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   101. Darren Posted: September 28, 2011 at 03:18 AM (#3940555)
It's pretty clear that the Front Office wasn't thrilled with Francona before this--he was managing as a lame duck, which is pretty rarely done with a guy who's secure.

And I'd like to ask this. If you believe that the players, not the manager, are responsible for getting the most out of themselves, then what exactly is a manager's job? Tactical decisions alone?
   102. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 28, 2011 at 03:26 AM (#3940566)
20 mill for a 105 OPS+ player??


That's an awfully cynical viewing of Crawford. As I'm sure you are aware 5 of his previous 6 seasons were over 110 OPS+ and he does (or did) a LOT more than just OPS skills. Base stealing and defense were a big part of the equation with him.
   103. tfbg9 Posted: September 28, 2011 at 03:37 AM (#3940579)
Bard did his best to blow another, came up short.

Seriously, he has like a 12 ERA this month. He is a Goat among goats.
   104. Dale Sams Posted: September 28, 2011 at 03:48 AM (#3940584)
He is a Goat among goats.


His spot needs to be given to Albers...but there's not enough time in the season for Tito to come to that realization.
   105. Textbook Editor Posted: September 28, 2011 at 03:54 AM (#3940586)
Dale, all due respect, Albers' numbers went in the shitter August/September. I mean, you can say Bard's been bad, but Albers isn't a great option.
   106. Dale Sams Posted: September 28, 2011 at 04:03 AM (#3940599)
but Albers isn't a great option.


I was basing that on the three appearances before he gave up runs in NY. I actually didn't know he threw in that 6-2 loss. I've been watching a lot of the games on gamecast or just turning them off in the last few weeks. I had *thought* albers looked great in those 3 appearances and had turned some sort of corner.
   107. chris p Posted: September 28, 2011 at 04:09 AM (#3940603)
fellas, let's talk about ryan lavarnway. catcher of the future? or catcher of the present!?!?!!
   108. Textbook Editor Posted: September 28, 2011 at 04:21 AM (#3940610)
I'd start Lavarnway tomorrow, and maybe for 163, esp. if it's a LHP
   109. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: September 28, 2011 at 08:38 AM (#3940649)
If anything , this September collapse has grounded my expectations for the next few years - unless they trade for a pitcher which I can't see how it would be even possible to get anything decent anyway....
   110. Toby Posted: September 28, 2011 at 05:18 PM (#3941121)
And I'd like to ask this. If you believe that the manager is responsible for getting the most out of the players, then how do you not credit Francona for getting the most out of (for example) Ellsbury? How do you not credit Francona for the incredible May-August this team had? Why does six weeks of suck outweigh four months of greatness? Especially when in the aggregate -- and as others here have also pointed out -- squeezing 89 wins out of this roster of available players (given all the injuries) is remarkable?
   111. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 28, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3941137)
And I'd like to ask this. If you believe that the manager is responsible for getting the most out of the players, then how do you not credit Francona for getting the most out of (for example) Ellsbury? How do you not credit Francona for the incredible May-August this team had? Why does six weeks of suck outweigh four months of greatness? Especially when in the aggregate -- and as others here have also pointed out -- squeezing 89 wins out of this roster of available players (given all the injuries) is remarkable?


I think he deserves credit/blame for the team and season as a whole, not just one guy or a few months. I think even the biggest Red Sox hater would have conceded when the season started that this was a 95 win club, they are going to underachieve. No he is not solely responsible but he bears some responsibility.

90 (92 hopefully) wins out of this roster is far from remarkable. Yes they have had some injuries but they have also blown a number of games and had a number of players put in catstrophically bad performances. If, as I believe we do, we acknowledge Francona for having a role in Ellsbury's season we also have to acknowledge his culpability in Lackey's season. We can credit him for Aceves, but should we not then blame him for Crawford?

