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Theo Epstein says he and Terry Francona are on the same page

Sep 23, 2011, 6:56 PM EDT

Theo Epstein, Terry Francona Reuters

Peter Gammons begs to differ, based on some comments he made Thursday, but Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said Friday that all is well between him and manager Terry Francona.

“There is no disconnect between me and Tito,” Epstein was quoted as saying by the Boston Herald. “I think anyone who’s been around the club on a daily basis can see that. We talk several times a day. We spend a ton of time together. I was in (Francona’s office) today, laughing, joking, like I was yesterday, like I was the day before with him. Obviously, less laughing and joking this month than previously because of the way things are going. We’re on the same page. For eight years, I’ve respected and admired him. I believe the feeling’s mutual.”

Francona’s contract isn’t guaranteed beyond 2011 — there are options worth $4.25 million for 2012 and $4.5 million for 2013 — so there will be some speculation about his job status if the Red Sox complete their collapse and miss the playoffs.

Francona, for what it’s worth, seems to only have this year on his mind.  Asked about 2012, he said:

I don’t feel any different than I ever have. The organization not only has the right, but it’s their obligation to get the right person, the person they think is the best. If at some point they think it needs to be somebody else — other than that, I think it’s disrespectful for me to spend one waking moment think about my situation. We need to win games, so that’s how I intend to do it.

No matter what happens in the next week, it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox bailing on the guy who won World Series in 2004 and ’07.

  1. pisano - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    I don’t see how anyone can put the blame on Francona, but Theo is another story. He has blown millions on supposed good free agents, that being said, most team owners would hold him accountable. Getting back to Tito, how can he be responsible for these guys breaking down through out the season? injuries happen. This guy is a good manager and his players play for him, and if Boston gets rid of him he won’t be out of a job for long. Boston would be foolish to fire him.l

    • bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:03 PM

      Agreed on Francona. But Theo really is getting a bum wrap over this slump. When they make the big commitments to players – such as Carl Crawford – the Trio is consulted and gives their blessing. Which only makes sense when you have one of the top financiers in the country as the principle owner.

      If the team hadn’t averaged 90 Wins a season under Theo – making the playoffs in 6 of 8 seasons so far, with 2 World Series titles, which is the primary force behind NESN turning into one of the most profitable cable stations in the country then perhaps it would be different But this season is not yet over – and even if it is, I find it hard to fathom that next year Theo and Francona won’t be right back where they are.

  2. bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    I never thought I’d say this even 10 years ago, Gammons is another relic that needs to go away. His problem with embellishing stories has only grown in recent years.

    As far as this story goes, he either made it up – or betrayed his buddy Theo’s confidence. I choose the former because I’ve witnessed some of Gammons Hall of Fame embellishing first hand.

  3. aaronmoreno - Sep 23, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    If they’re both on the same page then fire them both!!!!

    Am I doing it right?

    • bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:34 PM

      Well you are already have two thumbs down, so I’d say yes you are.

  4. bigharold - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    At issue here is not a disconnect between the GM and Manager, field strategy or injuries but team make up and the bottom line is that Epstein is the responsible party.

    If anything injuries will give Epstein an out for this year’s late season fade. While he is lauded for his intelligence and ability I don’t agree. He is a good GM but not a great one. A myth was constructed around him because of 2004. A myth that upon closer examination is undeserved, especially when you consider that the 2004 team’s foundation was put in place by his predecessor. The 2007 team was much more of his making and between the two WS wins he’s attained an overblown reputation that will not go away anytime soon. Say anything else you want about him, … he was the GM that was at the helm when the curse was broken and that is going to get him a lot of slack rightly or wrongly. But, this years team is his and no one else’s so he should be the guy that gets the attention.

    A GMs job to get the talent and have a plan B at the ready should things not go to form due to injury, unexpected production drop off or anything else. Is Epstein to blame is not the question worth asking. As the GM he is responsible. That being said, he’s not getting canned anytime soon because of the teams accomplishments in 2004 & 2007, .. nor do I necessarily think he should. This year’s record like last year’s will be blamed on injuries which isn’t exactly the whole story. Although I think the RS will hold on to make the playoffs, barely but whether they do or not should not change the way Epstein is evaluated for this season. The team he constructed had serious holes to start with that were just exposed over the course of a 162 game season. And, the GM, Boy Wonder decided that doing nothing was the best course of action.

