Revisiting Early Managerial Changes

When should Terry Francona go? Obviously, whenever he wants. The two-time World Series winner isn't going anywhere; nor should he.

Still, with the Boston Red Sox starting 0-4, the worry in some corners of New England is palpable well beyond the Massachusetts border. Other Boston fans have a more sanguine view, as one observer I spoke to noted: "I've seen the Red Sox lose a road series before."

A four-game losing streak could even be taken as an omen for the Red Sox. In 2007, Boston's last World Series victory, the team had three such losing streaks. In 2004, the Red Sox lost five straight to start the month of May, then another four straight from May 31 through June 4. (They also lost three in a row to begin the ALCS against the Yankees.)

Still, if Theo Epstein goes against every parameter that has marked his successful tenure and rashly fires his manager on the basis of a ludicrously small sample, should he expect huge changes? Let's look at some examples.

Back in 2002, the Detroit Tigers believed Phil Garner was the right man to pilot their team. But after an 0-6 start, all of that changed somehow. Garner got the ax, and Luis Pujols took the helm. Rejuvenated, the Tigers won 55 games – but also, lost 100. Still, the evidence is clear: Detroit avoided a 0-162 record (Garner's pace) with the change.

In 1985, the New York Yankees struggled to a 6-10 start under Yogi Berra. George Steinbrenner fired the living legend and replaced him with Billy Martin, who helped New York to a 91-54 finish. The team's 97 wins came within two victories of first place. If only Steinbrenner had been more impulsive, it might have been enough to give the Yankees a pennant.

That's not to say an earlier firing always works. For instance, Steinbrenner also fired Bob Lemon after just 14 games, and a 6-8 record, in 1982. Gene Michael (44-42) and Clyde King (29-33) didn't do much better. Perhaps Lemon needed to go sooner, or this needed to be one of the five times Steinbrenner hired Martin. Or perhaps replacing Reggie Jackson with Dave Collins wasn't an inspired idea.

Still, rashly firing the manager can happen too early. Back in 1954, Phil Cavaretta got his walking papers in Spring Training after apparently expressing pessimism to the owner. Despite the change to Stan Hack, Chicago finished 64-90.

So as the Red Sox (or, more accurately, some callers into WEEI) mull the change, they must be careful. Unjustly firing the manager over a very small body of work is as much an art as it is a science.


Full Story | 114 Comments | Categories: Boston Red Sox

114 Responses to Revisiting Early Managerial Changes Leave a Reply

  1. Really? Way to link bait.

    • elclashcombo 4 years ago

      Seriously. I’m amazed the writer got 9 paragraphs out of this topic.

      • Fangaffes 4 years ago

        Callers to WEEI are, for the most part, terminally stupid and the show hosts make their living ranting about made-up crises and creating hate over trivial things. Sports Hub is nearly as bad, but without all the right-wing frothing-at-the-mouth in the morning. I love to talk about sports, but I just can’t bear to listen to these people any more. I listen to audiobooks now, instead.

  2. rickjimbo 4 years ago

    New England sports fans (and more importantly MEDIA) thrive on panic. Just think back to VMart and Beltre and how people were calling for Epstein’s head then. Sure perhaps Terry’s time with the Red Sox has run it’s course but that’s between him and ownership to determine. I hardly think now is the time however, my .02

    • Early_Riser 4 years ago

      Not all of us “thrive on panic”. A lot of us New Englandahs are actually sick of the hysterics, for what it’s worth.

    • Oilcanoworms 4 years ago

      I don’t thrive on panic. I’m a New Englander sports fan.

    • Oilcanoworms 4 years ago

      I actually thrive on good food, good beer adn a good woman…and the occasional Red Sox victory.

  3. Rick Stratton 4 years ago

    maybe fire the pitching coach (Curt Young).

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      Most Def! He has a terrible track record! *facepalm*

  4. jaydestro 4 years ago

    this is one of the lower points of posting in MLBTR

  5. BrancasBombers 4 years ago

    This is the most embarrassing bait this site has ever put up.