I love Tito and think he has been an excellent manager. I also think he has had a poor season. I'm not certain I want him gone but I think it's a fair question, especially if they finish this collapse off.
   112. SoSH U at work Posted: September 28, 2011 at 05:37 PM (#3941159)
And I'd like to ask this. If you believe that the manager is responsible for getting the most out of the players, then how do you not credit Francona for getting the most out of (for example) Ellsbury? How do you not credit Francona for the incredible May-August this team had? Why does six weeks of suck outweigh four months of greatness? Especially when in the aggregate -- and as others here have also pointed out -- squeezing 89 wins out of this roster of available players (given all the injuries) is remarkable?


I think that's one of the biggest flaws we have when evaluating managers. It seems that any success a player enjoys, even if it's beyond what we expected, is almost always ascribed entirely to the player, but we're quick to assign blame to the skipper/org. if the guy doesn't develop as we anticipated.

For example, there are probably a number of things Joe Torre/the Yankees could have done differently with Mariano Rivera (insisted on keeping "proven" closer Wetteland around, moved him back to the starting rotation, etc.), and perhaps a great many of those alternate paths wouldn't have resulted in Mariano becoming Mariano. But when we look at Torre's managerial career, we'll often say, 'Sure anyone can win with Mariano Rivera, Jeter, et al.'
   113. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 28, 2011 at 05:50 PM (#3941189)
Toby -

I can start with a point of agreement. I think your argument in itself is sound - the conclusion follows from the premise. If the Red Sox had overachieved for five months and came crashing down to earth hard in September, it would be right to credit Francona for the overachievement.

I just dispute the premise. The Red Sox played, over the first five months of the season, exactly to expectations. Some players beat expectations and some failed to meet them, but it pretty much balanced out. (For every Ellsbury, there's a Crawford, for every Beckett, there's a Lackey.) The team's numbers were right where everyone expected them. How do you see the first five months as overachievement? What was wrong with the preseason projections that you can see now but everyone failed to note either before the season or during the season, until the collapse?

This seems to me to be a form of the "Luck is the Residue of Design" argument - the Sox actually weren't very good. I think it's wrong, and we were not crazy for thinking they'd be good in the preseason and for thinking that their right-on-track performance over the first five months of the season reflected their real ability.
   114. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 28, 2011 at 05:52 PM (#3941196)
It seems that any success a player enjoys, even if it's beyond what we expected, is almost always ascribed entirely to the player, but we're quick to assign blame to the skipper/org. if the guy doesn't develop as we anticipated.
Francona obviously gets credit for players who develop (and he has a very good record when given a major league ready player), but I just don't see how this applies to the 2011 season. The 2011 team as a whole is clearly below expectations, even with some individual players above them.
   115. SoSH U at work Posted: September 28, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#3941205)
Francona obviously gets credit for players who develop (and he has a very good record when given a major league ready player), but I just don't see how this applies to the 2011 season. The 2011 team as a whole is clearly below expectations, even with some individual players above them.


I wasn't really commenting specifically on Francona, but in general. Managers don't get credit for players developing under them in equal measure with the blame they get for players not developing to our expectations. It goes for virtually all managers.
   116. Nasty Nate Posted: September 28, 2011 at 06:06 PM (#3941222)
Darren Posted: September 27, 2011 at 11:18 PM (#3940555)

It's pretty clear that the Front Office wasn't thrilled with Francona before this--he was managing as a lame duck, which is pretty rarely done with a guy who's secure.


I'm not sure that's true and certainly don't think that is "pretty clear" at all. You seem to have an overall strange viewpoint on Francona.
   117. Toby Posted: September 28, 2011 at 06:18 PM (#3941256)
Because of injuries, this team has had 52 games started by people not in the original rotation. (By comparison, the Yankees had 18; the Rays 14.) The team has had its fair share of other injuries to relievers and position players too. But given the pitching, I think all in all, getting 90 wins out of this roster in spite of the injuries is a positive accomplishment. The lion's share of those 52 lost starts came over the last six weeks.

