the sound moves he's made (especially in the drafting / development area) is some Chicken-Little nonsense as well.

I guess it is heartening, though, to know that all areas of Red Sox Inc. (outside of the team proper) were chomping at the bit to revisit the days of THE CURSE, when inferiority complexes were king & rational thinking took a back seat to putting out fires that don't even exist.
   15. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 01:56 PM (#3938859)
revisit the days of THE CURSE, when inferiority complexes were king & rational thinking took a back seat to putting out fires that don't even exist.


Gimme a break, no one (at least not here) is claiming "THE CURSE" or anything like it. Terry Francona has had a bad year, I don't think that is deniable. If you want to argue that he should still come back and that he will take lessons learned this year into the future and make himself a better manager, I have no problem with that. That is a perfectly reasonable POV. My feeling is that Mikael is right and that he has reached his expiration date.

I don't think either of those views is unreasonable.

And for what it's worth no team has ever lost a 9 game lead in September, so no, it hasn't happened before.
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 01:56 PM (#3938860)
The counter-argument should run...

The Red Sox error rate, out-on-base rate, and rate of mental errors are simply a fluke of timing. The way the Red Sox have been playing is the sort of thing that conceivably could happen if a random number generator spit out the wrong numbers, and we can't dismiss the null hypothesis that this is all a lot of bad luck.

If that's your argument, please make it instead of saying you're "irked" and acting as if no argument for the other side worth responding to has been presented.

I can see the case, but I think the error rate, out-on-base rate, and overall rate of mental and physical errors point to a team which is not coming to the park every day prepared to play smart and effective baseball. They point to a team which is simply messed up, mentally and emotionally. A team which is choking. And that's on the manager.

EDIT: To be clear, I really can see the case. I get that "choking" is insanely hard to identify, and that random number generators are capable of generating really, really random numbers. I would certainly be interested in seeing, for example, an analysis of the Sox error rate / OOB rate that showed it was within the range of normal variation. It sure doesn't look like it is to me.
   17. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:01 PM (#3938868)
I guess it is heartening, though, to know that all areas of Red Sox Inc.

A few things -

Your post has some merit, I happen to agree there's a lot of overreacting going on right now amongst us Sox fans. We aren't all overreacting, by the way - I don't happen to think Francona should be fired/let go. I certainly wouldn't make that decision this minute, were it up to me. Sometimes good teams get hurt and play poorly at the same time. It doesn't necessarily say anything about the character of the team or the manager. It might - but it doesn't necessarily. It's very easy to start to point to all these things that are wrong when times are tough, and start to buy into it. There just HAS to be some reason they are losing, right?

However, that "overreaction" is coming from highly emotional fan(atics) who are still in the thick of this. So, some of it *is* justified, in that none of these people are making decisions for the Red Sox, obviously, they are just fans, and you also don't have to come over to the Red Sox blog and read it if it disagrees with you. For example, I'm sure I could go back and dig up some 2007 Mets threads featuring at least equivalent gnashing of teeth. It's also not going to help to scold said fans at this stage of the game. So, to me, there's two sides to it.
   18. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:03 PM (#3938873)
That said, last night was kind of ###### up, huh?
   19. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:06 PM (#3938877)
Carl Crawford should change his batting approach, which is a different thing completely and far less likely to happen than batting "stance" tweaks.

Look, locally I've watched Jimmy Rollins for years have basically the same approach as Crawford--hit for some power, use your speed, don't ever take a walk--and it's maddening, especially for a supposed #1/#2 hitter.

I'd rather see the current-day version of Mark Bellhorn batting #2 than Carl Crawford right now. He's a mess, but the point is his plate approach/discipline has always been a mess. The guy just doesn't get on base enough, and while you can have a guy like that bat #6/#7 if he has power and some speed, to have him batting #2 is awful, and it's an experiment I hope they never repeat.

The FA contracts are on Theo--I get this. Frankly, I think 4 years of rope after 2007 is a good bit of rope to give a GM. It's not that we would have been better off with other signings; the sad fact is we'd have been better off just not signing anyone. I know folks point to Crawford as having been down before and bounced back but (a) he's older, (b) his basic approach to playing the game/batting hasn't changed, (c) he's now under the microscope for the first time in his life as having had an abject failure of a season in a big market.

I don't see a bounce-back happening. I think Crawford's a sunk cost.
   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:09 PM (#3938881)
Also, to be clear, I think the main reason the Sox are losing is bad luck. It's impossible for even a terrible ballclub to go 6-19 without some bad luck. The Red Sox have taken a bad injury hit, and they've turned runs into wins at a horrific rate - both of those should be chalked up mostly to luck.

But I think there's more to it, that's the argument I made in the "errors" post, in the main board WC thread on Sunday, and several other places. The rate at which this team is simply screwing up, dropping balls and not running to the right base and failing to execute a normal crossover step on an attempted steal, has reached a level where I think it demands explanation. I find "choking" a more convincing explanation of the rate of mental and physical errors than "bad luck". That may only be 5-10% of the reason for the collapse, but it signifies a problem in the clubhouse which must be blamed on the manager.

