We've been having fun hating on everyone and everything today, mostly because that's the only way we can handle what the Red Sox did in September. But this post isn't going to be like that. This post is going to ask you to put down the pitchforks and torches, step back from the walls of the castle, and try to think reasonably.
Both made serious missteps before and during the 2011 season, but Theo Epstein and Terry Francona should return as the main cogs in the Red Sox managing team.
Why? I can think of three main reasons.
1. They've established a track record of success. In the eight seasons under Epstein and Francona, the Red Sox have amassed 744 wins, second in all of baseball to, of course, the Yankees (771). Only three other teams have even scratched the 700-win surface -- the Angels, Phillies, and Cardinals. A sustained run of winning is really hard to accomplish, giant payroll or not. The Cubs, Mets, and Dodgers all spend significant amounts on payroll, and have won 645, 654, and 675 games, respectively, over the same period. When you have a winning formula, which the Red Sox have found with Francona and Epstein, along with this ownership, you don't throw it away just to prove a point. You don't throw it away just to appease a fanbase who is calling for someone's (anyone's) head. The Patriots didn't axe Belichick after the 18-1 season for this very reason.
2. They work well together. While it's been reported that they've bristled at one another at times, Tito and Theo share similar philosophies. Both believe in steadiness. Both believe in, for the most part, the idea of regression to the mean, and that things even out over the course of a season. Both believe in saying as little as possible to the media (and in being pretty pleasant in what they do say). It's not like we have a stat-nerd GM paired with Dusty Baker. These guys are on the same page. Maybe it's to their detriment in some cases -- maybe the lack of urgency rubbed off on the team to a degree. But that can be overcome -- just see reason number 3.
3. We've seen in this town that teams can overcome collapses without being torn apart. Look no further than last year's Bruins. In 2010, they choked away a seemingly locked-in playoff win against the Flyers. Many B's fans were calling for the heads of coach Claude Julien or captain Zdeno Chara, saying the team didn't play with enough fire, didn't have enough heart, or couldn't come through in the clutch. Sound familiar? The Bruins brought back the same principal members of the group (Julien, Chara, Lucic, Krejci, Bergeron, Recchi, etc.), maintained the same attitude, and got a vastly different result in 2011. There's no reason that can't happen with the Red Sox in 2012; in fact, I would call it likely that we would see a significantly better result from the same core next year.
I'm as disappointed in this team as anyone, and I'm frustrated with Theo and Tito. The Lackey contract was disgusting. The Crawford contract, one year in, is Zitotian. The farm system, post-Gonzalez trade, isn't terribly strong.
Meanwhile, Tito overworked his bullpen (though you could argue, which I would, that's the fault of the starting pitching), made panicky lineup decisions, and couldn't seem to get any kind of urgency in any players not named Dustin or Jacoby.
These were mistakes, but mistakes are made even by the best people and the best leaders. But the Red Sox would be making a bigger mistake to let one month overshadow an eight-year track record of success.