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

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114 Comments on "Revisiting Early Managerial Changes"


4 years 4 months ago

Really? Way to link bait.

elclashcombo
4 years 4 months ago

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

Fangaffes
4 years 4 months 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.

rickjimbo
4 years 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months ago

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

Oilcanoworms
4 years 4 months ago

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

Rick Stratton
4 years 4 months ago

maybe fire the pitching coach (Curt Young).

Ben_Cherington
4 years 4 months ago

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

jaydestro
4 years 4 months ago

this is one of the lower points of posting in MLBTR

Rangersfan32
4 years 4 months ago

Exactly. I’d expect this from Yahoo, but not MLBtr.

wickedkevin
4 years 4 months ago

Is there an echo in here?

BrancasBombers
4 years 4 months ago

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

notsureifsrs
4 years 4 months ago

should have been written in ABC form

Guest
4 years 4 months 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 4 months ago

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

now check out my hastily drawn conclusions

unbiasedhomer
4 years 4 months 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.

qbass187
4 years 4 months ago

Panic? Seriously?

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

JB3
4 years 4 months 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.

4 years 4 months ago

lol i hate the pink hat’s and haveing to read about pink hat nation ! a curse on whoever came up with them and their first born !!!!

wickedkevin
4 years 4 months ago

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

notsureifsrs
4 years 4 months 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 4 months ago

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

bjsguess
4 years 4 months ago

I hope that is a joke.

4 years 4 months ago

please explain why …

vonhayesdays
4 years 4 months 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

4 years 4 months ago

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

bigpat
4 years 4 months 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 4 months ago

not rly

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

(fire spring training!)

Tko11
Tko11
4 years 4 months ago

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

alexsato
4 years 4 months 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.

4 years 4 months ago

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
Tko11
4 years 4 months 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 4 months 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
Tko11
4 years 4 months ago

Its the headline, its extremely misleading.

MaineSox
4 years 4 months ago

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

Tko11
Tko11
4 years 4 months 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 4 months ago

Yeah, and increased Kleenex’s stock value.

Redbirds16
4 years 4 months 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.”

notsureifsrs
4 years 4 months ago

two*

TrueYankeeFanNYC
4 years 4 months ago

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

MetsEventually
4 years 4 months ago

4 games into the season.

TrueYankeeFanNYC
4 years 4 months 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 4 months ago

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

East Coast Bias
4 years 4 months ago

They’re on pace to win 162!

Guest
4 years 4 months 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 4 months ago

actually

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

JB3
4 years 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months ago

OH SNAP!!!

Guest
4 years 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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
Tko11
4 years 4 months ago

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

4 years 4 months ago

I would not be surprised :-)

Tko11
Tko11
4 years 4 months ago

In all seriousness I can see Dickey having an even better season than last year. Maybe not era wise but overall.

alexsato
4 years 4 months 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 4 months 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.

JB3
4 years 4 months 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.

GlassJawn
4 years 4 months 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 4 months 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
Tko11
4 years 4 months 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.

MetsEventually
4 years 4 months ago

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

4 years 4 months ago

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

Blue387
4 years 4 months ago

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

Tko11
Tko11
4 years 4 months 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…

JB3
4 years 4 months 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.