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Who is better than Terry Francona?

Sep 30, 2011, 2:32 AM EDT

Terry Francona AP

Terry Francona leaves his starters in too long, he’s too prone to pinch-running for his best hitters and not aggressive enough in pinch-hitting for his worst.

But so what? He’s 744-552 with two World Series championships in eight years with the Red Sox. To believe he needs to go is to believe that pretty much all managers have a shelf life and that eight years is about as long as anyone can last in the same role.

I don’t buy that. And I’m not sure where there’s an upgrade on Francona to be found. None of the retreads are attractive at all. Bobby Valentine is interesting, but it’s doubtful he’d be as open to front-office input as Francona was and that fact alone would probably rule him out for the job.

The Red Sox have also lost their two internal candidates to step in.  Brad Mills left to take over as Houston’s manager two years ago, and John Farrell was hired by Toronto prior to the 2011 season. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale is likely too close to Francona to survive a regime change. Current third-base coach Tim Bogar may be a candidate to manage someday, but he’ll need some time as a bench coach first.

So, the Red Sox would almost certainly have to look outside the organization, possibly to the Triple-A ranks. Ryne Sandberg’s name could come up. His stock continued to climb after a fine year with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate, though I’m not sure his ideas would mesh with Boston’s. Rays bench coach Dave Martinez is a likely candidate; he’s likely to get an interview with the White Sox. The Twins’ Scott Ullger is another bench coach with managerial potential.

There just isn’t anyone out there screaming “I need to be a major league manager.” The Red Sox will really be rolling the dice when they make the move to replace their most successful manager in franchise history. Unless he’s truly lost the clubhouse, Francona should be welcomed back.

  1. baseballisboring - Sep 30, 2011 at 3:02 AM

    Looks like it was Tito’s decision. It’s hard to blame him, Boston is a tough market to manage in for eight years. But if he does indeed go I’m going to miss him. Even for his on-field shortcomings that every manager has, I’m not sure anyone in the game is better at managing personalities. I’ll always remember him leading us to the WS in his first year in ’04 and again in ’07. I’d also have to imagine there are managerial candidates out there that us layman don’t know about…I’m sure Theo will find a good candidate that gels with their philosophy.

  2. verytalldad - Sep 30, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    Who are the ad wizards who came up with that one?

  3. bigleagues - Sep 30, 2011 at 3:32 AM

    The speculation may be true, but I’ll wait until we hear something definitively. I agree with Matt – I just don’t see any obvious choices. Then again, when Francona was hired he wasn’t the obvious choice either.

    • stinkfist5 - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:50 AM

      It would be awesome if Buck decided to take over as GM and hired Francona to take the helm to get his revenge on the Saux.

  4. madisonave99 - Sep 30, 2011 at 3:40 AM

    The Boston market is proving its lunacy once again to get rid of a fine manager like Francona…he’s got 6 seasons of at least 90 wins, actually brought Boston its first World Series in 86 years (then added a second one 3 years later) and they show him the door…typical “prisoner of the moment”, “something has to be done” ESPN-esque society that permeates that.marketplace…Boston started out this year HORRIBLY and still were brilliant for 85% of the season…stop looking for a scapegoat and use this as fuel to win another title next year–not fire the manager because you feel the need to “make a move”

    • oilcanjim - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:50 AM

      Madison, the Boston market didn’t choose to get rid of Francona. Looks like he chose to leave. Alternatively, the front office decided to fire him. Either way, to state that the “market” got rid of him is incorrect and just an easy slam of Boston fans. As a Sox fan, I sure wish Tito was staying- we just lost our steadiest (and sanest) voice from the clubhouse.

    • sportsdrenched.com - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:37 AM

      I agree with most of what you said. But there are a lot of particulars to the situation we don’t know about. And I haven’t heard Red Sox fan per se calling for anyone’s head.

      And someone with the handle: madisonave99 making this statement “something has to be done” ESPN-esque society that permeates that.
      Is ironic to me.