Let me put it this way. If you did believe the Red Sox were choking, if you did believe that the rate of mental and physical errors signified a real team-wide problem, would you blame the manager? Would you, if you did believe that, also believe that this was evidence of a failure of leadership that is a fireable offense?
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:15 PM (#3938885)
Carl Crawford sucked for five months as the Red Sox ran off a 83-52 record. Tim Wakefield and John Lackey picked up start after start during that time. It's really hard for me to see how the collapse could be about the team's talent level.

I mean, runs scored / runs allowed is a much better estimate of talent level than wins / losses, right? The Sox have scored 135 runs in September and allowed 161. If they had won games at a commensurate rate, they'd be resting the regulars today in preparation for the playoffs.
   22. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:17 PM (#3938891)
And I'll fully admit to having the pitchforks and torches out, but if you read chatters going back several years now, Francona has basically never changed his approach/adapted to the situation at hand.

He learned a lesson in 2004--steady as she goes is a good approach when down 3-0, and only when faced with lose-or-go-home do I think outside the box--that he's taken way, way, way too much to heart, especially in this current situation. He managed the bullpen aggressively once (in Toronto, I think--the game where he brought Bard in in the 7th inning) this whole month, it blows up in his face, and that aggression isn't seen again aside from leaving Papelbon in 2+ innings on Sunday.

The lessons he learned in 2004 (and to some extent in 2007) worked in those situations. They don't work now, and he can't see that... that's my problem with Francona. I'm not asking him to throw chairs. I'm asking him to do simple things like bring Aceves in when it's still 3-2 and Beckett is obviously gassed and over 100 pitches in his 2nd start coming back from an injury. I don't think this is asking a lot.
   23. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:22 PM (#3938894)
Another perhaps useful clarification would be to say that I disagree with TE.

I don't think that Francona's tactics have played anything more than a very marginal role in the unpleasantness. What I blame Francona for are the mistakes, and the lack of mental and emotional preparation I think they signify. It's a clubhouse problem, not an in-game tactics problem.
   24. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:29 PM (#3938904)
It's just extremely difficult to win year after year. It's not so much the managers have an expiration date as that they are the ones that inevitably pay the price when a team doesn't meet expectations.
   25. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:31 PM (#3938908)
MCoA--I see your point, and you make a very good argument. I also will agree there has been perhaps a significant degree of bad luck in play as well (but then any team that goes 6-19 could probably say that).

I have the benefit of having seen Francona manage in Philly, and he's the same guy tactically now that he was then, and this drives me nuts. He's no Grady Little on tactics, I admit that, but he's not great and especially not great when it comes to starters. His approach to removing starters has been magnified this month because of the starters' historic awfulness, but even in the face of this awfulness his approach has not changed, and it's driven me off the edge and caused me to take up my pitchfork and torch.

I fully admit I'm over-reacting. But it's not like this grumbling about Theo and his FA signings, or Tito and his starting pitcher hook hasn't been a running discussion for years now--this stuff did not just pop up in the last 30 days.
   26. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:34 PM (#3938909)
It's not so much the managers have an expiration date as that they are the ones that inevitably pay the price when a team doesn't meet expectations.
This is entirely non-responsive to the arguments in this thread.
   27. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:41 PM (#3938922)
I fully admit I'm over-reacting. But it's not like this grumbling about Theo and his FA signings, or Tito and his starting pitcher hook hasn't been a running discussion for years now--this stuff did not just pop up in the last 30 days.
This suggests an entirely different narrative of the Sox collapse from the one I believe in.

This is the "Luck is the Residue of Design" explanation - that the Red Sox were a profoundly flawed team from the beginning, that the statistical projections of the 2011 Red Sox were badly wrong, and that the manager was flawed from the beginning as well, and the Sox had been lucky to win with him over the past seven years. I find this by far the least convincing explanation of the unpleasantness - the analysis of this club's roster in the offseason was extensive, and I have seen no systematic argument ("Carl Crawford is bad" is not a systematic argument) that attempts to demonstrate what was wrong with our preseason analysis. The Sox played exactly to expectations for five months, and I think the question should be, what happened in the last month?

The explanation suggested by Toby and Essex is \"#### happens". 100%, or nearly 100% of the unpleasantness can be blamed on injuries and bad luck with run distribution. We rolled boxcars again and again until our bankroll was gone.

My explanation is mostly \"#### happens" with a smaller but significant "they choked". I think the Sox would have won the Wild Card by now, even with our terrible luck, if the players had showed up ready to play and not made mistake after mistake in the field, and I think the mental and physical error rate demands an explanation beyond \"#### happens."
   28. The Essex Snead Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:43 PM (#3938925)
For what it's worth, my little steam-valve of a post was more about a general vibe I'm getting from all of baseball, not specifically here, tho the "highly emotional fans" on BBTF overreacting to every little thing (re: the Red Sox & other teams) really gets my goat, especially as I'm a nominal Red Sox fan. I use "nominal" because I honestly haven't really been "feeling" the collapse. If that means I need to turn in my decoder ring, get my Kickdrop Murphys tattoo lasered off, and hit the road, so be it.

