After the Red Sox historic September meltdown, Francona’s job was clearly on the line. The Sox were up nine games on the Tampa Bay Rays in the wildcard race and still did not make the postseason.
Is Francona to blame for the historic collapse?
Francona cannot control injuries to his pitching staff, bullpen, and position players. Having Clay Buchholz on the DL for the last few months of the season hurt the Red Sox pitching staff far more than any team can imagine.
The fact that Francona was handicapped by having to rely on pitchers such as John Lackey, Tim Wakefield, and Erik Bedard to win him games down the stretch may not be his fault. Lackey, Wakefield, and Bedard all had losing or tied records for the season.
Even though Francona cannot control who is on his team, the manager is supposed to manage his players on and off the field. It became clear at the end of the season that Francona couldn’t get his players to play their best on a consistent basis.
Some of the Red Sox in general seemed uninterested in the game down the stretch and it didn’t look like it was their best efforts. Losing 20 of your last 26 games depends not on which players are playing, but solely on who is managing the team.
Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston was quoted in a Sports Center interview on September 30 by saying some Sox pitchers (no one named specifically) on their off days would be drinking in the clubhouse. That by all means is unacceptable and as a manager, that should be in no way allowed.
The 2011 season was easily the worst for Terry Francona and it became vivid that he was losing control of his team but it’s hard to argue with his success.
In his eight years as the Sox manager, Francona led Boston to five postseason appearances, winning two ALCS and two World Series titles. Francona managed the Red Sox to a world title in his first year with the team in 2004, ending their 86-year drought.
Francona is one of the best managers in baseball and could possibly be the best Red Sox manager of all time. He was won 1,019 games and his record with the Red Sox was 734-531, bringing his winning percentage to .580. His winning percentage in the playoffs was more than superb, at .622.
Francona reversed the curse and brought the city of Boston a lot of success with the Red Sox. We will find out in time if firing Francona was a smart move or not but it’s hard to argue against a man that has won so many games in such little time, won two championships in four years, and was one of the best “players” managers in recent memory.