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Terry Francona: Manager of the Year

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Annoyance #3 lately after Manny Ramirez and the bridge jumpers...those who are trying to blame every loss on Terry Francona.

  1. Managers aren't as important as you think they are. They have no say in what players they have. Many times they have little say in what players they use. If a team goes out and gets a $40 million shortstop to bat second, then that $40 million shortstop is going to play every day and he's going to bat second. A manager is given the pieces and he is told how they fit.
  2. Baseball isn't a game of strategy. I never understood why people would say that. Football, with all the formations, styles of play, types of players, and ways to build a team...now that's a game of strategy. In baseball you get the 9 best hitters you can, send them up to the plate, and cross your fingers hoping that they smack the ball around. Sure, there's the occasional hit and run or stolen base, but even those don't come into play all that much and have small effects on a team over the course of a season. Besides, a lot of the time, whatever little strategy is used in baseball isn't controlled by the manager. The front office brings in someone to put at the helm of their ship, but they tell them where to stear it. Is Francona a bad manager because he doesn't let the baserunners go often enough? No. He has no say in that.
  3. Playing percentages is all well and good, but those percentages are pretty small. Scream all you want about how if Nixon had been up instead of Kapler, the Sox would've won the game. It's not true. The difference between a good hitter and a bad hitter is about .050 points of OBP. That means a good player will suceed one more time in 20 than a bad player. So once every 20 times, when a bad hitter fails, a good hitter will suceed.
  4. The manager knows more than you. Why didn't he put in Chad Bradford to get out that final out? Well, maybe Bradford is tired. Maybe the pitcher on the mound has success against the player at the plate. Maybe Bradford is having trouble getting warm. Whatever. There are 1000 situations in every baseball game that you know nothing about, but the manager does.
  5. Of course you know that he should've pulled Timlin before he let up that home run because he just let up that home run. No one likes a Monday morning quarterback, but everyone takes their turn at being one.
So what does a manager do? Well, he unfairly takes the fall when a team is doing bad, he walks the line up card out to the umpire, he gets the best seat in the house to every baseball game, and he baby sits a bunch of millionaires with attitudes. Terry Francona does a damn good job at all four of those tasks. He takes plenty of heat that he doesn't deserve, that much is for sure. Eric Wedge is probably the manager of the year in the AL. Ozzie Guillen is a close second. No one really expected much out of Cleveland and Chicago, but they've surprised everyone. Terry Francona is right behind those guys as this year's manager of the year. You can bitch and moan about him not using the bullpen right all you want, but the fact remains is that he doesn't have a bullpen to misuse. Besides Timlin there hasn't been a real option in that pen all year. The Sox have played without a closer and without an ace. Their clean up hitter is trying his best to not try. Their center fielder is a walking injury. There are so many holes in this team and yet they still have a share of first place. Francona has handled every situation that has come the team's way and he's done a good job of it. Some of his bullpen moves have been questionable, but that's a minor issue over the course of a season. The only real problem with the guy has been Kevin Millar's name in the line up every day. He's handled Manny, the media, the lack of pitching, and everything else and the team is still in first place.