In my mind, the Red Sox were never as bad as their 2-10 start, but (to be kind) they might've been playing over their collective heads during the 81-42 stretch that followed, especially given the stuff referenced in [21] coupled w/ all the injuries. Calling this 6-19 run a "course correction" is being glib to an absurd extreme, but (and apologies if this sounds equally glib) stuff happens; pitchers fall on their face, hitters strike out, fielders drop fly balls. To answer the leading question in [20]: yes, if I believed the Red Sox were choking, I would blame the manager and/or leadership. But I don't believe that, any more than I believed the Red Sox needed to panic and start making bodies hit the floor when they lost 10 of their first 12 games. That's not a line I'm willing to toe.
   29. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:50 PM (#3938944)
I am always on the pro-Francona side of the Sox Therapy spectrum, but I think he has had an awful year as a manager. Maybe not Tony-Clark-in-'02 bad, but probably Beckett-in-'06 bad.

First the first time I can honestly say I wouldn't be disappointed if they changed managers.
   30. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:51 PM (#3938945)
I don't think the Sox were profoundly flawed (though I was not happy with either the Lackey or Crawford signings; I don't care how they projected out at the time). I don't think the Sox have been overly lucky the past 7 years, or overcome Grady Little-type buffoonery to win 2 WS titles in that time.

What I do think is that structural things have helped contribute to the collapse. They don't explain all of it, or maybe even most of it--I'm agreeing with you there--but once the run of bad luck/"choking" started, the structural problems did nothing to help get them out of the tailspin, and to me that's gotta be on the manager/GM.
   31. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:52 PM (#3938947)
This is entirely non-responsive to the arguments in this thread.

I just think your premise is wrong. You say that Francona's tactics didn't make the difference but you're firing him because of the players mental and physical mistakes, which are somehow due to Francona being there too long and/or not being able to prevent said mistakes. Blaming the wrong person, in my opinion.
   32. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:53 PM (#3938948)
So, you summarize my argument and say that in your opinion it's wrong. Really bringing your best game, YC.
   33. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:56 PM (#3938954)
For what it's worth, the idea that managers have expiration dates is an idea I draw from Bill James' managers book. I think he makes the case there clearly and cogently, and with a strong historical perspective. Most managers do their best work early in their tenure with a club, and especially players' managers and taskmasters / redasses eventually wear out their welcome and lose the clubhouse. It's not an idea that was new with James in any way, but he's the writer who convinced me of the underlying point.
   34. PJ Martinez Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:58 PM (#3938956)
Toward the end of this post evaluating just how historic this collapse could be, Nate Silver suggests that Boston's pitchers are choking, and provides some numbers to support that hypothesis.
   35. RobertMachemer Posted: September 27, 2011 at 02:59 PM (#3938958)
The monthlong unpleasantness has unified fans against a common enemy – Tito Francona.
Count me out of your union. I still like Francona and will be irritated if he is fired. I think the devil I do not know is likely (a lot) worse than the devil I do know, and that Francona is one of the best managers around. Even for this team. I thought he was one of the best managers around when the Sox were winning games despite their crappy pitching and I think he's one of the best managers around as the pitching has gone south and Youkilis's groin has exploded. What's Francona supposed to do when none of his starters can make it 5 innings without giving up 5 runs? With what pitchers is he supposed to replace his entire rotation?
   36. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:04 PM (#3938965)
What's Francona supposed to do when none of his starters can make it 5 innings without giving up 5 runs? With what pitchers is he supposed to replace his entire rotation?


If he had better coaching, better game-planning, better fielding, better strategy against the SB, better whatever, his pitchers might have better success! He has at least some responsibility for how his pitchers and fielders do.

I think the devil I do not know is likely (a lot) worse than the devil I do know


I share this sentiment.
   37. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:07 PM (#3938969)
What's Francona supposed to do when none of his starters can make it 5 innings without giving up 5 runs? With what pitchers is he supposed to replace his entire rotation?


Aceves
Doubront
Morales
Tazawa

I'm not denying that none of these is exactly a great option but he has done NOTHING.

More damning though is his in-game mistakes. When Lackey was getting demolished against the Orioles last week he sat back and did nothing allowed an 11-5 lead to become 11-9. Knowing your pitchers aren't doing the job means you go LaRussa earlier than you'd normally go, especially in September when you have 15 pitchers.

Look, I'm still hesitant about fully supporting the Tito must go approach. I fear we'll look back at that decision with regret but he deserves some blame for this, everyone does and at the very least I think we need to consider the possibility that his time has come.
   38. SoSH U at work Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:11 PM (#3938979)
For what it's worth, the idea that managers have expiration dates is an idea I draw from Bill James' managers book. I think he makes the case there clearly and cogently, and with a strong historical perspective. Most managers do their best work early in their tenure with a club, and especially players' managers and taskmasters / redasses eventually wear out their welcome and lose the clubhouse. It's not an idea that was new with James in any way, but he's the writer who convinced me of the underlying point.


It's not just expiration dates, though I agree most managers have them. As you note, other than the truly great (LaRussa and Cox of recent times), most managers need a specific situation to do well (young team vs. old team, playoff contender vs. rebuilder, set lineup vs. mix and match, fiery guy or player's manager - often dictated by who the last guy was). Tito isn't necessarily a worse manager today than he was in 2004, but for a whole host of reasons he may not be the best manager for the Sox as he was when he was hired.
   39. BDC Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:13 PM (#3938981)
MCoA, I agree, and I think it's the same with managers in any business or organization: stay in the same desk too long and your effectiveness goes way down. It gives one enormous respect for Walter Alston, Earl Weaver, and the few others who stayed fresh and successful for so many years.

