Red Sox Notes: Francona, Epstein, Ortiz, Papelbon

On September 3, the Red Sox had a 99.6% chance of making the postseason, according to statistican Nate Silver.  The next day, Silver notes that Bill Buckner played himself on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm that spoofed Buckner's legendary World Series error.  The Sox went 6-18 after Buckner's cameo.  As Larry David himself would say, that is a prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay big coincidence.

Some notes from Boston as the fallout continues from the Red Sox' legendary collapse….

  • Theo Epstein and Terry Francona met with the media today, and Alex Speier from WEEI had the details.  Epstein said that the team had just finished an initial review of its baseball personnel and wouldn't make any decisions for a few days yet. 
  • Epstein said that Francona wasn't being singled out as the cause for Boston's collapse.  "That would be totally irresponsible and totally short-sighted and wouldn’t recognize everything he means to the organization and to all our successes, including, at times, in 2011,” Epstein said.  “So we take full responsibility for what happened, all of us. Collectively it was a failure….I’m the general manager so I take more responsibility than anybody. I don’t think we believe in – I know we don’t believe in scapegoats. In particular, no one blames Tito for what happened in September. Look, we all failed collectively."
  • Epstein dismissed rumors about his connection to the Cubs' general manager's job as "just speculation."
  • Francona said he wasn't yet prepared to discuss his future with the Sox, saying last night's devastating result was "still pretty fresh and pretty raw."  The manager said he and Epstein would sit down within the next few days.
  • Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated hears from several "baseball people" that Francona and the Sox could mutually decide to part ways.  If Francona does leave, it probably won't be to the White Sox, as Heyman hears Chicago "may go younger" (both Twitter links).
  • Epstein said the club would examine its process for evaluating free agents, given the failures of John Lackey, Carl Crawford and past free agents like Matt Clement and Julio Lugo.  Though Lackey and Crawford struggled this season, Epstein said the team will do everything possible to get both players back up to par for 2012.
  • Epstein praised the performances of David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon, saying he hopes the Sox can figure out a way to bring both pending free agents back to Boston this winter.
  • Peter Gammons thinks Lackey may have to be traded for another bad contract like Barry Zito or Carlos Zambrano, reports's Paul Flannery.  "I'm not sure John is ever going to fit in Boston again. I understand how upset he is but I think it's going to be hard for fans to warm up to him again," Gammons said.  Gammons notes that other teams who suffered late-season breakdowns underwent major organizational changes, though he thinks Francona will return as manager.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney looks at some key figures on the Red Sox and Braves whose status is in question in the wake of both teams' terrible Septembers.  Olney thinks Lackey has to be moved, predicts changes to Boston's coaching staff and hears it's "highly unlikely" Epstein leaves, though friends of the GM say he would embrace the challenge of running the Cubs.
  • Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal thinks Epstein should take the fall for building a roster with too many holes.

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