You guys are looking for a scapegoat.
   118. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 28, 2011 at 06:28 PM (#3941277)
Did you think 90 wins would be a good outcome before September? This seems extremely after-the-fact to me - the majority of the injuries had hit before September, but the club was plugging along just fine.
   119. Nasty Nate Posted: September 28, 2011 at 06:29 PM (#3941279)
You guys are looking for a scapegoat.


oh, no, trust me, no one is looking for a scapegoat. we have found a scapegoat and he is a big dumb starting pitcher who is having one of the worst seasons of all time.
   120. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 28, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#3941334)
The Red Sox did have an unusually large number of starts given to pitchers not in their opening day rotation. However, most of that is about DiceK missing the season, and swapping your #5 for your #6 isn't a huge loss. Of the front four, the Sox missed two starts by both Lester and Beckett, four by Lackey, and fifteen by Buchholz. That's a pretty normal injury rate - half a season lost for one of your front four.

On the offensive side, the Red Sox injury rate was perfectly normal for their recent history. They gave 22% of PA to guys who weren't in the lineup to start the season, compared to 21% in 2009, 26% in 2008, 16% in 2007, and 22% in 2006. 2010 is the only year recently when the Sox have lost significant amounts of their lineup to injury, with 36% of PA going to non-regulars.

I'd say the Red Sox projected as a 96-98 win team, and while they had a few more injuries than you'd project, the injuries were clustered among their weakest players. With injuries, this was something like a 95-win team.
   121. Joel W Posted: September 28, 2011 at 07:16 PM (#3941364)
What you do with the 4 lost pythagorean wins and even more lost situationally is up to you I suppose, i.e. how much you want to blame Francona. Still the Red Sox have a vastly superior run differential to Tampa and it probably has something to do with luck.
   122. Toby Posted: September 28, 2011 at 08:12 PM (#3941427)
Hmm, you projected them as a 96.5 win team at the beginning of the season. You think they have had only 1.5 wins worth of injuries above the norm? Interesting.

I guess when they were on a 100-win pace that was in spite of Francona and now that they're on a 90.5-win pace that's because of him. Fine, but by your logic I would have expected blog posts at the end of August in praise of Francona.
   123. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: September 28, 2011 at 08:45 PM (#3941487)
I'm looking forward to the Sox having a good shot at backing into the playoffs and then making at least the ALCS. Beckett, Lester, and Bedard are a perfectly adequate front 3, and anything can happen in a short series. But I'm aware that that's the minority viewpoint.

Likewise, people pissed their pants after the 2-11 start, and then were massively overconfident after the ensuing 80-41 stretch. Get over yourselves. You're part of the problem.
   124. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 28, 2011 at 08:50 PM (#3941496)
I guess when they were on a 100-win pace that was in spite of Francona and now that they're on a 90.5-win pace that's because of him. Fine, but by your logic I would have expected blog posts at the end of August in praise of Francona.
I spent most of the season defending Francona. I spend most of every season defending Francona. I was planning on writing up how Francona has once against guided an excellent team to an excellent season, before the unpleasantness.

I think this collapse has been a peculiar event that requires explanation, and I think that there is evidence of widespread choking - the errors and the bad pitching/defense in the clutch are the clearest objective evidence - and if that's really going on, it's a clubhouse problem, which is a manager problem.
   125. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 28, 2011 at 08:55 PM (#3941499)
Toby - if you want to see what six wins of injuries looks like, that's the 2010 Red Sox. This team was not nearly in that class. I think this team got mild overperformance from their offense to balance out some of the 2-4 wins lost to injury compared to normal injury rates.
   126. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 28, 2011 at 09:00 PM (#3941507)
I'm looking forward to the Sox having a good shot at backing into the playoffs and then making at least the ALCS. Beckett, Lester, and Bedard are a perfectly adequate front 3, and anything can happen in a short series. But I'm aware that that's the minority viewpoint.