That said, I still think it's notable that the Sox went 64-30 after opening 2-10 this year and being left for dead. If Francona can get that kind of result over 94 games, it might suggest that the start and finish of this season were the aberration; if they'd timed the slumps and streaks differently, Francona might be a big genius right now, tied with the Rays with two to play. Though it may well be that they're really overall a >.667 ballclub and he's been the problem.
   40. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:13 PM (#3938984)
I bet he's back next year, on a short leash, even if they ultimately blow it.

That's very likely true given that every single manager who ever presided over a late-season collapse came back the next year. Every single damn one. No exceptions in baseball history.
   41. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:18 PM (#3938991)
Tito isn't necessarily a worse manager today than he was in 2004


it is a possibility that he is a worse manager, he might be less "hungry" to win, he might not have kept up w/ changes in the game etc etc...
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM (#3938999)
it is a possibility that he is a worse manager, he might be less "hungry" to win, he might not have kept up w/ changes in the game etc etc...


Undoubtedly true.
   43. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM (#3939000)
Why can't this discussion wait until the season is over? What if the Sox beat the piss out of the O's the next few days, make the playoffs and then rampage to the World Series?
   44. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM (#3939001)
That said, I still think it's notable that the Sox went 64-30 after opening 2-10 this year and being left for dead. If Francona can get that kind of result over 94 games, it might suggest that the start and finish of this season were the aberration; if they'd timed the slumps and streaks differently, Francona might be a big genius right now, tied with the Rays with two to play. Though it may well be that they're really overall a >.667 ballclub and he's been the problem.
All of these are possibilities. I see the 2-10 start as a pure statistical fluke, just a random number generator slapping us upside the head, and the 83-52 record over the first five months as basically in line with the talent level of the club Francona had.

Overall, as Sox manager, Francona's clubs have neither under- nor over-performed expectations. I don't think he has any particular powers either way, but when you have the structural advantages the Red Sox have, a manager who can be trusted to guide the team to their projected winning percentage is a useful part to have.
   45. The Yankee Clapper Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:36 PM (#3939010)
Aceves
Doubront
Morales
Tazawa

I'm not denying that none of these is exactly a great option but he has done NOTHING.


To be fair, Francona gave Weiland and Miller every opportunity to stay in the rotation. It just didn't work. On Aceves, his ERA as starter this year is 5.14. It's a tough call, especially in desperate times, but I don't think it was unreasonable to think Aceves would contribute to more wins in relief by holding the fort until the Sox bats put them ahead. That didn't happen, either.
   46. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:42 PM (#3939020)
On Aceves, his ERA as starter this year is 5.14. It's a tough call, especially in desperate times, but I don't think it was unreasonable to think Aceves would contribute to more wins in relief by holding the fort until the Sox bats put them ahead. That didn't happen, either.


One of the ongoing trends during this debacle has been the Sox falling behind 2-0, 3-0 in the first or second inning every night. The lack of meaningful innings for the bullpen was obvious and something that had to be rectificed.

I'm fine with giving guys chances but the Sox could have done well with a "bullpen game" or two in this stretch.
   47. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 03:56 PM (#3939039)
As far as Miller, I think I was away when he was dropped from the rotation, so I'm not sure what the discussion was at the time. But, retroactively, it was a bad move to choose Weiland, Wake, and Lackey to get starts over him this past month, right? Was Miller injured, or did he just have 2 bad starts in a row?
   48. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:05 PM (#3939050)
Of course, one fun fact of the collapse will be that Francona will have managed the same team through arguably the greatest postseason comeback in history and the biggest collapse in baseball history. That will be a tough record to top.
   49. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:07 PM (#3939059)
Of course, one fun fact of the collapse will be that Francona will have managed the same team through arguably the greatest postseason comeback in history and the biggest collapse in baseball history. That will be a tough record to top.


Not quite the same but I think Frank Reich had both the biggest college football and NFL single game comebacks to his credit.
   50. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:07 PM (#3939060)
I remember after 1962 a million writers had Alston out of LA and home in his basement making chairs.

The Dodgers ignored the noise and d*mned if the Dodgers didn't win again.

I think the Sox are correct to take the route of the Rooney family in Pittsburgh where once you have a guy he's THE GUY unless something so dramatic happens you believe THE GUY has changed and no longer aligns with organizational principles/goals.
   51. Toby Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:07 PM (#3939061)
The explanation suggested by Toby and Essex is \"#### happens". 100%, or nearly 100% of the unpleasantness can be blamed on injuries and bad luck with run distribution. We rolled boxcars again and again until our bankroll was gone.


Mikael, I think you are mistaking me for someone else. In my post, I said I see a lethargic team that irks me mainly for its atrocious baserunning and its over-patience with underperforming millionares. I agree completely that this is a mix of injuries, luck, and what I will call "morale" (but you can call "choking", I'm fine with that).

The big difference between you and me is you claim Francona has lost the clubhouse and should be fired and I see no reason to believe he has lost the clubhouse (do you? I ask again) and I am withholding judgment about whether he should be fired.
   52. Famous Original Joe C Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:13 PM (#3939068)
I think the Sox are correct to take the route of the Rooney family in Pittsburgh where once you have a guy he's THE GUY unless something so dramatic happens you believe THE GUY has changed and no longer aligns with organizational principles/goals.

