Friday, September 30, 2011, wasn't exactly a day that most Red Sox fans would want to relive over and over again. Not only did they have to see previews for Game 1 of the American League Division Series that included the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers, they had to deal with the manager, or should I say former manager of the Boston Red Sox, Terry Francona leaving the team.
We all know how horrible of a September the Red Sox had, but was there any one person to blame? The only thing that could even be credited as a source to the absolute collapse of the team this season, is the performance of the entire Red Sox team. Especially the fastballs and breaking balls from the starting rotation that were simply not working.
Let me point out the Red Sox pitching staff first. In my opinion, this was the most crucial reason to the collapse of the team this season. With an astounding 5.84 earned run average in September the pitching staff allowed 158 runs in just 27 games. The participants in this absolute wreckage of allowing runs wasn't just the starting rotation, it extended to the bullpen. However, I have another problem.
Alfredo Aceves was turned to more times than a long reliever has ever been expected to. He finished second on the team in innings pitched in September with 25 innings in 12 appearances, all in which were in relief. Not to mention, he had a September ERA of 1.80. What about the top starter on the team during the month you ask? Jon Lester started 6 games going 31.2 innings, all while allowing 19 runs and producing a 5.40 ERA.
On the flip side of the coin you look at the offense and when you look at the team's average during this epic collapse, it seems like a perfectly normal batting average for a decent team, not great, but decent; .280 for the last 30 days. The hitters that were expected to come out big did what they were supposed to. Jacoby Ellsbury was on fire with a .358 average with 8 home runs and 22 runs, followed by Adrian Gonzalez who batted .318 and driving in 14 runners. Dustin Pedroia was also there with a .304 average while scoring 18 runs and driving in just about 1 run per run scored with 19 total RBIs.
All of this just boils down to my main point. The more I go on Facebook, or scan through my Twitter feed, or scroll through comments on other blog sites, I notice Red Sox fans, even fans that claim they are absolutely dedicated to the team, saying that Terry Francona "got fired" or "Theo Epstein failed to find the source to the problem." I tried to fix the errors, yet after correcting one wrong statement, there was another statement being mentioned that Tito got the boot.
In a press conference tonight both by the man himself, Terry Francona, and a separate conference with ownership it was made clear that Terry Francona was not fired. More than once Francona mentioned that he felt there needed to be a "new voice" in the clubhouse and that, "he's done all he can." During the ownership press conference Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, and General Manager Theo Epstein clearly stated that Terry Francona was not at all the reason as to why the collapse of the Red Sox in the remaining month of the regular season happened.
With all this said, Tito did not receive any blame from any member of the Red Sox organization; he didn't get fired; and most importantly he did not leave on bad terms. It's not going to be easy to find someone who can fill the shoes that Francona so successfully wore through his 8 years with the Sox. However, what can be said is the Red Sox ownership are going to look for someone who has that, "New voice" that Francona mentioned the clubhouse needed. It is with this that can help lead the Boston Red Sox to a postseason and hopefully another World Series.