Likewise, people pissed their pants after the 2-11 start, and then were massively overconfident after the ensuing 80-41 stretch. Get over yourselves. You're part of the problem.


Tut tut, it was only 2-10! I appreciate you thinking we're important enough to be part of the problem.

You may be right. I think a few of us have espoused that very possibility (I know I have, Dale too I think) but my confidence in that is waning. Part of that was predicated on them getting in with some room to spare and lining up the pitching. Instead, the best case scenario is John Lackey for Game One with Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Erik Bedard all looking like they are not right.

I wouldn't be shocked if what you say unfolds but the suckitude on the pitching staff has extended to virtually every pitcher at this point.
   127. Jittery McFrog Posted: September 28, 2011 at 10:00 PM (#3941583)
I'd say the Red Sox projected as a 96-98 win team, and while they had a few more injuries than you'd project, the injuries were clustered among their weakest players. With injuries, this was something like a 95-win team.


I don't think that fits the data. First look at the rate stats:

Starting Position
Players (>100 G) ZiPS OPS+ OPS+ Diff

Adrian Gonzalez 151 155 +4
Carl Crawford 119 85 -34
Kevin Youkilis 129 123 -6
Dustin Pedroia 118 128 +10
David Ortiz 124 153 +29
Jacoby Ellsbury 91 147 +56
Marco Scutaro 88 109 +21
Jarrod Saltalamacc79 95 +16

Other Position
Players (>150 PA)

J.D. Drew 116 68 -58
Jed Lowrie 95 83 -12
Jason Varitek 90 92 +2
Darnell McDonald 86 88 +2
Josh Reddick 83 109 +26

Starter (>10 GS) ZiPS ERA+ ERA+

Jon Lester 137 122 -15
Clay Buchholz 117 123 +6
John Lackey 107 66 -41
Josh Beckett 107 147 +40
Tim Wakefield 94 83 -11
Andrew Miller 74 77 +3
Erik Bedard 114 107 -7

Projected SP

Daisuke Matsuzaka 106 81 -25

RP/Occasional SP
(<10 GS, >20 IP) ZiPS ERA+ ERA+

Jonathan Papelbon 139 159 +20
Daniel Bard 139 127 -12
Dan Wheeler 113 98 -25
Scott Atchison 109 132 +23
Alfredo Aceves 101 162 +61
Matt Albers 97 90 -7
Michael Bowden 91 107 +16
Kyle Weiland 76 56 -20

Among players with a lot of playing time there were 2 big underperformers (Crawford, Lackey). Drew also underperformed in a big way, but didn't play so much and was in large part replaced by an solid overperformer (Reddick). There were 2 big overperformers (Ellsbury, Beckett), with honorable mentions to Ortiz and Scutaro.

That doesn't fit the narrative of a team that, INJURIES INCLUDED, underperformed by 5 wins.

The alternative narrative is better supported by the data -- the team didn't underperform, but the best performers played less, and some really bad players that one expected to be bad picked up a lot of playing time.

This was a weakness in roster construction. Sure, an abstract 98-win team might generally become 95-win or so with the amount of lost time this team has had. But this wasn't a general 98-win team, it was a top-heavy 98-win team with depth issues that got exposed.

e.g. Replacing a #5 starter with a #6 generally isn't so bad. But on this roster it was. #6 was any of 45-year old Wakefield who was below replacement level last year, lottery ticket Andrew Miller (projected ERA+ 74), Kyle Weiland, Doubront, etc etc. And this was hardly a midseason thing -- Dice-K only made 7 starts. This was the structure of the team for basically the whole season. That is on the front office.

And that's before Buchholz gets hurt, and before we take into account the great advantage it would have been to have the option of sitting the -1.2 bWAR John Lackey in favor of a remotely adequate alternative.

Or consider Youk. Youkilis getting hurt was partly bad luck. But it was also a pretty obvious risk going into the season with the shift to 3B. It was a risk that was built into the roster. It had little to do with Tito or underperformance and a lot to do with the front office.

