Why is blaming Francona for this team's weaknesses so fashionable these days?
Today there seem to be two consensus reasons we lost last night:
- Francona should've sent Schilling back out for the ninth inning, which would have set up Papelbon and Timlin for extras and meant we didn't get to Tavarez
- Francona should've pitched Mike Timlin for two innings.
First of all, Schilling said himself he was done after the eighth inning. Like the famous 133 earlier this season, though, there are some who feel Francona needs to "take charge" and "not let Schilling call the shots". Which to me is bullshit--Schilling knows how his own arm feels; if he says he's done, he's done. But let's say Francona sent him back out anyway and he'd gotten bombed. Or, worse, hurt his arm. Which is the greater loss? Letting Schilling, who's told you he's done, get shelled and possibly hurt? Or taking your chances with the bullpen? Isn't the former the reason we fired Grady Little?
Then there's the Timlin argument. The crux of that one seems to be that Francona should've thrown caution to the wind with Mike Timlin, which a) as in the Schilling situation, had that gone wrong would also be grounds for Francona as the whipping boy and b) is not a situation about which any of us have as much information as Francona himself. In my opinion, if you don't have all the facts about a health / injury situation, you can't judge the decision made about the player.
In general, though, I just don't understand the basic mindset behind those constantly critiquing Francona. For example, I was interested to find that after Game 1 of the double-header was saved by Papi, none of the usual Francona-bashing suspects (at least the ones I hear from in my reading and daily conversations) had anything to say about Josh Beckett being sent back out to give up the two-run go-ahead homer to the Rangers when he was clearly out of gas, probably the first decision by Francona about which I would've agreed with them.
But we won, so there wasn't a peep--instead, there have been caterwauls galore about the next game, in which essentially a AA patch starter regressed to the mean and Foulke stunk up the joint. We lost by seven runs and people want to gnitpick about the lineups. How about, we got blown out of the water by a good team? How about, our pitching this year is not what it has been in recent years? Why must we bend over backwards to figure out how to blame Francona for the team's built-in shortcomings or simple bad performances?
I'm not saying I agree with this either--for me the blame-game is useless no matter where it's directed--but if you want to blame someone, blame Theo, for making moves for guys like Tavarez and Seanez. Blame him for trading Bronson Arroyo or acquiring Matt Clement. There are definitely arguments against that, too, but it at least makes more sense than blaming a manager for going to the bullpen he's been given to work with this season. What it comes down to for me is whether or not you believe that Francona can't manage the bullpen, or if you just believe that OUR BULLPEN SUCKS. And that it's not Terry Francona's job to fix it.
I just don't get it. Why is it that we can get all sabermetric and subtle with our statistical manipulations and analyses when it comes to finding a way to argue Francona's at fault, but the simplest and most obvious possible explanation--that this may be a transition year, that the front office may be trying to toe the line between competitive enough to put butts in seats and stocking intelligently for the future and in so doing leaving Francona out there to be a PR casualty--never seems to come up in conversation?
Foulke's hurt. Timlin's been hurt. Seanez and Tavarez are a bust. Wells is hurt. Arroyo was traded. Beckett's been inconsistent. Schilling's been shaky on the road. Be frustrated with that all you want--I'm right there with you. But what does any of that have to do one iota with Terry Francona?
Are we really going to be like this? Are we really going to have such a skewed sense of entitlement that we'll be calling for Francona's head by the end of this season, despite his overall track record with this team so far, just because someone's blood's gotta flow to make us feel better about a less than stellar squad this time around?
I always thought "patience" not being in a Boston fan's vocabulary was just a stereotype.