  6. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    should have been written in ABC form

    • Guest 4 years ago

      Enough already..This is an entirely appropriate article and if it were written and Girardi’s name has been in the post, all you fans would be jumping on the Yanks fans. In fact, I just read through a most of the comments and there aren’t that many Yanks fans blasting the Sox fans. We know better, we know the Sox are better team than what they have displayed. What I will say however, is it nice to see some of the hot air come out of your balloons up there..Can’t say I didn’t see this coming. Way WAY WAYYYY too much talk before the season got started and still a few things that needed answering and I think it is a foregone conclusion at this point that Saltkhjkhasjkhkjhdajksh will be rotated as back-up before long. With all the moves Theo made, that was by far his biggest mistake this offseason. So many directions we could go with this and I won’t, but Russel Martin is paying some serious dividends on the Yanks so far, has a great attitude and smart (calling games) or they should have resigned V-Mart and passed on Crawford and put the balance of those funds elsewhere…This is a discussion to have when the Sox are 6-20.

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

        check out my appreciation of this article for lampooning hastily drawn conclusions

        now check out my hastily drawn conclusions

  7. unbiasedhomer 4 years ago

    When the next “the internet makes us all dumber” article is written, they will point to this post as exhibit A.

    Boston could be managed by a monkey and win 90 games.

  8. qbass187 4 years ago

    Panic? Seriously?

    No one is panicing, people are aggravated by a poor start but “panic” is not the word for it.

    • RahZid 4 years ago

      There’s a ton of panic among band wagon fans / pink hatters. Personally, I’m just glad to be rid of those fans finally. Real fans know not to panic after a 4 game sample.

  9. wickedkevin 4 years ago

    I’d expect this from Yahoo and ESPN, but not MLBTR.

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      from fangraphs 17 Predictions That Will Be Right:

      1. There will be blog entries written early in the season than begin by warning about small sample size, then go on to ignore sample size anyway.

      • vonhayesdays 4 years ago

        The name Fangraphs alone just screams unprofessional and obviously biased. the site should go suck a lemon

        • bjsguess 4 years ago

          I hope that is a joke.

        • please explain why …

          • vonhayesdays 4 years ago

            i just have a hard time believing their stats sometimes. compare them to baseball-reference which i have been reading for close to a decade now and they are whey different . and also fan is short for fanatic and so we have fanatic graphs , thats all im a baseball-reference man through and through

  10. Very disappointing that this is even being brought up on this site.

  11. bigpat 4 years ago

    Losing John Farrell may have been a much greater loss than guys like Beltre or VMart. I’d expect the Sox to get on a hot streak soon, but it’s certainly a problem to get off to an 0-4 start in the AL East where every game matters.

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      not rly

      2009: 2-6 start
      2010: 4-9 start

      (fire spring training!)

    • Tko11 4 years ago

      Curt Young replaced Farrell though…hes just as good if not better.

  12. alexsato 4 years ago

    Really, to even consider to fire Francona would be a catastrophic mistake for not only the fans, but the team. The relationships he has built inside that clubhouse allows the players to play their games without having to worry about a manager who does not care. Francona IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE….people doubted the Sox in the 2004 ALCS and look what happened then.

  13. Yikes – I think some folks need to take it easy with the negative comments. This more of a tongue-in-cheek look back at some of the more impulsive managerial firings in baseball firings than an honest suggestion that Boston consider such a change – despite the post’s misleading title.

    • Tko11 4 years ago

      Yeah well the title is hard to ignore, especially for Red Sox fans like myself. Tampa Bay is 0-4, are they considering firing Joe Maddon based on four games? (I understand the expectations for the Rays are lower than the Sox but still they are 0-4 and Maddon has proven to be a good coach the previous few years)

      • bjsguess 4 years ago

        Yeah – but if you read the article it is clearly in jest. The writer is mocking those that make poor decisions based off small sizes.

        How you can read anything more into that is beyond me.

        • Tko11 4 years ago

          Its the headline, its extremely misleading.