With injuries included, I just don't see a 95-win team. I see a team that, exposed by injuries, performed to expectations, which is about ~90 wins.

Did you think 90 wins would be a good outcome before September? This seems extremely after-the-fact to me - the majority of the injuries had hit before September, but the club was plugging along just fine.


Apologies for answering a question not directed at me but: Depends on when. Obviously at the end of August I'd say no, given that they'd already won a bunch of games. But if you told me at the beginning of the season who would get hurt and how much playing time each player would get in total, I'd say 90 wins would be pretty reasonable. And I think the latter question is the standard Francona should be judged against.
   128. Jittery McFrog Posted: September 28, 2011 at 10:01 PM (#3941585)
if you want to see what six wins of injuries looks like, that's the 2010 Red Sox. This team was not nearly in that class.


But it's not just the magnitude of the injuries, it's also who the replacements are. (Again, apologies for answering a question for someone else).
   129. Dan Posted: September 28, 2011 at 10:31 PM (#3941615)
From Jon Heyman, take it for whatever you think it's worth:

• Terry Francona's two-year, option for $8-million-plus seemed to be a foregone conclusion to be picked up at year's end, but the Red Sox collapse, which would be historic if they don't beat the Rays and make the playoffs, may put that into question. Sources indicate some Red Sox higher-ups question whether Francona is "aggressive enough'' with his players. Francona has gotten great mileage over the years from being lenient and doing whatever it takes to keep players happy, but there's a question whether the team is together this year. Some suggest that starting pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey have formed a clique that may sometimes include catcher Jason Varitek but few others. There is also some upset over Beckett declining to pitch to anyone but Varitek. The other issue, pointed out by excellent Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo, is that a few players don't appear to be in top shape. It still seems improbable that Francona -- twice a winner in World Series sweeps after the Red Sox had not won since 1918 -- would not be brought back. But this has been one strange season for Boston, which is 7-19 in September and could become the first team to blow a 10-game wild card lead.
   130. ray james Posted: September 28, 2011 at 10:38 PM (#3941620)
I haven't seen any mention of the performance of pitching coach Curt Young yet. I have to say, seeing what happened to the pitching staff, I'm not all that impressed.
   131. ray james Posted: September 28, 2011 at 10:51 PM (#3941636)
I was think this about this season and I the feeling I have I've experienced once before, the Celtics in 1983. They too had a load of talent, great expectations and a coach who had taken them all the way. But the team karma was bad and they fell apart.
   132. Dan Posted: September 29, 2011 at 04:29 AM (#3944431)
Well, it was a good 7 years and 5 months, Tito. Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.
   133. McCoy Posted: September 29, 2011 at 04:34 AM (#3944456)
Theo and Tito in Chicago next year! And this time it will be anyone's guess as to which team they'll be working for!
   134. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 29, 2011 at 04:59 AM (#3944559)
I was think this about this season and I the feeling I have I've experienced once before, the Celtics in 1983. They too had a load of talent, great expectations and a coach who had taken them all the way. But the team karma was bad and they fell apart.


Wow Ray, that's a great analogy. If this team comes back with the pride that team came back with the next year I'm OK with that.

I haven't seen any mention of the performance of pitching coach Curt Young yet. I have to say, seeing what happened to the pitching staff, I'm not all that impressed.


Honestly, I think there is no question. I think he's got as much chance of being pitching coach next year as I do.
   135. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: September 29, 2011 at 05:00 AM (#3944562)
Firing Tito would be an understandable reaction. Firing Theo would be the height of idiocy. Thank ####### God John Henry runs this team and not you plebs.
   136. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 29, 2011 at 05:07 AM (#3944582)
Firing the guy who put together a pitching staff that was relying on Tim Wakefield and Kyle Weiland in the biggest games of the year would be idiocy? I don't think he should go either but right now I think everything is on the table.
   137. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: September 29, 2011 at 05:16 AM (#3944592)
Going into this season I can dig out literally 100 posts talking about how absolutely badass the Red Sox were going to be due to the depth of their starting pitching. It didn't ####### work out, and at the same time Theo made a sweet ####### trade for Erik Bedard who was roughly a #2 level starter and uninjured his time for the Sox. So you're seriously going to list that as his big fault? #### ####### happens, dood.

