Nation STATion: Francona makes history

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Nation STATion: Francona makes history

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

You ever hear of Three Finger Mordecai Brown? He was a Hall-of-Fame pitcher who had a record of 239-130 and a lifetime ERA of 2.06. Youve definitely heard of David Boomer Wells, the pitcher who threw a perfect game and ended his career with a record of 239-157, with a 4.13 ERA. Did you notice what they have in common besides great nicknames? Right, they each finished with 239 wins, good for 57th on the all-time win list.

As you checked how the Yankees did yesterday, did you notice that Bartolo Colon got the win? Hes 7-6 on the season and now has 160 career wins, good for seventh among all active pitchers. The only ones ahead of him on the win list are Tim Wakefield, who picked up win No. 199 yesterday, Roy Halladay, who picked up win 181 yesterday, Tim Hudson with 174 wins, Livan Hernandez and CC Sabathia with 171 wins each, and Derek Lowe with 163 wins.

To be 57th all-time for wins and seventh among active winners reflects a combination of skill and endurance. You need good stuff and the ability to withstand the pressure of competition. A pitcher has a unique role in baseball because despite it being a team game, he is the individual who gets accorded the win or the loss based on the result. If a batter strikes out with the bases filled to end a close game, his personal stats may be affected adversely, but when you look at the record book, the pitcher get the loss.

The same is true for a manager. At the end of the season, if he lasts that long, he owns his teams record. Whether the group -- pitchers, batters, and front office members -- succeeds or fails is ultimately reflected in the managers record.

I mention that because over the weekend, Terry Francona achieved wins 1000 and 1001. This means that like Browns and Wells, Francona is 57th on the all-time win list among managers. It also means that like Bartolo Colon, Tito is seventh among all active managers with 1001 wins. Only Tony LaRussa (2,691), Jim Leyland (1,548), Dusty Baker (1,455), Bruce Bochy (1,333), Davey Johnson (1,158), Mike Scioscia (1,036) and Jack McKeon (1,028) are ahead of him. That is pretty elite company.

Francona picked up his first 285 wins, and 363 losses, with the Phillies. In four seasons in Philly (1997-2000), he never had a winning season, losing over 90 games twice. Now in his eighth season with the Sox, hes never had a losing season, and hes well on his way to winning over 90 games this season for the sixth time.

Joe Cronin (1935-47) is the Sox leader in the categories that measure a manager statistically. He managed the most games, 2007, won the most, 1071, and he lost the most, 916.

Tito is second to Cronin with 1233 games, 716 wins, and third in losses with 517. Pinky Higgins lost 556 games.

However, in the category that matters most: winning percentage, Terry has the highest in amongst the three with a .580 winning percentage and hes 199 games over .500 as the Sox manager, the most in team history. Among Sox managers who have managed over 200 games, there are only three who have a higher winning percentage: Jake Stahl (235 games managed) 144-88 .621, Joe McCarthy (369 games) 223-145 .606, and Steve ONeill (249 games) .602.

You can give Cronin the lead in games managed and won, but while he had two ring fingers, they were ringless. But Bill Carrigan (1915-16) and Terry are the only Sox manager who have two rings and Francona is the only Sox manager to reach the postseason more than twice.

Managing in baseball means dealing with the clubhouse, the dugout, the bullpen, the front office, the media, the fans, and now the 247 attention of social media and talk radio. It is a battle of endurance against roster moves, more and more stats, cross-country travel, rain delays, hotel rooms, press junkets, pre-season, regular season, and hopefully, post-seasons. It means battling through injuries for both the players and yourself, dealing with health issues made worse by lack of sleep, plane travel, and eating on the road. It means missing, and worrying, about your family who are in different places around the country and the world.

More than ever, a big part of managing today is dealing with players, agents, egos, and personalities. The great Sparky Anderson said, Baseball is a simple game. If you have good players and if you keep them in the right frame of mind then the manager is a success.

Over his tenure, Terry has sent 198 different Sox to the plate for at least one appearance.

He has seen 106 different Sox pitchers.

Since 2004, Terry has lived through 16 shortstops including Nomar Garciaparra, Cesar Crespo, Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese, Nick Green, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, and Alex Cora, the most prominent of the bunch. No team has tried more shortstops than the Sox over this time (the Reds and the Padres each used 12).

Hes brought in 79 different guys from the bullpen, only the Marlins have tried more (89).

There have been 67 different pitchers who earned a win and 69 who earned a least one loss.

Hes watched 72 different players go deep and hit 1495 homers, including 19 walkoffs.

Hes endured 86 different pitchers give up 1206 home runs, including 16 walkoffs.

There have been 54 different players who stole a base and 43 others who were caught stealing.

With five postseason appearances since 2004, he is tied with the Angels Mike Scioscia for the most by an American League manager and hes on his way to tying Joe Torre (six), the only major league skipper with more. And he wins in the postseason. Hes 28-17 (.622), the second-best record in major league history (minimum 25 games) behind Joe McCarthys 30-13 (.698) mark.

Francona has managed an assortment of personalities including Curt Schilling, JD Drew, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, Lugo, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Manny Ramirez and has brought out the best in most of them. The proof: 1001 wins.

And for all that, Terry, we say, Congratulations!

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.