Terry Francona is the True Idiot

Have you seen this idiot?

I haven't delved into sports for a while on the old blogger, but my last two days in Red Sox nation have warranted some very angry writing: just how stupid can Terry Francona be?

Two nights ago, he opts to leave second baseman Alex Cora (hitting .199 for the season at the time) in the lineup against Mariano Rivera, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning, as the Red Sox trailed the Yankees 5-3. His reasoning? If he replaced Cora in the lineup, with first baseman John Olerud (hitting .315), whose swing has been described as so sweet -- it would give you a cavity, he'd have no one to play second base in the 10th inning, if they tied up the game. What about leaving Olerud at first, moving first baseman Kevin Millar to third and moving third baseman and previously-sometime-second-baseman Bill Mueller, you ask? Francona apparently made a promise to Mueller that he would not put him at second base because ol' Bill is a little uncomfortable in the spot. Well that makes perfect sense. Too bad sarcasm doesn't translate well over the computer screen. So Terry made a *promise*. By the way, Cora hit into a double play that resulted in zero runs being scored.

Let's break down some elements of today's Dan Shaughnessy Globe article as he explores further into the manager's thinking:
Minutes before Francona opened his office to print reporters, he called Mueller into his office. After a brief meeting, Mueller departed and Francona met the press, while general manager Theo Epstein stood beside him.
OK, manager and Mr. Uncomfortable are getting on the same page in preparation for the media onslaught.
''I talked to Bill Mueller a little bit about going over there [second base] and giving us a little flexibility and he's willing to do that," said the manager. ''He's got some issues about going over there that he's worried about. That's not his position."

Why not put him there Sunday if the game went to extra innings?

''I had told him we would not do that," said the manager. ''And I don't think you can tell someone something like that and then change it. You can't all of a sudden say, 'This inning is more important.' You can't do that."
So it seems the bottom of the ninth against the Yankees (who were on the verge of being 1/2 game out of first place) with the bases loaded and with no outs is not an important inning.
Muller, upon being asked about playing second base:
''Oh yeah," he said. ''I'm not totally comfortable, especially turning the double plays. But I'm willing to help us in any situation. By all means."
Oh, so it might have been an important inning... I guess they aren't entirely on the same page.
While this was going on, Francona finished speaking with the print media. Traditionally, the electronic media pours into his office immediately after the ink-stained folks leave, but Epstein asked for a moment with his manager and the two had a brief closed-door meeting before the cameras entered.
Here's that same page thing again...

''I wanted to clarify what I said earlier," he started. ''I misspoke when I answered your questions earlier and that's never a good thing to do in my position.

''I didn't ever go to Bill to talk to him about this, but I'm confident I could have. I really wanted to see Alex [who was batting .199] hit. Did I think about using Olerud? Yes, but I really wanted to see Cora. If I thought that one move [Olerud] would have won the game for us, I would have gone to Billy, but I really wanted to see Cora hit. Sometimes there's more to gain than there is to lose and it's not about just one situation. You pull a guy [Cora] there, what kind of a message is that sending?"

You know, what? I wanted to see a lifetime .243 hitter face a future hall-of-famer closer too, Terry. Thank goodness at least we're on the same page. That Olerud is a hack, anyway. He's only a lifetime .295 hitter and only .315 this season as a backup. The chances of him making a difference -- possibly tying the game -- are almost nil. What's that? Cora is a backup also? Damn... there goes my logic.

And bravo to Terry Francona for keeping it up two nights in a row. Last night he had the opportunity to prevent the mighty Tampa Bay Devil Rays from breaking open a 1-1 tie in the 6th inning. As the beleaugered Wade Miller was reaching his pitch-count limit, he found himself in a bind with the bases loaded and the left-handed Joey Gathright at bat (Miller is a righty, and for those of you uninterested in baseball strategy, a situation with pitcher and batter of opposite -handedness usually favors the batter). Terry the genius sauntered over to the mound and did nothing more than give a little pep-talk to his pitcher and buy time for his bullpen pitchers to warm up! And what results did his pep-talk bring? A two run single by Gathright and a return trip to the mound for Francona to bring in Alan Embree -- the lefty who should have come in about two minute before.

Your defending World Champions, ladies and gentlemen.


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