Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox manager does not know if the team will exercise a contract option and bring him back in 2012.
The day after Boston completed an epic fail in the month of September, blowing a nine-game wild card lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, he met with media along with his GM Theo Epstein.
As fingers are ready to point at either him, Epstein or both, he’s got to wonder if the talk today about the “clubhouse culture” changes aren’t put squarely in his lap.
The Providence Journal reported that Epstein told Boston media:
“We want to be in better shape and better condition than our opponents. If that’s not happening consistently, 1 through 25 on the roster, then that’s a problem, and we need to get it addressed. If we’re not better prepared than the other team 1 through 25 when it’s game time, then that’s a problem and it has to be addressed. If we’re not doing the little things on the field, playing fundamentally better than the other team, 1 through 25, then that’s a problem.”
That sounds like media-speak for “I got him the players, but if he’s not getting them ready to play — that’s his fault.”
The two men shared The Curse-ending season of 2004 with a stunning and historic three-game come back over the Yankees in the ALCS and a sweep of the St. Louis Cards in the World Series.
The men demonstrated that their success wasn’t a fluke when they took Boston to its second world title in 2007.
But after failing to reach the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011 and having no answer for questions about how a store-bought roster couldn’t find the talent or guts to close out the Rays, Francona is left hanging, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Joe Torre can empathize with Francona today, about the uncertainty of the love his team owner has for him and whether his GM will fight for him.
Torre’s Yankees made the playoffs in 2007, the year he was told he could come back with a steep pay cut and incentive bonuses only. Torre knew how that would look to his players, many of whom made double his salary already.
He and the Yankees hadn’t missed the playoffs during his 12 year tenure with the club, but they hadn’t been to the World Series since 2003, when they lost to the Florida Marlins.
Four years without a sniff of the championship and a payroll similar to this year’s Sox, got him no sympathy.
In his tell-all memoir, “The Yankee Years” Torre said that Yanks’ GM Brian Cashman wasn’t fighting for him in that meeting in Tampa with the Steinbrenner family.
He didn’t offer an alternative salary structure. He was watching out for his own behind when the fingers of blame were circling.
Torre chose to walk away when the silence became deafening in that Tampa room. it was a matter of days before he was announced as the manager of the L.A. Dodgers.
If Francona needs an ear, a shoulder or both, Joe Torre will know how he feels.