          • MaineSox 4 years ago

            It was simply to get people to read it, and it clearly worked.

          • Tko11 4 years ago

            It worked but majority of the people didn’t like it…its like on Yahoo, Chris Chase always writes terrible articles with misleading headlines but people still read them. Not for the right reasons obviously which is why his reputation is ruined. Read the comments under a Chris Chase article on yahoo, you will get plenty of people requesting for him to be fired. I doubt MLBTR will post this type of stuff because 99% of the time they post good stuff. People would of read the article even if it had a different headline.

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Yeah, and increased Kleenex’s stock value.

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      Agreed. Some people take things too seriously. Owners, GMs and posters alike.

      “This just in. After one tongue-in-cheek post that wasn’t well received by MLBTR’s fanbase to start the day, Mr. Megdal was handed his walking papers by Tim ‘hell hath no fury’ Dierkes.”

  14. TrueYankeeFanNYC 4 years ago

    Bhahahahahaha. Wait the Yankees were suppose to have the questionable staff. Lackey says hi.

    • MetsEventually 4 years ago

      4 games into the season.

    • TrueYankeeFanNYC 4 years ago

      20 Mill per for a #7 hitter. That’s what I call an overpay. Wait for it…. wait for it…. Kei Igawa 5 yr 20 mill contract comment.

      • wickedkevin 4 years ago

        Dude…the O’s are undefeated. It’s April.

        • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

          They’re on pace to win 162!

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Dude, Showlwalter is the man..mucho respect for him. He calls people out and backs it up..Always liked the guy and couldn’t be happier for him with the results he has had to date..Makes that comment about the Red Sox resonate even more..

          • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

            actually

            He calls people out, then apologizes and makes excuses for what he said! Thats a lot of back bone there my friend!

          • RahZid 4 years ago

            He hasn’t backed it up at all yet, he hasn’t even played against Boston or New York… not to mention he coward away from his comments and apologized to the parties involved.

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      well this came out of nowhere!

      hmm…so yeah you all do have a questionable staff, turns out, so do the red sox!

      also Rafael Soriano dropped by last night to say hi as well!

      • qbass187 4 years ago

        OH SNAP!!!

      • Guest 4 years ago

        I was at the game last night. It was like 22 degrees when Soriano took the mound. I could barely hold my hot chocolate, let alone a baseball. I think that was a one time occurance solely based on the conditions.

        • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

          to start…I bet that was a miserable game to be at! I was cold just watching!

          as far as soriano, obviously I know he will be better, just a short comeback from a non sense post by TYFNYC. However, not one of the other yanks pitchers had trouble in the conditions! Rivera looked very good as a matter of fact! He sawed Morneaus bat in half!

          • Guest 4 years ago

            Agree about the other pitchers. Everyone is different. The weather was odd yesterday. I looked out my apt window before the game and saw people on the street in t-shirts, so I figured a light weight jacket would be good. The first 3 or 4 innings were fine, but once the 5th roled around about 8:30-9:00, the wind picked up and the temp plummeted. My girlfriend and I were shocked by the temp change so quickly. CC was out shortly after and swish and the gang had changed to head gear, etc. Yeah Mo seemed fine, but would you expect anything less from Jesus himself throwing fire??

          • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

            “Jesus throwing fire” was the image in my head! Hahah that was good! but either way, im not worried about soriano, he will be fine!

            oh by the way..tell your girlfriend I said hi…:)

    • Tko11 4 years ago

      Good job judging based on one start. I take it you think that R.A. Dickey will go 32-0 with 224 strikeouts.

  15. alexsato 4 years ago

    This article is ridiculous, Francona is not going anywhere and to even make such accusations of his tenure in Boston reveals only one aspect of this article, somebody likes the Yankees. Look what happened in 2004 ALCS, that’s right winning. Sox are fine and Terry is not going anywhere.

    • bjsguess 4 years ago

      Please re-read the article. He is mocking those that make changes over small sizes.