This is right in my line of thinking, HW. I'm glad I'm not the only one.
   53. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:15 PM (#3939075)
Yeah, I agree (w #51), I don't understand where this "lost the clubhouse" stuff came from. I think that his clubhouse leadership clearly hasn't been working this season, so maybe we are splitting hairs, but "lost the clubhouse" usually means something else.
   54. SoSH U at work Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:21 PM (#3939086)
but "lost the clubhouse" usually means something else.


I agree. To me it means completely tuning him out/openly rebelling. Failing to be motivated properly by him is not the same.

Now, both might require the same fix - getting rid of him - if you don't believe he will be able to successfully reverse the trend. But whereas the first guy has to go (barring a complete roster overhaul), it's possible the latter guy can regain his standing with the players in a subsequent season with a new mix of talent.
   55. rr Posted: September 27, 2011 at 04:25 PM (#3939089)
Very few managers are actually great, and most great managers demand a level of control over the club which I think Theo is unlikely to want to give up.


This seems to me to be an argument in favor of keeping Francona, although I am not sure exactly what you mean by "control." I think where I would blame Francona most is continuing to run Wakefield and Weiland out there. Maybe there were no obvious better options, but I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that those decisions were made with Epstein's blessing. But I think some move should have been made--Aceves, something--about the SPs.

I can't see blaming him much for the errors, for Beckett and Lester, etc. Like you said, I think that falls as much on the guys at the center of the team leadership structure--presumably Varitek, maybe Pedroia--as on the manager. Like I said before, maybe Youkilis being gone has hurt them focus-wise.

And I agree that I see no reason to believe he has lost the clubhouse. My guess (and that is all it is) that the players feel bad for letting him down more than they want him gone.

I think the Sox are correct to take the route of the Rooney family in Pittsburgh where once you have a guy he's THE GUY unless something so dramatic happens you believe THE GUY has changed and no longer aligns with organizational principles/goals.

Fair enough, but this has been pretty dramatic. If Boston were just playing .360 ball, not .450 or .500, in September (9-16) they would be in.
   56. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 27, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#3939208)
I don't understand why we're not allowed to criticize Francona.

That aside, it's not clear to me that Francona has to go. When a good team chokes this badly, the manager has to shoulder some of the blame, and I'm sure if you ask Francona this winter, I imagine he'd take a good amount of it on his shoulders. And rightfully so.

As far as I can tell however, this discussion is about the Red Sox going forward, and what we expect. Does the FO need to exact some punishment on the team in the form of firings, trades, or whatever in order for them to be able to play next season to atone for this failure? Does the FO need to look at itself and rethink some things? As a dangerously emotional fan, I'm pissed that the Red Sox blew this, and I want some blood. I want somebody fired. I want John Lackey tied to a log and beaten with reeds. I want Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis imprisoned in hyperbaric chambers for the entirety of the winter. I want Josh Beckett to be chased by bees until he loses 20 pounds. I want the training staff to suffer thousands of nagging injuries. I want Carl Crawford...well, I don't really hate Carl Crawford. I want him to suffer amnesia and disappear to a remote cabin in New Hampshire and happily write books about confused teenagers.

The more rational side of me knows these things will (and probably should) not happen, and I wonder if firing Francona appeals more to my angry fan side, rather than having much meaningful impact on next year's team. Frankly, I'd rather see Lackey traded for Chone Figgins or Alex Rios or something, and I think that would have a greater impact on next year's team's performance (possibly negative, but at least I wouldn't have to look at John Lackey) than firing Francona. This team needs pitching, although even Lester and Beckett sucked when they were most needed. This team needs some strong leadership coming from somewhere, just to heal from this horrible collapse.
   57. Dan Posted: September 27, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#3939210)
I agree. To me it means completely tuning him out/openly rebelling. Failing to be motivated properly by him is not the same.

Now, both might require the same fix - getting rid of him - if you don't believe he will be able to successfully reverse the trend. But whereas the first guy has to go (barring a complete roster overhaul), it's possible the latter guy can regain his standing with the players in a subsequent season with a new mix of talent.


What exactly is the pragmatic difference between players tuning out the manager or failing to be motivated properly by him?

And if the solution is a new mix of talent, well that's not a solution for the Red Sox at all. 90% of this team is locked up going forward. So if this Francona can't get through to these guys, he needs to go.
   58. Dan Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:01 PM (#3939212)
My guess (and that is all it is) that the players feel bad for letting him down more than they want him gone.


I don't think anyone is arguing against this. But this isn't a reason to bring him back.

The problem isn't that the players hate or even dislike Francona. He simply has not been effective in leading them.
   59. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:04 PM (#3939216)
I also want Josh Beckett to be chased by bees
   60. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:06 PM (#3939225)
One thing the Sox can and should do for next year is inform John Lackey that he is not assured a spot in next year's starting rotation and he better come to camp ready to fight or he'll be a long reliever. The money is spent, but he has clearly demonstrated that he does not deserve any other guarantee besides the paycheck.
   61. Dan Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:07 PM (#3939226)
Regarding the pitching staff: how much has the pitching staff suffered from losing John Farrell? He always seemed like a strong voice and a leader of the pitchers, and probably helped Francona a lot in leading that half of the team. Curt Young doesn't seem like a bad pitching coach, but he doesn't have that same strong personality, and so might be ineffective trying to lead a pitching staff with guys like Beckett and Lackey on it. And without someone to assert authority on that part of team, Francona's authority overall is weakened.
   62. SoSH U at work Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:16 PM (#3939243)
What exactly is the pragmatic difference between players tuning out the manager or failing to be motivated properly by him?


