The Red Sox are a Machiavellian bunch. But I actually believe that John Henry fell on his yacht, got hurt and couldn’t make the press conference yesterday. Look, if you were going to make up a story, nobody would make up a story about falling on a yacht.
Henry left Fenway around noon then he was injured around 5:30 p.m. My question is this: Who goes to hang out on their yacht in the middle of letting the best manager in franchise history go? Was Thurston Howell III in town for a visit?
Do wealthy people really go just sit on their yacht as opposed to their giant house? I guess so. I’m sure Extra Bases readership is loaded with yacht owners. Let me know.
• Now that Terry Francona is out, the heat will be on Theo Epstein if the 2012 Red Sox stink it up. These are his players who quit on their manager.
• At last count, four scouts, two assistant general managers, one manager and one general manager have asked me roughly the same question: How did the Red Sox get to a point where Francona had to start Tim Wakefeld four times and Kyle Weiland three times in September?
Every June we hear about what a wonderful draft the Red Sox had and just a few weeks ago Sports Illustrated (in the worst-timed story ever) told us how smart Theo and his guys are.
Fantastic. But somehow Weiland — who was 0-4, 5.09 in seven starts after the All-Star break for Pawtucket — was the best they could do? That or a 45-year-old guy throwing a knuckleball?
And the Yankees had Ivan Nova. And the Rays had Matt Moore. And Texas had Derek Holland. Who’s the young stud starter for the Red Sox? Who’s the guy in spring training next season everybody will gather around to watch and marvel at his stuff?
There isn’t one on the horizon. Clay Buchholz is 27, people.
• Wakefield told Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports that he wants to come back in 2012. “I have another goal in front of me that I’d like to accomplish, and that’s the all-time record for the Red Sox in wins,” he said. “I’m only seven away. I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record. We’ll see what happens.”
Wake should probably check the comments section and message boards. There do not seem to be many fans who feel like they “deserve” that.
• The first rule the new manager of the Red Sox should have is run to first base no matter what. Don’t sort of move forward glacially like David Ortiz. Don’t half jog like Adrian Gonzalez. Don’t go half speed because you know you’re out anyway like Carl Crawford. Run. If Dustin Pedroia can run to first like what’s left of his hair is on fire, so can everybody else.
• Now that we know Francona wanted to leave anyway, that explains some of the lineups over the last 10 days if the season. Or pinch running Lars Anderson. Or pitching Alfredo Aceves so often it’s a wonder that his arm didn’t fly off.
• Francona is a lot smarter than he lets on. He didn’t walk away without knowing something better for him was on the horizon. Whether it’s the White Sox or Cubs, here’s betting he manages next season.
• The second rule for the new manager of the Red Sox should be no beer in the clubhouse. Period. Plenty of teams do it now and the Red Sox should join the list. I don’t know about you, but my employer doesn’t have a bunch of frosty brews waiting when we’re done work.
• It’s mystifying, it truly is, how vociferously Francona and Epstein defend John Lackey. But they always do and I never got the remote impression that the players were tired of his act, either. He must do magic tricks and hand out gold bars the second reporters leave the clubhouse.
• What made Francona a good manager was that he trusted his players and treated them like men. That worked for a long time, too. But the 2011 Red Sox were a country club. Or as Jim Rice said on NESN, “a spa.”
• Don’t know how this can be addressed, but Fenway Park has to change. It’s obscene that people were dancing and singing to “Sweet Caroline” when the season was going down the toilet. Fenway Park used to be a place where fans applauded when a batter hit a ground ball to the right side to move a runner to third. Now 75 percent of the people in the joint on a given night have no idea why that’s important.
Don’t play “Sweet Caroline” when the team is losing. Just don’t. People need to care more about the game than a song.
• Speaking of Aceves, there’s a dilemma. If Jonathan Papelbon skates, do you make Daniel Bard the closer and Ace the set-up man? Or should Aceves get to start, which is what he badly wants? Signing Lackey was a bad move. Getting Aceves on the cheap was an amazingly good one. The guy was nails almost every time he pitched.
• Epstein said yesterday that basically the coaching staff if up in the air at this point. Have to think Curt Young is a goner. DeMarlo Hale (assuming he’s too close to Francona to be a candidate to replace him) is out, too. The only good bet to stay might be Gary Tuck, the catching instructor/bullpen coach who Epstein has great regard for.
Tuck is a one-man operation, seemingly immune to anything going on around him. He’ll survive.
• Two more good candidates to become manager: Former Pawtucket skipper Torey Lovullo, now a coach in Toronto, and Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey.
• My brother in law Brian made a great point today, when is the last time so many fans were actually upset to see a Red Sox manager leave?
Grady Little? Nope. Jimy Williams? Nope? Kevin Kennedy? Butch Hobson? It has been a long, long time. Maybe back to Joe Morgan in 1991.
Francona made a lot of friends in this town. My lasting impression of him was that he always got in the dugout early for the game, just to sit there and soak it all in a little before first pitch. He would invariably sign autographs for a while, chat up a security guard or just crack jokes with Pam Ganley, the team’s media relations director.
The guy truly loves what he does and not many people can say that. Francona led the team that broke the Curse and under his guidance, the Red Sox were a team you could be proud of. It fell apart at the end, as it inevitably had to. But Francona is owed a huge debt of gratitude by the people of New England.