Well, the Red Sox are off to a horrific start. At 4-9, they sit 4th in the AL East and are tied for 12th in the American League. Is it time to panic? Trick question- it’s always time to panic in Boston. If we were 12-1, we’d be wondering how in the world we were going to fix that glaring problem that caused us to lose a game. That being said, the Sox clearly do have some problems that require attention. Today I want to look at what many teams do when they are faced with either innumerable or unidentifiable problems- fire the manager. To be clear, I’m not calling for Terry Francona’s head or even validating the level of panic that is running through Red Sox Nation right now, I just thought it would be interesting to see how much firing the manager actually effects a team’s performance in the short run.
Okay, now hear me out on this one. You’ve got Clay Buchholz on the mound. Through 7 innings he is throwing a one-hit shutout. The next logical step to an ten-year old would be to leave him in the game because he is pitching so well. I apologize for wanting to have a manager with just a little more insight than an ten-year old. Buchholz was over 90 pitches entering the 8th inning. He’s just a kid and at the end of last year the Sox even curbed his use in order to save his arm the wear and tear. But now, Francona ignores his bullpen and pushes his luck with Clay, in turn costing us the game. You can argue until you’re blue in the face that it was worth the risk considering the poor performance and lack of rest/health of the bullpen recently. That is still no excuse to stretch out the starting pitcher longer than is appropriate. It’s not fair to Buchholz, it’s not fair to Okajima (who should’ve got the ball), it’s not fair to the fans. We’ve won 2 World Championships under Francona. For that he deserves a medal. Maybe two. But I have hated him as a manager ever since his arrival in Boston and it is decisions like the one he made tonight that add fuel to that fire. Accuse me of Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but I thought it was quite obvious that Clay was done for the day. It sickens me that Francona just signed a four year contract extension. Stop chewing your damn tobacco for half a second and pay attention to the game.
On a happier note, Jacoby Ellsbury has been making a pretty strong case for himself being the centerfielder of the future. With two more hits tonight, he’s at .296. How long before Coco Crisp gets traded? His stock may be at a peak right now as he too is off to a hot start hitting .333. Then again, if we traded Crisp then Francona wouldn’t be able to anger all of Red Sox Nation by benching Ellsbury. And we all know how much he likes to do that.