  5. spizzjr - Sep 30, 2011 at 3:57 AM

    Let em have Jim leyritz…Lmfao he would certainly fit in the drunken city of Boston oh yeah and he is the manager of some slack minor league team somewhere

  6. hooks024 - Sep 30, 2011 at 4:47 AM

    As a yankees fan, I say good riddance to a pain in our @sses. As far as better at managing personalities, the name joe torre comes to mind. He managed the fragile ego known as alex rodriguez through some of his toughest off field problems. He managed manny through all of his bs. But i digress. There are really no better candidates right now to manage boston, so I’m all for the sox showing him the door, the stumbling that his replacement will experience, and the next 4 division titles we will easily win as a result.

    • adenzeno - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:45 AM

      Torre +Arod = Zero World Series

    • daisycutter1 - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:06 AM

      Torre threw A-Rod under the bus in a SI cover story. He publicly scapegoated him, batting him 8th in the last ALDS against Detroit when no one on the team was hitting.

      Torre also divided the clubhouse into his guys (Jeter, Posada, etc) and everyone else. Unless you were in his “circle of trust”, by many reports he was AWFUL at managing personalities.

      • southofheaven81 - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:34 AM

        And Torre was a major Buzz Killington that frowned on such extravagances as music in the clubhouse. When it’s considered a major revolution that Girardi took the club out to shoot pool during spring training, that’s a serious problem.

    • Jonny 5 - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:49 AM

      Torre walked out on his last team, he doesn’t deserve to manage anymore.

    • summerof67 - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:46 AM

      As a Red Sox fan, I will be pilloried for saying this, but I have to acknowledge that Joe Girardi has done a fantastic job at the Yankees. He would never leave, because he bleeds blue pinstripes, but seeing him on a Boston bench would not make me unhappy.

  7. drewmunny - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:51 AM

    As I have stated in another post, I am not a member of the fire Francona team. However, I also feel strongly that the responsibility, if not the blame (hate that word) has to rest on his shoulders. Funny thing is, with this, his apparent departure, I have gained more respect for the guy. He is clearly the captain of the ship, in a manner of speaking, who after what most teams would look at as a mostly successful season (from a wins standpoint), is willing to take the fall. And who knows what the guy is thinking or feeling anyway. Possibly the toughest market in all of MLB to coach in. From a die-hard Yankees fan, he gets a tip of my hat, not to mention my respect, no matter where he ends up.

  8. jeffstern54 - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:47 AM

    Letting Francona go is the wrong move.. Theo is the architect that built this team and pitching staff.. wait a sec, wasn’t it the pitching that failed? hmm looks like the genius burned down the house and will get away with it. As a Yankee fan I tip my hat to Mr. Francona and wish him well wherever he ends up as long as he does leave the sox.

  9. 1historian - Sep 30, 2011 at 6:51 AM

    baseballisboring & oilcanjim – his first name is Terry, his father’s first name was Tito.

    • Ari Collins - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      He’s called Tito too.

      • bozosforall - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:48 PM

        1hysterectomy is as ignorant about baseball as he is about football on PFT.

  10. phillyphever - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    I’m thinking this season might have had an effect on Terry’s health. He wasn’t exactly the picture of health during his time in Boston (mostly stress related). Don’t blame him for leaving if that’s the case.

  11. shaggylocks - Sep 30, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    Is the world ready for the Varitek player-manager? Only time will tell…

  12. 8man - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    I don’t blame Tito for this. Injuries took there toll and the remaining players just didn’t execute. If he leaves I hope he ends up in Baltimore.

    Boston Bruins, 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Champions.

  13. Jason @ IIATMS - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    Anytime a talented Sox teams loses a key part, no matter by whose hand, I’m thrilled.

    As a Yanks fan, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Francona. The Sox organization is worse off today (if today is the day he leaves) than it was the day before.

    I hope he lands in the NL!

