Terry Francona will not return as manager of the Boston Red Sox, the team announced after meeting with him on Friday morning.
”We met this morning to look back on the 2011 season and to consider the future of the Boston Red Sox, including my involvement with the club. I passed along my frustrations at my inability to effectively reach the players. After many conversations and much consideration, I ultimately felt that, out of respect to this team, it was time for me to move on,” Francona said.
”I’ve always maintained that it is not only the right, but the obligation, of ownership to have the right person doing this job. I told them that out of my enormous respect for this organization and the people in it, they may need to find a different voice to lead the team.”
His departure, as first reported by FOXSports.com, comes in the wake of the Red Sox blowing a nine-game lead in the American League wild-card race, the biggest ever held by a team in September that failed to make the playoffs.
”Nobody at the Red Sox blames Tito for what happened at the end of this season; we own that as an organization. This year was certainly a difficult and draining one for him and for us,” GM Theo Epstein said. ”Ultimately, he decided that there were certain things that needed to be done that he couldn’t do after eight years here, and that this team would benefit from hearing a new voice.
”While this may be true, his next team will benefit more than it knows from hearing Tito’s voice. I will miss seeing Tito every day in the manager’s office, and I wish him and his family nothing but the best in their next chapter.”
Francona now is free to pursue long-term contracts with other clubs. The White Sox’s position currently is open, and Francona managed five seasons in their minor-league system in the early 1990s.
The Cubs could be another possibility for Francona once they hire a new general manager and proceed with the expected dismissal of manager Mike Quade. Francona played for the Cubs in 1986.
Or Francona — after eight years under intense scrutiny in Boston — could decide not to manage at all in 2012.
The decision came as both of the American League Division Series were set to begin. So, obviously, the Red Sox were a hot pregame topic in Texas and New York.
”I know how well liked he is by his players and that city and in baseball in general. He’s a great guy; he’s not just a good guy,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ”It’s not easy.”
Maddon’s Rays, and Joe Girardi’s Yankees both made the postseason out of the same division as Boston.
”These jobs are precious, there’s no doubt about it. There’s expectations. A lot of times they’re extremely high expectations when you’re in certain towns,” Girardi said. ”We understand that when we take the job. High expectations are better than no expectations. You do enjoy it and you enjoy your time when you’re there.
”Tito has done a great job there.”
The Red Sox went 744-552 under Francona, and 8-0 in World Series games under him, sweeping the Cardinals and Rockies. He became the first manager to win his first six World Series games.
Francona managed the Phillies from 1997 to 2000. He was a special assistant to the GM with the Indians in 2001, then the bench coach for the Rangers in 2002 and Athletics in ‘03 before taking over the Red Sox in ’04.