10-03-2011: Thank you, Terry

The news broke last week: Terry Francona will not be back as manager of our Boston Red Sox. Thank you for eight amazing years, Terry. In the aftermath of the annoucement, it seems like the top management wanted him gone, and Tito graciously bowed out over Theo Epstein’s protests.

Looking back over the past eight years, you have to tip your cap for the job he’s done. When he was hired, no one expected the run of success the Sox have enjoyed until now. When the Sox ended their 86-year drought by coming back against the Yankees, Francona was at the helm. Francona’s got some awesome people skills – he had the trust of the players for almost the whole time, and I’m not sure that many managers could have lived with Manny Ramirez that long. Maybe more importantly, Francona handled the Boston media like a pro, never getting flustered, never letting things get out of proportion, never throwing his guys under the bus. Even with this year’s September debacle, Francona never named names or lost it publicly.

Certainly, Tito was not perfect. He got a lot of criticism for his inaction when things got bad, earning him the nickname, “Fran-coma”. He certainly had some questionable game calls which probably cost the Sox a handful of wins, but that’s just peanuts compared to his body of work here in Boston.

Look, they’re probably right that these players need someone new to come in here and straighten things up. There are plenty of good candidates. But be careful that you don’t go too reactionary here and hire a disciplinarian who can’t handle the press or gets down on his players too often. There are not many managers the caliber of Francona in those respects.

Francona mentioned that he supports DeMarlo Hale as his successor in Boston, which in general I think is a good idea. Hale is known to be an expert on the game and one of the most prepared guys in the business. The question is if he is a “new” enough voice that he can whip these players into shape, since the players are already familiar with him.


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