Their payroll is enormous, their lineup is loaded with All-Stars and MVP candidates, but the Red Sox are in the middle of a free-fall for the ages. The Sox have already lost the chance at the AL East crown and now they are looking to just get in the playoffs anyway possible. With seven games to go the Sox are clinging to just a two and a half game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays after it looked like they would cruise into October baseball.
Their collapse has been fascinating as the mighty Red Sox, with their gigantic payroll can’t find guys to pitch in September. John Lackey has been a disease, Clay Buchholz couldn’t stay healthy, and yesterday in their biggest game of the year, Josh Beckett let a 4-1 lead slip right through his fingers. It’s panic time in Beantown as the Red Sox nation is seeing their favorite team collapsing right in front of them.
Terry Francona joined WEEI in Boston with the Big Show to talk about whether or not the team is pressing, if he should start getting out of character to try and get his team’s attention, if he has had a chance to think about decisions he has screwed up that he would like to have back, when Clay Buchholz may be able to pitch again, and if he is feeling pressure building right now.
Whether or not the team is pressing:
“I think we’re probably a little bit of everything. The biggest word I would say is inconsistent. The one thing that has been consistent is we’re not getting deep into games with our pitching. We’re getting into our bullpen very early. When that happens you have to try to make things reach and sometimes they don’t. How many times do you get into a game when your starter comes out after three but you have a chance to win? It’s kind of a rarity. We told our relievers, we told (Daniel) Bard and Pap (Jonathan Papelbon), we tried to get three out of them and it didn’t work. You draw it up, you do what you think is correct, and when it’s over you try to answer the questions. You try to move on. That’s the best you can do.”
If he should go out of character to make his team respond:
“I don’t think I can act any different. Certainly we’re always here trying to do what we think is right and we always will, but going out of character isn’t going to make them play better. You can throw over the spread table and that might make Gene Mauch happy or the fans happy, but that doesn’t make these guys play better. Certainly I feel a need to be accountable for what is going on because it is my job to be accountable and I want us to play better but you can’t go out of character.”
Whether or not he has regrets about things he has done wrong as a manager this year:
“My responsibility right now is to help get us playing better. Right now is not the time to evaluate my managerial moves from a few weeks ago because it doesn’t help. You’ve been around me long enough to know that I’m probably harder on myself than anybody but right now we need to find ways to win games. When it’s over we can sit back and go okay we shoulda done this. Right now we need to win. If we’re beat up and a team is playing better than us we still need to win. That’s kinda how our mentality has to be.”
If he has team meetings scheduled:
“No that’s what we don’t want to do. We want to be consistent. We met up in Toronto and I told the guys how I felt. What I really want to do, if you wait too long and the manager explodes, all that helps is the manager. You let off a little blood pressure and you throw something and feel better. Guys can’t even hear ya and I can’t remember what I say. It was after a big win. I keep coming back to that word perspective. As difficult as things have been, last night we lost a killer game. We got to Pap and we lost. I can live with that. It hurts, but we have to play better. Right now we’re making mistakes and right now the mistakes are costing us games. We gotta play better.”
When Clay Buchholz will be able to pitch again:
“Maybe Sunday or Monday, that’s best case scenario. I hate to say that and I answered it because you’re sitting two feet away from me, putting pressure on me, and I wilted but it’s not fair to Buch. You know why. This kid has come a long way and he has done a terrific job to even put himself in a situation where this is something that we’re talking about. I don’t ever want it to be a situation where if he doesn’t pitch then he failed. This kid has done a terrific job.”
If he is starting to feel the pressure of getting to him:
“I don’t think pressure is the right word. I’m not happy with the way we have played and it’s my responsibility. Saying that I know where we’re at in the standings. We have a week to go and we’re actually ahead of the team in front of us. I wish we were feeling better about ourselves. That changes in a hurry too so it’s our responsibility to try to get it to change. I’m okay. I’m a little tired. I think we always are this time of year but we have a challenge ahead of us and I’ve been in the room with enough of those guys to think we’re gonna meet it.”