Former Red Sox and current Indians manager Terry Francona, in an interview on WEEI’s Big Show on Wednesday afternoon to discuss his new book (“Francona: The Red Sox Years”), co-authored with Dan Shaughnessy, suggested that while he was unhappy with the fashion in which his Sox career came to an end after eight years, he still believes the Red Sox have a strong ownership group. While he suggested in the book that the group of principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and CEO Larry Lucchino represent a group that likes but does not love the game, he said that he did not mean for that statement to come across as disrespectful.
“I think they’re real good owners. In fact, I said that in the book. I wouldn’t have written the script – the way it ended, I wouldn’t have written it for me, personally. That doesn’t mean they’re not good owners,” said Francona. “I actually think they’re really good owners. I was disappointed in some of the things, in my communications with them, I was very disappointed. That doesn’t mean they’re not good people or good owners.
“Where some people said it was critical, I didn’t view it that way. I think I went out of my way and called them good owners. They’re not bad people. I had some issues with the way some things were handled. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people nor does it mean they’re bad owners,” he added. “I don’t think that’s saying anything that is disrespectful. … They’ve come in the game and they’re going to leave the game. This is what I’m going to do the rest of my life. I also said in that statement that they’re very good owners. I don’t view that as disrespectful.”
In the book, Francona did suggest that there were times when the team seemed to place greater emphasis on marketing and revenues than winning, as when the team flew back-and-forth across the country to play an exhibition game in Arizona prior to the 2005 season, when the team opened the 2008 campaign in Japan and when batting practice turned into something of a circus as throngs of fans started standing on the warning track between the dugouts.
All of that said, whereas former GM Theo Epstein described the emergence of a “Monster” that started to influence the team’s roster decisions and put a premium on “name” players (as when the team added first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Carl Crawford in December 2010), Francona said that to his knowledge, personnel decisions were driven by a desire to win.
“I don’t’ think we ever brought players in because of ['the Monster]. I think they wanted to improve the ratings and things like that. They did some surveys. But I know Theo always tried to bring in players he thought could win. That was what our job was,” said Francona. “When they asked me a question, going to Japan, or going to Phx to play an exhibition game, I wanted to give an opinion based on winning baseball games.”
Among the other topics addressed by Francona:
On whether he knows the identity of the individuals in the Red Sox organization who leaked personal information about his last year in Boston after his dismissal: “I actually don’t. I stopped trying. I stopped trying because you hear too much stuff. It wasn’t helpful. It wasn’t helping me get over and get past it. I think there are a lot of people with the Red Sox trying to find out a lot of stuff. It wasn’t doing me any good and it wasn’t healthy, so I just stopped.”
On whether it will be awkward to interact with Red Sox owners: “I don’t know. I haven’t really talked to them anyway. It probably would be a little awkward. … Larry Lucchino, when I got the job in Cleveland, sent me a real nice text message. When they hired John Farrell, I sent him one back. I think Larry likes a good fight. You can throw a punch at him and he’ll throw one back, and the next day you’ll wake up and he’s good to go. I’ve always kind of admired that about him. The other guys, I haven’t really talked to anyway, so I don’t know how it will be.”
On whether he will have a relationship with Red Sox owners going forward: “Probably not. John stopped answering my emails and stuff like that a long time ago. Probably not. I’m not really sure why that happened, but it did, so you move on.”
On his suggestions to Doc Rivers early in 2011 that something was missing with a roster that appeared loaded: “I just never felt, the ’11 team, we never got that personality, that stuff you’re just dying for as a team. We had talent, and that showed for a while, but we never had that team that cared about each other on the field. That was right from the beginning. We worked at it as a stuff. We just never got there. That fell on me. That’s why I was disappointed in myself.”
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