I think I covered that in the second graph. It's possible Tito's just not pushing the right buttons this year, for whatever reason. The guys simply aren't responding to what he's doing, though after an offseason away, a slightly new mix of players on next year's roster, he could get it back.

It's also possible (and likely happens with more fiery managers) that their troops are simply done hearing the same message from the same guy. They may not be openly rebelling, but they're clearly not interested in what skip has to say.

Now it's likely impossible for us to identify between the two (and, hell, may be very difficult for those inside to ID), but it would seem the first condition would not necessarily require a managerial change (though it would be defensible). The second definitely would.
   63. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:22 PM (#3939250)
SoSH - I think you make good points but the question is will he be able to get the right buttons pushed next year and going forward? That for me is the crucial question here and it's one I sure as hell don't know the answer to.
   64. bigglou115 Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:24 PM (#3939254)
I just don't see a manager out there who would have done anything really different. Bullpen usage? The pen hasn't exactly been great, Baird has contributed to the collapse as much as anyone and he was a key piece (which makes him harder to replace mid-season). I guess in the end I think that managers are fungible, and articles like this tend to be mis-guided angst when a team underperforms.
   65. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:40 PM (#3939277)
One thing the Sox can and should do for next year is inform John Lackey that he is not assured a spot in next year's starting rotation and he better come to camp ready to fight or he'll be a long reliever. The money is spent, but he has clearly demonstrated that he does not deserve any other guarantee besides the paycheck.


One thing the Red Sox can do is force him into an MRI tube to find out if he's been masking an injury all year. If his elbow's shredded, he gets surgery and a year of servitude to the Red Sox on the back end of his contract. Them's the breaks when you sign a contract like that, I say.

If he's NOT hurt, then you do exactly as suggested above. But I strongly suspect he's hurt. Combine that with all the other nonsense and you have historic levels of awfulness.

Oh, and we need to go get a starter. Maybe 2. Maybe 3.
   66. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#3939288)
One thing the Red Sox can do is force him into an MRI tube..
...and seal up both ends?
   67. SoSH U at work Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:50 PM (#3939295)
That for me is the crucial question here and it's one I sure as hell don't know the answer to.


I don't think it's possible for folks on the outside to know. Hell, I don't think there's any way Theo could know for certain.
   68. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 27, 2011 at 06:57 PM (#3939301)
I also want Josh Beckett to be chased by bees

Finally something we can all come together on.
   69. Dale Sams Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:02 PM (#3939308)
Oh, and we need to go get a starter. Maybe 2. Maybe 3.


Wang and Edwin Jackson. The upgrades over Lackey and Wake are immediate. (#### me, Jackson is in STL? Being on the Sox would be like his 7th team in 9 years.) Sox don't need aces. They don't need 35 year old 'upside' projects. They need perfectly cromulent 100ERA+ pitchers.
   70. Jittery McFrog Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#3939309)
I'm usually a lurker here, and my take has basically been expressed by others in the thread. But since rehashing the same arguments is what the internet is all about:

Given the injuries and the quality of the other teams in the AL East, I don't see 89 wins and tied for the wildcard with two to play as being out of line with what one could expect from this team. They got exposed in areas where they didn't have depth -- that's on the front office. I don't think the fact that a bunch of the losses have come recently rather than being spread out in a more aesthetically pleasing way is important in itself.

Sure, I understand the "scouting"-type argument against Francona -- the team has looked bad in pretty much every way of late, and of course that makes his managerial skills look bad. But this looks an awful lot like a disappointment-colored post hoc explanation. To me Tito looks like the same tactically mediocre people-skilled manager he's always been, and the team looks like a team looks during a losing streak when it has to play a number of players who really shouldn't be starting on playoff-contending teams. Do people here simultaneously want to see guys like Doubront or Morales starting AND expect to get a 95-win team?
   71. Dan Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:06 PM (#3939310)
Sure, I understand the "scouting"-type argument against Francona -- the team has looked bad in pretty much every way of late, and of course that makes his managerial skills look bad. But this looks an awful lot like a disappointment-colored post hoc explanation. To me Tito looks like the same tactically mediocre people-skilled manager he's always been, and the team looks like a team looks during a losing streak when it has to play a number of players who really shouldn't be starting on playoff-contending teams. Do people here simultaneously want to see guys like Doubront or Morales starting AND expect to get a 95-win team?


There is some middle ground here. A team with an offense like this and a solid front end of the bullpen should be winning more than 6 out of 25 games regardless of who starts the games on the mound. Unless you're suggesting that the current roster the Red Sox are running out there is as bad as the 1962 Mets or 2003 Tigers, there's really no argument that this team hasn't massively underperformed for a month now.
   72. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:15 PM (#3939320)
40/Dag Nabbit: That was a nice article. You do consistently good work; thanks!
   73. Jittery McFrog Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:16 PM (#3939322)
There is some middle ground here.