      He also says, again and again, that the motivation for even discussing this is coming from fans (as opposed to Red Sox management). I just don’t know how he could have been more clear outside of using

      /sarcasm

      for those that are completely unable to understand the article.

      • RahZid 4 years ago

        The original title was something like “Is Francona’s time over in Boston”, or something along those lines. That’s why people are so upset about this article. It was completely beneath what MLBTR stands for. The last 2 articles from Megdal that I have read have been absolute crap (this one and the ABC’s one). I may have missed some articles in between, maybe I’m just unlucky and only read his terrible stuff, but at the very least his writing makes Tim look even better.

  16. GlassJawn 4 years ago

    Terry Francona is the worst manager in baseball or at least the most overrated. I remember a game in the late 90’s when he was managing the Phillies where he played the infield out with a runner on third in a late inning because they had a day game in another city the next day.

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      Ill take the worst manager in baseball if he brings in two World Series Championships in the past 10 yrs!

      Plus, if you have to remember back to the late 90’s for his last bad decision, then he is probably pretty damn good at his job.

    • Tko11 4 years ago

      Worst and the most overrated are completely different…After that your argument goes even more downhill when you say you remember “a game” one game, where he made a mistake because other managers are flawless. Remember that game in August of 2004 were the Yankees lost 22-0 to the Indians. Yeah without a doubt the Yankees are the worst team in baseball based on that game. Not to mention Francona has 2 rings in his 7? year Red Sox tenure. He obviously had completely nothing to do with them coming back from being down three games (the lost game 3 19-8) to none and winning that series.

  17. MetsEventually 4 years ago

    Srsly guy? It’s the fourth game of the season.

  18. I’m disappointed to see such nonsense posted to my favorite site.

  19. Blue387 4 years ago

    I’m surprised you didn’t speculate as to when the governor would call out the National Guard.

  20. Tko11 4 years ago

    So Howard Megdal is code for Chris Chase? Francona isn’t going anywhere, they have yet to play a game at home this season. They have a lot of new players and they need some time to adjust, I hate comparing them to the Miami Heat but look at the first few weeks of the Heat’s season…

    • RahZid 4 years ago

      That’s exactly what I was thinking earlier today. You bring together some stars and it takes a while to click. I had hoped that they would have gelled in spring training though.

  21. SoxFanInFl 4 years ago

    2 world series titles including the first in 86 years. I think he knows what he is doing. Plus he wasn’t the one out there pitching and giving up all those long balls.

  22. Holidayjesus 4 years ago

    Steinbrenner fired managers in and out until he got Torre so I don’t see how thats even relates to this story. Terry Francona does not need to be fired, maybe the other coaches under him should be. But in all honestly, who is there better than Francona that is not occupied at the moment?

    Lets face it the hitting coach for the Red Sox there was just to lure Gonzalez. A lot of the hitters in the lineup are lacking consistency with their batting stance and techniques from what they portrayed last year. Carl Crawford is a prime example, his front foot is out of the batting box in his stance which is making him slow to the ball and missing balls that he could of easily hit last year. Small stuff like that builds up.

    Another great example is Salty and his plate discipline, utter joke. Okay yeah, I understand he’s struggling but still. He’s the not same relaxed hitter he was in Spring training. But then again, I have yet to really even look at his hitting mechanics.

    To be honest, I’m going to blame a portion of Salty’s plate struggles on the bad pitching going on. A struggling YOUNG catcher at the plate will call bad games. You know why?, he is constantly thinking or referring to the pitches that he should of hit or not swing at and that will definitely effect the next pitch he is about to call or suggest to the pitcher that may also be struggling with command issues.

    Honestly, I think it all goes back to Francona. It is his job to give his team and coaches a swift kick in the ass and motivate the hell out of them. Start the veteran catcher Varitek and slowly ease their other starting catcher back in.

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      So did you watch quick pitch last night by chance? Turns out, they broke down CC’s stance with a bit more detail?

      Funny thing is, I noticed his stance was a quite a bit different as well! Hoep he fixes it!

