With all the questions swirling around the Red Sox in the aftermath of their historic collapse, baseball Hall of Famer Peter Gammons compared it to other similar downfalls. "It may never be the same," he said. "I was thinking about the 2007 Mets who were never the same. The 1995 Angels who blew a comparable lead and by the middle of the next season Marcel Lachemann was gone and there was total change in the franchise. The '64 Phillis were never the same. Gene Mauch was hearing about the '64 Phillies when he was 75 years old. You wonder a little bit."
First, the Sox must address manager Terry Francona who has two options years on his contract that the club needs to exercise in the 10 days following the end of the season. "I think what they have to do immediately is clear up whether or not Tito's option is going to be picked up," Gammons said. "I think everybody needs to know and I think that will entirely be ownership. If it was Theo [Epstein], he'd do it tomorrow."
Ultimately, Gammons believes that Francona will return next season.
As for the now infamous "disconnect" line between Francona and the front office, Gammons explained, "How I got that, just being around, I've been really concerned the last month. I think I was driving him crazy by asking him, 'Are you all right?' healthwise. I felt some disconnection that he kind of felt alone as the team was losing and I felt badly about that. Also you had Theo and Ben [Cherrington] working so hard trying to do things and get players and so forth, I really sensed that Tito was kind of out on his own island. It wasn't like a get rid of the manger statement. I do think there's a disconnect and a better word is distance. I think they've tried to address it and I think will be the best thing moving forward."
The Sox will also have to make a decision on Epstein who has one year left on his contract.
"Ownership has to sit down with Theo, OK what do you really want?" Gammons said. "He's got another year on the contract. I think it's been fairly clear that they want him here and after next year they can decide exactly what he does when his contract's up. Are he and [executive vice president/chief operating officer] Sam Kennedy going to be sort of co-CEO's? Nobody seems to know. I think that has to be cleared up."
Gammons does think the team will make changes to the coaching staff and that the team will try to move John Lackey, possibly for a similarly bad contract like Barry Zito or Carlos Zambrano, although Gammons acknowledged neither option was appealing.
"It's going to be hard to bring John Lackey back," Gammons said. "I'm not saying that I don't think he can ever pitch again. I just think it would be hard in Boston. 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."
Finally, Gammons also said the team needs to get the Carl Crawford they thought they were getting.
"Somehow they have to immediate address getting Carl Crawford's head back," Gammons said. "He clearly lost every bit of his confidence. That sliding catch that he missed twice in four days, those are things that he would do in his backyard 40 times a day. It's something he'd never think about. They need him very badly. They have to find a way to get to him this winter and they have also to figure out who's going to be healthy on that pitching staff."
For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.
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