Red Sox manager Terry Francona recently signed a contract extension with the club, guaranteeing fans his services for the next two seasons through 2008.
With this extension, a question is considered: how good has Francona been as the Red Sox manager?
A lot of people ride the Francona band-wagon because he was the manager when the Red Sox won thier first World Series in 86 years. It's a good reason, but with that offense, the pitching-power, and the ability to know when and when not to take Pedro Martinez off the mound, more than just Francona could do that. Is Francona the right man for the job, or is he just in the right place at the right time?
Francona has a .596 winning percentage at the helm of the Red Sox, which translates to about 97 wins a season. There really is no way to prove if Francona is a good manager or if the talent of the roster is the reason for the 95+ wins. But does anyone think a manager like Lou Pinella would do any worse with the same squad?
Francona is a players' manager. That's been extremely evident over the past two seasons. Just look at the way he handled struggling players like Alan Embree and Kevin Millar. Look at last season: Embree was struggling with an ERA over seven, sometimes eight, and he continued to eat innings and give up leads. Same goes for Millar who had a career-low .754 OPS last season. Even with a hot-hitting John Olerud behind him, Francona continued with his buddy Millar who never regained his form.
How does the rest of Red Sox Nation feel about Francona? Does he deserve the extension, or do you feel there are, or will be, better managers out there to manage this team?
Personally, I feel Francona is a nice guy. He's good to the media, he's good to the players, and he's good to the fans. But I feel his friendliness is a downfall when it comes to the playing on the diamond.
Maybe it will be different this year. Maybe with the new squad and a lot of players gone he won't be so buddy-buddy. We just may need that if we want to get back to the World Series.