  14. mojosmagic - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Bozo the Clown for starters. Why you readers harken to ask? At least a Clown could lighten up the tension filled club house.

  15. drmonkeyarmy - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Again, Francona is an excellent manager, but the Red Sox won because of the talent on the field. I wonder how Francona would do on a team devoid of incredible talent? The answer is he would average 71 wins a season as he did over his 4 year span as Phillies manager.

  16. Jonny 5 - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Now Boston will likely save millions in double bubble….

  17. havlicekstoletheball - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    There is no better manager than Francona for the Red Sox. He is the best manager in club history.

    The team needs a major facelift.

    Obviously gone:

    Lackey
    Matsuzaka
    Drew
    Varitek (unless he wants to be a coach)
    Papelbon
    Bedard
    Jenks
    Albers

    Maybe gone:

    Ortiz
    Wakefield
    Lowrie
    Wheeler
    A. Miller

    Definite keepers:

    Pedroia
    Crawford
    Ellsbury
    Lester
    Youkilis
    Beckett
    Gonzalez
    Kalish
    Scutaro
    Saltalamacchia
    Buchholz
    Reddick

    But I don’t think Francona is staying. Damned shame. He was such a breath of fresh air from a moron (Little), a grump (JiMy), a blowhard (Kennedy), and a drunk (Morgan).

    • Pat Gray - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:47 AM

      Crawford is no “keeper!” Heck, I would rather they sent Kevin McHale to the outfield.

  18. kevbarnett - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Ryne Sandberg seems like a logical fit. I know his dream job is to coach the Cubs but I think Boston needs a guy with name recognition. Sandberg has done a terrific job managing in the minors, he led the Phillies AAA affiliate Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs to the post season this year. The guy will be a good manager, as a Phillies fan I’m hoping he can stick around long enough to replace Charlie Manuel after his contract is up.

  19. delegator - Sep 30, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    The job of managing a team like the Red Sox or the Yankees is all about dealing with the egos and talent brought in with the high payrolls. I think Francona has been great at that over the years, but I also think there was a complacency in this year’s team because of the offseason acquisitions and preseason hype.

    I don’t see anybody better to right the ship than Francona. He has history, he has credibility, and he has a genuinely strong relationship with the key players like Dustin Pedroia. He’s also a very smart man, who would be able to look back and see what needs to be done differently this year.

    Personally, I would look at third base coaching (too many runners thrown out at home…we were third worst in the majors at one point this year). I would look at the new pitching coach to determine why our starters can’t consistently last 6 innings (often not because they’ve given up too many runs, but because they’ve thrown too many pitches) and why our starters have suffered so many injuries. I’d try to get Jason Varitek to be the new bullpen coach (you have to think that it’ll be Salty & Lavarnway behind the plate next year) and decide whether a Reddick/MacDonald platoon is the answer in right field, or whether we need to bring in a free agent now that Drew’s contract is thankfully over.

    The pieces are still there. If the batters play to their career norms and the starting pitchers can give quality starts then we will win the division next year. And I don’t see anybody better than Francona to guide that process.

    • bozosforall - Sep 30, 2011 at 5:52 PM

      “If the batters play to their career norms and the starting pitchers can give quality starts then we will win the division next year.”

      Don’t count on it, Paper Tiger Boy. The Yankees youngsters will make the Yankees even more formidable while the Red Sox’s only chance to keep up will be to try once again to BUY a title via free agency.

  20. yankeesgameday - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    When is Joe Maddon’s contract up in Tampa? Hate today it but he’d be the perfect blend of personality for Boston and a player’s manager

  21. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    I understand that Wally Backman is available for the right price.

  22. missthedayswhenwedidnthavetologin - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRQxRnUes94 This man is better than Tito.

  23. thefrenchyconnection - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    Isn’t it painfully obvious? Bobby Cox duh!

  24. Pat Gray - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:45 AM

    They gotta bring in K.C. Jones or Butch Hobson.

  25. sparkycon - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Two words: Grady Little

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