      • Holidayjesus 4 years ago

        Haha yeah, I love Quick Pitch! Been watching it everyday pretty much since the show came out. haha

        • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

          Harold Reynolds is the MAN! I used to watch baseball tonight until Quick Pitch started coming on!

          • vonhayesdays 4 years ago

            whats quick pitch and how can i get down

          • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

            its a show on MLBNetwork. Kinda like baseball tonight but 10X better. Not sure what you mean with rest of your statement/question?

          • Tko11 4 years ago

            “How can I get down” = how can I get in on this? Just a guess though.

          • 100x better, and mostly because you don’t have to hear or see Busted Olney and Tim Kurkji-midget … Baseball Tonight used to rule in like the 90’s

            unfortunately Heyman and Rosenthal sometimes come on MLB, but its a minor inconvenience

          • vonhayesdays 4 years ago

            i just meant where can i find the show and watch it sorry for confusing lingo

          • East Coast Bias 4 years ago

            That combination of Harold and Lieter is so good! They actually have personalities, unlike the espn guys. And the banter of hitter vs pitcher is always fun.

  23. This article is just unnecessary, it’s ridiculous to think they’d fire him 4 games into the season.

  24. csg 4 years ago

    This is a total waste of time. Its 4 games people…Can this article just be deleted?

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      This Post has been flagged by those with common sense who refuse to panic after 4 games

  25. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    If we are going to make a post about the Sox panic should we not also make a post about the Orioles dominance and impending World Series title?

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      Pretty sure Buck Sho got in the sox’s head, now he has complete mind controll over them and the rest of the AL East! My prediciton..Orioles 162-0!

      • Tko11 4 years ago

        Well thats funny, the Phillies radio broadcasters said the Phillies would go 162-0 until they got killed by the Mets last night. Then they said 161-1.

  26. jaydestro 4 years ago

    i’ve always enjoyed the news and insight that mlbtr provides, but this is neither. it’s a low form of link bating and way below the standards the site normally adheres to. i know tim needs to have people provide interesting content from time to time that makes you think, but this simply is not it. this site has and can do better. i know it’s my choice to read this stuff, but this is just not even a consideration in the grand scheme of the baseball season. just poor writing and even worse headline.

  27. It seems to me a lot of years that Baltimore/Toronto jumps out to a hot start, then never stays there. I expect this to be the case again. The Sox seem to need a few weeks to kick start every year, and this year is no different (especially with the additions). They are putting sooooo much pressure on themselves, because of all the predictions, expectations, that they are in much need to relax and let the game be that… a game.

    They will be fine. For crying out loud, it’s only 4 games into the season. 158 more to go (not including post season – :-) ).

    If they go 0-10 then I’ll start getting concerned a little, but once the guys start coming together as a team, all cylinders will start firing.

    And I agree, MLBTR, shame on you for this article (although it woke up the true Red Sox Fans).

  28. These are the kind of articles that earned MLBTR a reputation as an unreliable source a few years ago. You’ve taken such great steps forward, please stop with this nonsense.

  29. Makes me think of the current Miami Heat team. Ton of talent, but they needed to play together a bit to put it all together. I think there is very little doubt that the Red Sox will be a good to great team this year.

  30. TheHotCorner 4 years ago

    4 games into the season and someone is pressing the “Panic Button”. Seriously? I doubt it.

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      in terms of sample size, it’s the roughly the equivalent of the first half of the first quarter of the first game of a football season. only smaller

  31. johnsilver 4 years ago

    Got to love the New England Media and a decent portion of new England front running fans for all the teams.. Ready to jump on the band wagon when the team(s) are winning and root and ready to yell, scream and pitch a fit when things don’t go exactly right.

    Here is a nice thought. Put down the Boston Globe for once and just watch the team go through this loss streak.. Things will change ok?

    • is that one of those newspaper thingies they show people reading on TV shows before there was color in the world ?

  32. briankoke 4 years ago

    Completely ridiculous waste of internet space.

  33. bobmac 4 years ago

    What an inane story this is.