Outside of signing Lee, what else could Theo have done for the rotation?
   138. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: September 29, 2011 at 05:54 AM (#3944600)
Freddy Garcia cost the Yankees about $24 and some blankets.

That's one name off the top of my head. Beyond that, the lack of anything in the minors to help has to be on Theo? Part of that is necessary trades have taken away guys who might have helped but still, the top of the Sox system was barren.
   139. Dan Posted: September 29, 2011 at 05:57 AM (#3944604)
A big part of the reason that the Yankees were able to sign guys like Garcia and Colon was that their rotation had some question marks in February. The Red Sox rotation was set 1-5, and even the 6th starter was set. Why would any of the fringe guys looking to prove themselves and get MLB innings sign with a team that already had a rotation of Lester - Beckett - Buchholz - Lackey - Matsuzaka setup with Wakefield basically guaranteed the first shot at a slot when any of the first 5 went down?
   140. Textbook Editor Posted: September 29, 2011 at 06:02 AM (#3944607)
Outside of signing Lee, what else could Theo have done for the rotation?


He could have not signed Lackey, for starters. As others have pointed out, Cameron's $ + Lackey's $ could easily have added up to a decent bid for Holliday... which would have kept us from signing Crawford (who is dead to me, dead).

So, really, this clustrfuck started last year. It's only this year that we got good and fullyfucked from his ###### after the 2009 season.

Clean house.
   141. Textbook Editor Posted: September 29, 2011 at 06:33 AM (#3944632)
Epstein Reaction

This doesn't sound like a guy bringing back his manager for 2012.
   142. caprules Posted: September 30, 2011 at 02:10 PM (#3945982)
If Theo believed that Francona was part of the problem and he wasn't pulling the team out of its epic collapse, wouldn't it have been worth it to let him go and see if another manager could get the team into the playoffs? Was it because the team at the end of the season wasn't likely to go deep anyway?
   143. booond Posted: September 30, 2011 at 02:26 PM (#3945997)
I was think this about this season and I the feeling I have I've experienced once before, the Celtics in 1983. They too had a load of talent, great expectations and a coach who had taken them all the way. But the team karma was bad and they fell apart.


Bill Fitch was more disciplinarian. He was a tactician. They grew tired of him; the children ready to become adults. The Celtics hired KC Jones who rolled the ball onto the court and kept things light.

In this regard then, with the adults acting as children, they need a disciplinarian who makes them clean their rooms and eat all their dinner.

Who that is I'm not sure.
   144. villageidiom Posted: September 30, 2011 at 04:35 PM (#3946180)
In this regard then, with the adults acting as children, they need a disciplinarian who makes them clean their rooms and eat all their dinner.
Larry Bowa would listen if they called, but he'd switch the clubhouse beer for Bushmills.
   145. booond Posted: September 30, 2011 at 04:52 PM (#3946193)
Larry Bowa would listen if they called, but he'd switch the clubhouse beer for Bushmills.


There's a difference between disciplinarian and maniac.
   146. Ozzie's gay friend Posted: October 01, 2011 at 08:01 AM (#3947168)
I though this article summed it up perfectly, well put/
   147. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: October 01, 2011 at 03:36 PM (#3947293)
In this regard then, with the adults acting as children, they need a disciplinarian who makes them clean their rooms and eat all their dinner.


Totally agree. When the players act like adults, a discplinarian turns everybody against the manager. When the players all act like assclowns, somebody needs to slap the #### out of them.

Unfortuantely, most asskicking managers want a lot of autonomy, which this front office will never give.
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