Tagged: FenwayNation

Is Francona Manager Of The Year?

Red Sox manager Terry Francona
Red Sox manager Terry Francona
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I’ll be the first to admit that when the Red Sox named Terry Francona as their new manager, I cringed. He seemed way too giddy for Boston at his introductory news conference. My first thought was,’This guy will be eaten alive within a year”. I could not have been any more off-base.

And despite nabbing two World Series rings already, this year–2010–could be Francona’s most impressive yet. From the outset, the spectre of the dreaded “Bridge Year” hung over this team and colored fan expectations. A slow start, fueled by poor starting pitching, pumped up the angst level even further. On top of all this, Tito had to manage the bruised egos of Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell, two veterans who were being handed diminished roles.

After a bit of a surge in the standings, the injuries struck. A total of 11 bodies hit the DL–several of them of the indispensable variety. Would the Rays and Yankees be as swaggering with that many key players sidelined? On came the Navas and the McDonalds and the Pattersons. Somehow, this team has managed to stay on the periphery of contention.

No matter how the Olde Towne Team finishes up this year, I say Terry Francona deserves serious consideration as Manager of the Year.

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It’s Caballito’s Team Now

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia
AP Photo

In the early hours of Friday morning, Dustin Pedroia took ownership of the 2010 Boston Red Sox. It was then that the feisty second baseman launched a Houston Street pitch into the Denver night for his third home run of the game. It gave the Red Sox an improbable 13-11 win–improbable because minutes before Jonathan Papelbon had blown his second save in 24 hours. Papelbon then pitched the 10th for the win.

‘Pedey’, as he is called by his teammates, has become the de facto captain of this squad–the leader that characterizes all that is good about them. If ever there was a “jump on my back, boys” moment in 2010 it was last night. In addition to the game-winning home run, all Pedroia did was clout two other round-trippers–going 5 for 5 with a walk, five RBI and four runs scored. Since June 10th, he is hitting a filthy .500. 

As the Red Sox struggle to deal with crushing injuries (Nava, Hall & McDonald sounds more like a crooked law firm than a starting Red Sox outfield), it is Pedroia who has been the glue that has kept things together. Beltre and Youkilis have also been steady, but it’s the little ‘Caballito’ that has taken on the role of a true leader.

Ellsbury Still Hurt; Franco Still Dead

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After visiting with Dr. Lewis Yocum in California, it was revealed that Jacoby Ellsbury’s ribs still hurt and that he needs more rest. So, this is our second opinion? I have no medical training, and I think I could have arrived at the same conclusion.

This whole RibGate thing is getting as vexing as the Mike Lowell Death Watch. Can someone please clear the air? Does Jacoby think the Red Sox doctors screwed up in their initial diagnosis, or not? Is Scott Boars horning in on the process to punish the Sox yet again? Were his ribs ever actually fractured, or not? Where the heck are the reporters who supposedly cover this team on a daily basis to give us some answers?

The bottom line in all this, of course, is that the Red Sox suffer mightily with Ellsbury out of the lineup–both offensively and defensively. If he had been healthy all year, chances are our current position in the standings would be greatly enhanced.

Just get back, Jacoby, will ‘ya? Spare us the Soap Opera!

Was Theo Right About Bay?

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Much has been said about the merry-go-round that is the 2010 Red Sox outfield. Due to injuries to starting LF Jacoby Ellsbury and starting CF Mike Cameron, the team has thrown out a collection of bench jockeys and Triple-A players to fill the void (Bill Hall, Darnell McDonald, Jonathan Van Every, Jeremy Hermida). Some–notably Hermida–have been clutch (if not average) hitters, but it’s been a serious weakness for the team over the first 41 games.

However, the guy who would have avoided most of this, Jason Bay, is wallowing in Flushing. While he’s hitting OK for average (.270), he’s gone deep just once. That’s right, Red Sox fans, the guy who went “yard” 36 times for us last year is on pace for  4 whole round-trippers in 2010! For those of you into schadenfreude, check this out from the acerbic pen of Brian Costa of the Newark Star-Ledger:

“Jason Bay, has been bumped out of that spot (clean-up) by two players who began the season in Triple-A: Chris Carter and Ike Davis…Yes, 41 games into the season, after throwing $66 million at Bay over the winter, the Mets are counting on a 23-year-old rookie to produce in the cleanup spot.”

Part of the surprise of Bay landing in cavernous Citi Field was that his home run production would likely drop–but no one expected Alex Cora power numbers.

All of this begs the question: “Was Theo Epstein right to let Bay walk?” So far, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Of course, most of Theo’s reasoning was based on phantom “injuries” detected by Red Sox doctors, but by no other medical professionals. Nevertheless, Bay’s lack of power production is probably due to more than just hitting in a spacious ballpark. It could be that his most productive years are behind him.

Marco “Lugaro” Hands Game To Empire

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How ironic. One of the guys brought here to screw down the left side of the infield screwed up. After Marco Scutaro botched a routine inning-ending ground ball, Hideki Okajima walked in the eventual winning run in amaddening 6-4 loss to the Empire.

Not only did the “ironclad” defense break down, but the other leg on the Colossus of Run Prevention–that would be pitching–also left a lot to be desired. So, this is what 2010 could look like, Nation. Lots of one and two-run losses (not that four runs ahouldn’t win a game) and way too much pressure on Victor Martinez to be “The Guy” in the offense. 

In the meantime, the Rays (who are again poised to outlast both giants of the AL East) went home with a walk-off 9th inning win. Don’t forget to stop by “Twins” on your way out!