    Nevertheless, I’m sure that if the RS don’t make it to the playoffs Theo has in his office a gorilla suit encased in glass that reads “Break Glass in Case of Third Place”

    • bigleagues - Sep 24, 2011 at 8:28 AM

      So it would follow that the 2009 World Series is the only one that can be partially credited to Cashman, right? After all the “core four” was drafted, signed and developed by Sabean and/or Stick Michael.

      • bigharold - Sep 24, 2011 at 11:18 AM

        “So it would follow that the 2009 World Series …”

        Only if you’re following too closely. To be sure the team of the late 90s was shaped by Gene Michaels. But, Cashman not only has been with the Yankees full time since the early 90s he worked for Gene Michaels. In fact it was Michaels that talked him out of leaving the Yankees and going to law school.

        And, the topic here the Epstein and Francona, not Cashman. The entire universe can’t be referenced via the Yankee RS dynamic.

      • bigleagues - Sep 24, 2011 at 2:07 PM

        The entire universe can’t be referenced via the Yankee RS dynamic.

        Actually, I think it can be, but I’m just illustrating the double standard you employ when taking your shots at Epstein. In fact, some of what you are claiming is simply revisionist history to support your critique.

        Stick also snagged O’Neill. Stick stepped down as GM in ’95 and Watson was GM until ’97. Stick remained in charge of scouting until 2002. And if you think that Cashman had any real influence in his early years as the Yankees GM then you don’t know as much as you think. Steinbrenner had a cadre of ‘trusted’ advisors that would constantly circumvent the chain of command by going directly to him. Despite being GM and Senior VP Cashman was, in reality, a glorified executive secretary well into the 90′s as Steinbrenner would consult with Michaels, Connors and Stump before making any major decision. And if you weren’t aware of that fact, you’ll just have to take my word for it because I heard it directly from more than one person who was involved.

        You’ll remember that Cashman was ready to walk in 2005 before the Yankees hierarchy finally stopped the meddling. From 2002-2005 – even Theo had more autonomy over Red Sox player personnel moves than Cashman did with the Yanks. While Epstein had his own internal battle with Lucchino, driving him to actually walk (also in ’95) – it was more about Lucchino making public statements about roster moves before they happened and what Theo viewed as a lack of respect and recognition from Lucchino during contract negotiations than having his ability to make roster moves as he saw fit.

        So following the logic your applying to Theo’s performance which has resulted in 2 World Series, play-off appearances in 6 of his 8 years and an average of 90+ wins per season – the most successful run of any GM in franchise history . . . Cashman really is only fully accountable for the 2008 World Series championship.

        That having been said – Duquette’s contributions to the roster aside – do the 2004 Red Sox win the World Series:

        - If Theo doesn’t pull the trigger on moving Nomar out of town (and thus ridding the clubhouse of his constant begativity)?

        - Without Curt Schilling (who Schilling and the Trio all credit with being 100% Theo’s work in convincing and acquiring)?

        - Without David Ortiz – who Epstein identified and acquired the year before (saying that he viewed Ortiz as someone who is potentially a special player that really hadn’t been given a fair shot to succeed – even when everyone else was scratching the heads and criticizing the Sox for bringing on another glorified softball player)?

        - Without Kevin Millar who was practically on a plane to Japan (and already had signed a contract) when Epstein talked him into staying and signing with the Red Sox (and had to negotiate with the Japanese team over the settling the contract)?

        - Without acquiring Orlando Cabrera and Dave “Friggin” Roberts?

        - Without signing Bronson Arroyo after having been waived?

        - Without building a bullpen that included his signings of Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Curtis Leskanic, Scott Williamson, and Ramiro Mendoza?

        - Without hiring the right Manager (Francona) to work within the system that Theo envisioned and put into place?

        In fact, while Duquette made a couple of easy calls in acquiring Manny, and Pedro, developed Nomar under his watch and made a truly great (but no-brainer even in hindsight) trade for Lowe and Varitek – it was, in fact, Theo who made all of the tough calls that equipped the 2004 team with the right personnel to win a World Series. In fact, while there were “Duquette” players on that team – there can be no doubt that it was Theo Epstein who was responsible for making the decisions needed to assemble the World Series Champion.