  34. unbiasedhomer 4 years ago

    How cute. They’ve now termed this a “tongue in cheek” piece on Twitter, linking right back to it. This is worse than Bleacher Report. Just put a slideshow in here of the top 10 managers fired after 4 games or the top 13 most dramatic overreactions in sports history to finish it off.

  35. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    title change! too bad. ruins my When Will Pujols Be Cut joke

  36. Guest 4 years ago

    I think the only ones panicking is the media. I hate when media reports false info or overuses a story, like brett favre, just to get ratings. Which doesnt really work because i just turn it off when they do this.

  37. cardsfan05 4 years ago

    I’m just baffled by how stupid some of the people that post in this comments section are. I mean, Howard says that firing a coach prevented the Tigers from going 0-162. If you can’t pick up on the fact that this article was satire after reading that, then you can’t be described as anything other than “dense”.

    I don’t even know why I bother to read the comments on this site. It’s an absolute cesspool.

    • unbiasedhomer 4 years ago

      I don’t even know why they bother to post crap like this that isn’t a trade rumor, a personnel move or some kind of analysis of such. They invented blogs for people to write unfunny attempts at snark.

  38. It is so ridiculous to see how many peoples heads this went right over. He’s not saying Terry Francona should be fired or that Red Sox fans should start panicking, he is making fun of the media/fans for portraying it that way! Doesn’t anybody know what satire is!?

  39. This article shocked me as a Sox fan, mainly because I didn’t even know anyone was thinking this. Francona isn’t going anywhere. The team is off to a slow start, Crawford won’t be batting like Julio Lugo all season, the pitchers will hopefully start to come around, and we’re going to score tons of runs. Francona has a place in Sox history with the most WS rings for a manager and most importantly he has endeared himself to the fans and the organization. He is a clubhouse manager, he has a lineup of allstars and his job is more focused on keeping the team a team as opposed to Managers like Showalter who have to manufacture runs with anemic lineups.

    I expect to see Tito in Boston for a long long time.

    And yes the points made in this article were funny, but yeah some people are taking it serious

  40. rootlinuxusr 4 years ago

    Missing the firing of Cookie Lavagetto(from wiki):

    Lavagetto was the first manager in Twins’ history, but he did not finish the 1961 season. With the Twins mired in ninth place in the new ten-team AL(19-30), he took a seven-game leave of absence in early June, then returned to the helm. But he was fired June 23 with the club still in ninth place(23-36). He was replaced by Sam Mele, under whom the Twins became pennant contenders in 1962. Lavagetto’s major league managing record was 271 wins and 384 defeats (.414).

  41. BaseballFanatic0707 4 years ago

    Are some Red Sox fans REALLY calling in on this?

    Only a lout thinks the Red Sox will not have, AT WORST, a commanding lead of the Wild Card come September. And I use the AT WORST extremely loosely. This coming from a Yankees fan, I’m fully expecting them to win the AL East by about 5 games if all goes right for them.

  42. Tko11 4 years ago

    hahhaahha thanks, I dont even remember the headline anymore

  43. Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

    and the post of the day goes to…NOT SURE!!!

  44. Tko11 4 years ago

    I bet you wish your team had a “mediocer” manager who has two rings in the past ten years.

  45. MaineSox 4 years ago

    That was a mediocer attempt at humor.

  46. rickjimbo 4 years ago

    That must be it, as I sit in my office in Boston and listen to the chirping sounds of spring out my window. I probably should have only said media but I didn’t, so seeing as all you have to add is that you assume I only know 3 New England sports fan – right back at ya, Generalizer McGee.

  47. MaineSox 4 years ago

    I know, I was making a joke because he also misspelled the word mediocre. Re-read my post and you’ll see what I mean.

  48. You're Killing Me Smalls 4 years ago

    Sorry, his comments along with mine, for some reason, were deleted. Hard to follow who you were speaking to.

  49. notsureifsrs 4 years ago

    comment removed for summing up the entire thread

  50. Tko11 4 years ago

    Hold on…I thought they have to approve pictures before they are posted? They approved it and then removed?

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