Sure, but middle ground isn't necessarily more reasonable just for being in the middle.

A team with an offense like this and a solid front end of the bullpen should be winning more than 6 out of 25 games regardless of who starts the games on the mound.


And for a while they were. If those 25 games had been distributed differently throughout the season, would you feel differently?
   74. Dan Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3939330)
And for a while they were. If those 25 games had been distributed differently throughout the season, would you feel differently?


So the fact that this team hasn't won 2 consecutive games in a month is just a random arrangement of losses they were destined to have due to their talent level? The fact that they came into this month with a 9 game lead in the WIldcard was just lucky? If I'm misrepresenting your position let me know. I'm just trying to elucidate your argument.

I suppose one could believe that, but I think any reasonable person can see that that argument strains credibility.
   75. tfbg9 Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:30 PM (#3939338)
My two cents:

If Bard doesn't blow those games, we're in. To me, that's what stands out most. He does his job, and we ain't having this thread.

As for Tito, if the Sox get off to another bad start in '12 after this debacle, then I would say fire him.

A lot of "clubhouse stuff" may emerge after the season is over.
   76. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:32 PM (#3939341)
And for a while they were. If those 25 games had been distributed differently throughout the season, would you feel differently?


I would. I would "feel" differently because my expectations as a fan would be different. What are you getting at?

Statistically, I would argue that the way the Red Sox are losing now is different than the kind of of losing you are describing. We normally assume the order of wins and losses is random, each event is independent, ie, that one outcome has no effect on the likelihood of next outcome. However, to me it looks like we may need to call into question whether these losses are in fact independent events. Assumption of independent outcomes is an important statistical concept, and it effects the way we interpret what's going on. We're seeing something different than just a pretty good team with an unusual W-L order.
   77. Jittery McFrog Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:40 PM (#3939346)
So the fact that this team hasn't won 2 consecutive games in a month is just a random arrangement of losses they were destined to have due to their talent level?


Destined? No, that's not a fair representation of what I said at all.

As far as evaluating the talent of a manager, I don't see building a lead and then losing it as necessarily more damning than being and neck-and-neck the whole way, or sucking and then rallying. (It feels different as a fan, of course, but that's a different question.) I think one has to answer: was this team, all things considered (including injuries, divisional competition, etc.), a true-talent ~90-win team on the season? And, insofar as one can "scout" a manager, has Francona looked like the same flawed but reasonably good manager he's been in previous years, or has he "looked" different?

And, while I don't think I'm the cleverest person around, I do consider myself a "reasonable person", thankyouverymuch.
   78. Jittery McFrog Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:46 PM (#3939351)
Assumption of independent outcomes is an important statistical concept, and it effects the way we interpret what's going on. We're seeing something different than just a pretty good team with an unusual W-L order.


Assuming independence is always an approximation -- a player's cold streak may always be related to a nagging injury, or a personal issue, or any number of things unknown to a fan.

But there are many ways that events can be dependent, and the fire-Francona crowd is interpreting a particular one. That's what I'm saying is not justified on the numbers alone.
   79. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:51 PM (#3939358)
Granting I'm a Yankee fan, but I watch a fair bit of the Red Soxb/c I spend so much time in Boston, and to me, this isn't on Francona. It's on the trainers, Angry-Red Sox-Hating-Injury-God and maybe on Epstein.

Youkilis and Bucholz are openly injured, and to my eye, Lester and Crawford are clearly hiding injuries.

That's a huge loss of talent in a competitive division at one time. If you asked me (or most people) before the season, they'd have told you the Sox on paper were a 95 win team, but in the AL East, if the injury god bit, they might only win 85-90. And that's exactly what happened.

Is it curious that the injuries have crescendoed toward the end of the year? Sure. Is it bizarre that the Yankees get steady health (A-Rod excepted) from a team of 35 year olds while the Sox can't seem to keep anyone on the field? Yes, and may reflect a failing somewhere in the Red Sox organization.

I don't think the Red Sox have underachieved relative to the talent level they've put on the field in these September ballgame to a degree where you can say "oh, this is a choke job". The reason that so many Sox fans were flipping out when the Sox had a sizeable lead was that the talent level, particularly in starting pitching was just not very good. When those fears come to fruition, how can you say that it was choking that killed the cat when the collapse was predicted looking at the team on paper?

I've never seen my team collapse without thinking they've looked flat, and I've never seen my team run off a streak without thinking they look hot. Losing sucks, losing a big lead sucks more, and it doesn't surprise me that it leads to shitty body language and such, but I think the "mental errors" and whatnot is just your mind playing ex post tricks on you.
   80. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 07:59 PM (#3939369)
Lineup for tonight. Wow.

Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Ortiz DH
Lowrie 3B
Gonzalez 1B
Lavarnway C
McDonald RF
Crawford LF
Scutaro SS
   81. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:06 PM (#3939386)
I think the "mental errors" and whatnot is just your mind playing ex post tricks on you.
That's why I looked into the scorebook fielding errors. The Red Sox rate of scorebook errors from the first TB series through the present has been nearly triple their rate over the season previously. That isn't just my mind, that's real events as recorded.
   82. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:09 PM (#3939391)
That's a pretty radical change to the lineup, but it all basically follows a platoon logic. Lavarnway is in, I assume, because Tek is still hurting and Salty has sucked recently and has always sucked against lefties. Crawford moves down the order against a lefty. Lowrie's got a big platoon split and moves way up into the Youkilis slot.
   83. Lassus Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:09 PM (#3939392)
Lavarnawhatnow?
   84. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:11 PM (#3939393)
Ryan Lavarnway is our Jesus Montero. Destroyed pitchers all through the minors, most observers think he can't carry the defensive load at catcher.

