Monday, October 3, 2011

Tito out, Theo Next?


On Friday, the Red Sox officially announced that the most successful manager in the history of the franchise, Terry Francona, was on his way out after the Red Sox suffered the worst month-long collapse in the history of the sport. On both accounts, this split was mutual. When I first heard the rumors that Francona would be out after the season, I thought they were ludicrous. However, I've since changed my mind. 

We can no longer look at team-manager relationships like they used to. Having managers in place for a long period of time used to be somewhat commonplace, but those days are gone. Francona has been here since 2004, a long time for present-day managers, as the only teams with managers that have tenures greater than or equal to Francona's are the Cardinals, Twins, Angels and White Sox (who also just parted ways with their skipper, Ozzie Guillen). Francona was the perfect manager for this place, as he had to deal with tremendous egos and cater to each and every one of them. He had to appease to the interests of everybody from Manny Ramirez, to Pedro Martinez, to Curt Schilling and David Ortiz. That would be stressful job for anyone, and I can see how he would want to walk away.

It seemed abundantly clear at the end of his run that he had lost his grip on this locker room. Aside from Dustin Pedroia, it seemed that everyone was done playing for him. While that sounds unforgivable and something that shouldn't be taken lightly, it happens in today's game. I loved Francona as a manager here and wish him nothing but the best in the future. It was nowhere near his fault that the team collapsed, but the relationship had to end at some point. I just hope this season doesn't do anything to tarnish the reputation for the best manager this team has ever seen.


There may be more changes at the top of the organization that could come anytime in the coming weeks. I refer to the team's general manager Theo Epstein. The team made a splash back in 2002 bringing on Epstein, who was a local boy and also the youngest GM in the history of the sport, just 28 years old. In the years since, the team has seen a transformation in philosophy. Theo has always been big on developing guys in the farm system. Whereas the previous regime focused mainly on free agents, Theo recognized it was easier to compete if you could develop your core guys and fill the rest in with free agents.

Theo is responsible for drafting the majority of this team's homegrown core. He was the man who drafted Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, among others. His drafting resume has been his brightest spot. However, if you look at his history of free agency, it is not as bright. He is the man who is responsible for bringing Boston Dice-K, Matt Clement, John Lackey and, just last year, Carl Crawford. (For what it's worth, I still think Crawford's contract can be salvaged).

When the Cubs were bought by new owners, they fired then-GM Jim Hendry. Afterwards, Epstein was immediately linked to the job. Sources close to him say that there is a "50-50" chance Theo would leave if given the opportunity. It is the Red Sox's responsibility to decide if another team can talk to him or not. After everything this ownership group has gone through with Epstein, I'd imagine they'd let him. The Cubs could possibly be an opportunity you don't pass up. If he can rebuild both the Red Sox and the Cubs into World Series winners, he will be seeing a Hall Of Fame plaque in the future. In the end, and this is purely speculation, I think the Red Sox will be looking at a new manager as well as a new GM.

No comments:

Post a Comment