      • bigleagues - Sep 24, 2011 at 2:09 PM

        EDIT:

        Cashman was, in reality, a glorified executive secretary well into the 2000′s as Steinbrenner would consult with Michaels, Connors and Stump

      • bigharold - Sep 24, 2011 at 4:56 PM

        “And if you weren’t aware of that fact, you’ll just have to take my word for it because I heard it directly from more than one person who was involved.”

        Oh, .. so you know a guy that knew a guy that was personally involved? Well that clears up everything.

        Try to stay on topic. This post was about Francona and Epstein the alleged disconnect between the two in 2011. It has NOTHING to do with the Yankees.

        If you want to believe that Epstein is some baseball intellectual giant be my guess. But look at his 5 biggest FA signings; Drew, Rentaria, Lugo, Lacky and Crawford. Explain that! And, again that isn’t the point. He’s a good GM but he’s not a great one. His past accomplishments in 2004 &07 will give him more slack than he deserves otherwise. And, as the GM he is the responsible party. He deserves the lion’s share of the team performance as he went and got the players.

        I personally hope the RS give Gorilla Boy a life time contract. If nothing else it’ll be one less thing to worry about knowing that the RS will never have decent SS while he’s at the helm.

      • bigleagues - Sep 24, 2011 at 10:01 PM

        Oh, .. so you know a guy that knew a guy that was personally involved? Well that clears up everything.

        No, I know people who were directly involved, but that’s a tale for another time.

        And I did stay on topic. You made the claim that Theo’s career has been a myth, particularly because of the credit he gets for 2004. I countered that with specifics that more that more than adequately dismisses your myth claim and now instead of admitting you were flat wrong about your myth comment, instead you now claim he “isn’t great”.

        And yes I brought the Yankees into this because I wanted to see if you apply the same scrutiny to your own team. You didn’t and can’t and now you’ve been exposed as a Yankees fanboy.

        How you and others place the blame on Theo with the endless stream of injuries that have beset the team in the second half is beyond me. It’s no secret in Boston that John Lackey has allowed trouble in his personal life carry through to his performance on the field . . . which is unacceptable to me. The fact is you are focusing on the FA signings and ignoring all of the other accomplishments which far outweigh the FA issues.

        And btw, placing Crawford with barely his first season under his belt is absurd. JD Drew was a solid signing and the numbers prove that. No one was complaining when they signed Renteria (and if I told what was rumored – and no I didn’t have a firsthand account on this one – to have been behind his awful play that year you’d first be shocked, then laugh your ass off.) The two that I’d agree were bad signings are Lackey and Lugo. And even then Lackey was the best available pitcher on the market.

      • bigharold - Sep 25, 2011 at 12:45 AM

        “No, I know people who were directly involved, but that’s a tale for another time.”

        As in fairy?

        The issue here is Francona and Epstein. Not the Yankees, .. not Cashman.

        You want t defend Epstein explain

        1. Drew, Complete under performer. Averaged about 120 games a season, was never the hitter they thought he’d be.
        2.Rentiria, lasted one season. The RS about 20 Mil so he could go to the Giants and play SS for them while winning a WS
        3.Lugo, Worked out so well that the RS spent about 12 mil so he could play SS for the Cards
        4. Lacky, Complete bust two years running.
        5. Crawford. Bust. The only thing at issue is he going to to blow past Chone Figgins with regard to incredibly bad FA signings.

        Focus, the post is about the RS, Epstein and Francona.

      • bigleagues - Sep 25, 2011 at 10:58 AM

        Harold,

        I’ve already addressed those guys with you and I’d rather not engage in a circular discussion. You’re a Yankees Fanboy (whom ironically knows very little about Yankees history).

        The days between Friday and Monday must be especially difficult for you. Ya know, when you don’t have Fatcessa to feed you with fresh fodder.

      • bigharold - Sep 25, 2011 at 5:58 PM

        bigleagues,

        By your non-responsive response it’s clear that you a) know nothing about the Yankees, b) know little about the RS, c) know absolutely about me.

        But, on the other hand you do know a guy that knew a guy … or some other such fair tale. So, congratulations you got that going for you!

  5. cackalackyank - Sep 24, 2011 at 12:51 AM

    On the same page…or is the handwriting on the wall?

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