Unlike Montero, though, Lavarnway has the boorish manners of a Yalie.
   85. Dale Sams Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:12 PM (#3939394)
and to me, this isn't on Francona


If you were manager. And the Sox had to play a game 163 on Thursday. Who would you start?

Now who do you think Tito is going to start?
   86. Lassus Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:13 PM (#3939397)
Unlike Montero, though, Lavarnway has the boorish manners of a Yalie.

Well done.
   87. Deacon Blues Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:19 PM (#3939405)
Unlike Montero, though, Lavarnway has the boorish manners of a Yalie.

hey now..
   88. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:22 PM (#3939407)
Kind of weird to start your defensively-challenged rookie catcher in one of the most important games of the season, but what the hell.
   89. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:29 PM (#3939410)
I think it'd be worse to start your slumping (choking?) platoon catcher who has a career 600 OPS (260/340) against lefties. Varitek's hurt, and can't play defense anyway, so Lavarnway's the right call.

And hey, shaking #### up can't be bad at this point.
   90. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:35 PM (#3939417)
Yeah, it works for me. In light of that catcher's framing study in which Varitek was one of the worst in baseball, Lavarnway might not be such a terrible defensive option, at least at that part of the game. He's probably already a better hitter.
   91. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#3939423)
I don't care if the lineup is in reverse alphabetical order as long as I don't see another mother ####### ####### three and a third with six runs pitching line from the starting pitcher.
   92. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 27, 2011 at 09:03 PM (#3939453)
Kind of weird to start your defensively-challenged rookie catcher in one of the most important games of the season, but what the hell.


Both Varitek and Saltalamacchia are hurt. I don't know how available either guy is.
   93. Nasty Nate Posted: September 27, 2011 at 09:07 PM (#3939459)
I also want Josh Beckett to be chased by bees

Finally something we can all come together on.


I dream of the day when the whole country comes together as one in peace and harmony, spurred by the universally common desire for Josh Beckett to be chased by bees, many many bees.
   94. Textbook Editor Posted: September 27, 2011 at 09:28 PM (#3939477)
If you were manager. And the Sox had to play a game 163 on Thursday. Who would you start?

Now who do you think Tito is going to start?


I honestly have no idea--none--who would get the ball for #163. I mean the options are bad and horrible and worse.
   95. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 27, 2011 at 09:36 PM (#3939482)
John Lackey is obviously the starter in Game 163. Ceetainly you have Johnny Wholestaff ready to go and a barbed hook the moment Lackey starts flailing, but I don't see really see how you start anyone other than Lackey if there's a playoff.

It would be great if we had a better starter, but we don't. It would be great if we'd tried out anyone else who could be a better starter, but we haven't.
   96. Dale Sams Posted: September 27, 2011 at 09:39 PM (#3939486)
Lackey on short rest? Over a BP game starting with Paps to Aceves maybe?
   97. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: September 27, 2011 at 09:43 PM (#3939489)
I suspect that pressure helps cause injuries, too.

It's a problem in the clubhouse


If Crawford's not hurt, the face he wears every day can only mean one thing: "I hate it here."
   98. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: September 27, 2011 at 10:07 PM (#3939503)
That's why I looked into the scorebook fielding errors. The Red Sox rate of scorebook errors from the first TB series through the present has been nearly triple their rate over the season previously. That isn't just my mind, that's real events as recorded.


That's what happens when you're playing second stringers or walking wounded at C, 3B, and LF.
   99. Steve M. Posted: September 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM (#3939513)
I haven't weighed-in on Sox Therapy for a while, but I'll add, as a lifelong Red Sox fan, I hope they lose out... I really do. I think the organization needs to catch its breath, press reset, and re-evaluate the long-term direction at several positions. This organization does not, in my opinion, have an internal solution for SS or RF (near or long-term); Kevin Youkilis, entering his age-33 season, will probably not be a productive, 150-game 3B; and the team simply cannot double-down on David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon with multi-year contracts. This winter is a major inflection point for the team.

Having said all that, there's no one I'd rather have manage the team long-term than Francona. IMO, criticism of his bullpen management is nit-picking; he's enlightened enough to evolve with the Front Office's analytical approaches and the team's cornerstone players appear to like him. The Sox aren't losing because Tito has "lost the clubhouse," they're losing because the middle of the rotation imploded and two players they have paid to be stars have turned in roughly replacement level performances... and they'll still win 90 games.
   100. Dale Sams Posted: September 28, 2011 at 03:14 AM (#3940552)
he's enlightened enough to evolve with the Front Office's analytical approaches


I've never seen evidence of that, and frankly the FO hasn't convinced me they do that either. 20 mill for a 105 OPS+ player?? 14 mill for a pinheaded pitcher who says he hates throwing at Fenway??

Too many old, fat upside projects and not enough solid, athletic 100 ERA+ hurlers.
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