At the post-mortem press conference held Thursday at Fenway Park, it didn't take long for the topic of Terry Francona's job security to be broached.
"Obviously, it's a question you have to ask," acknowledged general manager Theo Epstein. "Tito and I spent some time talking today, just kind of catching up about the season and talking about what the next few days will look like. We're going to get together -- ownership, Larry (Lucchino CEO), I and Tito -- over the next few days and talk about the season and talk about the future.
"We're less than 24 hours removed from the end of the season, so we need some time to calm down, get objective and look at ourselves, look at 2011 and look ahead and make best decisions for everybody."
"I can't answer that question without saying that we've already talked about it -- John (Henry), Tom (Werner), Larry and I -- and nobody blames what happened in September on Tito. That would be totally irresponsible, totally shortsighted and wouldn't recognize everything that he means to the organization and to all our successes, including, at times, during 2011."
While we were havnig our pity party yesterday, Scott came out as the voice of reason and made a case for why both Theo and Tito should remain with the Sox. All other arguments aside, his first point, their track record of success, is the only one that really matters.
Terry Francona is the best Red Sox manager, if not ever, at least in our lifetimes. Sure, it's possible we win in 04 and 07 with someone else at the helm -- you can play the hypothetical game all day long -- but the fact of the matter is that Tito lead us to those two Championships. No one else.
Francona has also lead us to the second most wins in all of baseball during his tenure. Sure, not every move he's made has worked out. We can second-guess him all day long, and often do. But you don't win as often as he does if you're not an excellent manager. People like to joke that he only "fills out the lineup card", but that's an insult to all he's done for this team and its fans.
The 2011 Red Sox collapse was embarrassing. It's understandable that we want to see someone's head roll for it. But to let Tito be the scapegoat is not only nearsighted, but foolish. Take a look around the majors. Take a good look. See anyone else you'd rather have managing this team? I don't.
Whether or not Terry wants to stick around and manage this team for another year, well, that's an entirely different conversation.
UDATE: As I'm writing this, word is coming out that the Sox will not pick up Tito's option and that he's "sick of the whole thing" anyway. Can't say I blame him. Check out the links below for more details.
On Page 2, this offseason should be interesting
Francona alleged a lack of clubhouse chemistry, while Epstein indicated that several players haven’t met the Red Sox’ standards for peak physical fitness and criticized his own decision-making on recent free agent signings.
And now, it seems nearly certain the Sox are bound for an offseason of changes, likely drastic ones.
Neither Epstein nor Francona were willing to directly address whether they will, or even if they want to, remain with the organization, with Francona sounding particularly undecided.
Both are expected to meet with ownership in the coming days.
“We all failed collectively, and we have to live with that,” Epstein said with team president Larry Lucchino in attendance. “There was a lot of talent in that clubhouse, and we didn’t get results commensurate with that talent.”
Herald - Red Sox a team in turmoil
This is sort of a continuation of what I wrote on page one, but I think making drastic changes to this club would be a ginormous mistake.
The 2012 Red Sox, as currently assembled, are going to be a hungry squad. Most of these players have half a year to sit at home and stew over the way this season fell apart. They'll watch hundreds of hours of game film, pouring over missed opportunities. Hundreds more in a batting cage, perfecting their swing.
Sure, you'll also have the guys that are probably already on a beach in the Bahamas, who couldn't wait for the season to end. They'll forget about baseball for a few months until they're forced to come back to it. But those guys are the vast minority.
Most members of this team are proud. And I'm sure they're angry. Someone is going to pay for this collapse.
We can either let it be our own, and re-shape our franchise because of one bad month of baseball. Or we can re-assemble the troops and take it out on the other members of the American League. Bring back Papi. Bring back Papelbon. Pick up Tito's option. Let (force) Theo to finish out his current contract in Fenway.
If we play our cards right, next season's Sox are going to be a scary bunch.
Rest of the links:
CSNNE - Buckley: 'It would have been worse without Tito' | Bruins know how Red Sox feel post-collapse | Herald - Blame it all on excuses | Terry Francona’s time may be up | Fixing John Lackey’s game ‘big priority’ for ‘12 | In closing, Papelbon leads | Globe - Terry Francona reportedly could be out as Red Sox manager | Fundamental changes needed | NESN - Reports: Terry Francona Parting Ways With Red Sox After Eight Seasons on Boston's Bench | Tom Werner Hopes Conditioning Methods at Liverpool Can Help Red Sox Avoid Late-Season Breakdowns