There is a report now making the rounds that Red Sox Manager Terry Francona has just been fired. Both the decision and the actual firing came directly from BoSox Owner John Henry.
Technically speaking, the Sox have decided not to pick up the option on his contract.
I understand how bad the Red Sox collapse was, but isn't this premature? Francona won two World Series in eight years. He's actually undefeated in eight World Series games. In case anyone forgot, no manager was able to win a championship in Boston since 1918. His record with the Red Sox is 744-552, good for a .574 winning percentage. Only twice did his team fail to win 90 games.
The shelf life of managers is short these days, but that doesn't mean it's right. Baseball managers have less impact on the success of their team than in any other sport; it's a series of individual battles that rests on the players. Mike Bauman of MLB.com once explained why managers are fired so often:
The most comforting thing to believe about a losing baseball team is that the reason the team is losing is the manager.
This belief exonerates a whole host of other candidates for blame. It allows everybody involved to cling to the notion that the 25-man roster is much, much better than the record the roster has compiled.
Other candidates to blame for the Red Sox collapse in 2011:
How about John Lackey's 6.41 ERA over 28 starts?
How about Tim Wakefield's 5.12 ERA over 23 starts?
How about Carl Crawford's .694 OPS over 130 games?
Terry Francona has proven that you can win a championship with him as your leader-twice. Of active managers, only Tony LaRussa can say that, and one of his titles was back in 1989. That's really all you can ask for.