Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why Tito Should Have Won

Eric Wedge, AL Manager of the Year…I can live with that. He’s done a good job in Cleveland especially when you look at what the Indians have done the last two years a little closer. They nearly snagged a playoff spot last year and this year they fell one sub-par Josh Beckett performance from going to the World Series.

In addition to that they also boasted one of the most potent lineups in the league, even if Hafner struggled they still had something like 5 or 6 guys with 20+ homers. Not to mention the Cy Young winner and the decision to move Fausto Carmona to the rotation worked out pretty well. He finished fourth in the Cy Young voting after a less than stellar 2006 season in the bullpen. Plus he’s a Massachusetts guy so I can’t really fault him for that.

Now with that said here is why I think Terry Francona should have won. This is similar to what I wrote about Mike Lowell being the MVP. I understand that people will disagree but this is why I think Tito is just as deserving of the honor.

The voting takes place before the playoffs so obviously seeing him out manage Wedge in the playoffs would have chanced some peoples votes but such is life. Since the playoffs don’t count you have to remember his decision save Paps & Okie for the playoffs, which worked perfectly, can’t be counted but you have to like or at least respect his long-term focus. Things would be different if the Sox didn’t win but he’s very good at seeing the big picture and that’s why I think he’s the best manager in the game.

His team won an AL East crown and that’s something that hadn’t happened in the hub for the previous 13 summers. That is a major feather in Tito’s cap, especially when you consider he is managing in the AL East where the Yankees are always a virtual playoff lock even when they start out miserably they still find away to play almost .700 ball down the stretch. While the playoffs might not count, winning in the AL East is big points.

Tito’s ability to see the big picture is what makes him the best manager in my mind. I always say this when people ask me what I think of him or when people get on him. His short-term decisions might cost the Sox a run or even a game here or there but in the long run he’s been just about perfect.

He stuck with Pedroia, which might have been the best decision he’s made in his tenure in Boston. Even before the season there was a lot of talk about how we shouldn’t have let Mark Loretta go, he lead the team in hits in ’06 and was a great veteran presence. I even wrote here that I wanted them to keep Loretta with a one or two-year deal and bring Pedroia along slowly like they did with Yook. Turns out Pedroia didn’t need to be brought along slowly.

Despite initial struggles Mighty Mouse broke out and hit .317 with a .380 OBP, eight homers, 50 RBI and a team low 42 strikeouts. And he played solid defense at second. He might not be a gold glover but I think his fielding is underrated - all en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award. One could certainly make the argument he could have been World Series MVP. He also saved Clay Buchholz’s no-hitter. I don’t think the level of excitement surrounding him would be what it is without that no-hitter and without Pedroia’s diving stop and great throw the no-hitter wouldn’t have happened. I’m not saying Pedroia is directly responsible for the hype about Clay but he certainly didn’t hurt Buchholz’s cause.

Early in the year people here were killing Pedroia. I was at a game and people were actually chanting “DON’T SUCK PEDROIA’ – ouch! WEEI was full of people calling in and calling Tito a moron for not putting in Alex Cora. Really, looking back, what the hell were we thinking? Cora seems like a great guy, he’s been a solid utility guy and he’ll be a good manager some day but if in everyday lineup would he really have made a big difference?

Tito also stuck with Lugo and Drew in the face of constant criticism, much like what he faced with Pedroia. I’ll be the first to admit that those two were disappointments in their first seasons in Boston but what were the alternatives, Cora and Eric Hinske? Yikes. Before you jump on me and say Ellsbury should have been in over Drew, that wasn’t an option in the early going. To be honest it wasn’t an option until the called him up to play for an injured Manny.

Here is to hoping Pedroia doesn’t go the route of Hinske after winning the rookie of the year…geez even in all this joy I’m still so cynical

No matter how much you hate JD Drew I find myself wanting to like him. When he makes contact he looks like one of best hitters in the game and he hit the 14 million dollar grand slam so all is forgiven…unless he plays miz again next year…people will be giving him the Coco treatment and trying to run him out of town.

Speaking of Coco he really just got unlucky. He plays great defense but his bat slumped at the wrong time opening the door for Jacoby. This is the one spot were I do fault Tito, for not making the switch in Cleveland in game four.

He gave Coco one more shot at turning it around in the Beckett game when he knew that the team wouldn’t need a lot of offense but I do like the fact that he made the change. And again that’s playoffs so even if the voters didn’t like it, it has no bearing on the award.

So lets recap – at the time of voting – AL Champs, Rookie of the Year Candidate, Cy Young Candidate – Best Record – Home field advantage (which was huge) – all despite making decisions that Boston fans ripped him for – i.e. shutting down Paps and Okie – going with Gagne and keeping Jacoby in a backup role.

No matter what you think of Tito he puts his team in a position to win. He’s willing to sacrifice certain battles in order to win the larger war, so to speak. I’ve always been a fan of players getting individual award but I’m also a Patriots fan so to me the team winning trumps all and I’m sure Tito would rather have an other World Series ring than a Manager of the Year trophy – and I’m willing to bet Eric Wedge feels the same way.

Side note: I’m not taking anything away from Wedge I think he’s done a great job in Cleveland and if I was an Indians fan I’d be pretty happy with what he’s done and where the team could go…

Now, for some reason Tito still gets no credit from Boston fans. I don’t understand why people don’t come around and at least respect the fact that he knows what he’s doing I think he’s proved that much hasn’t he? How when he’s won two World Series are people still calling him a fool? It makes no sense.

The Red Sox don’t win in spite of him either, I’m sorry but that’s dumb. I’ll certainly willing to admit the occasionally makes a call that costs them a game here or there but those gambles have paid off haven’t they? What more do you want from the guy?

The reason why I wrote this is because for some reason a manger that easily could have won the Manager of the Year award in the AL gets no credit from the fans. It’s fine if you don’t think he’s the best manager I am no problems with that but I think what he’s done for this team certainly require some form of respect of the fact that he knows what he’s doing.

The things people say about Tito could be said about Theo as well but in the long term their plans, moves and decisions have worked out pretty well. If we are willing to let some of the bad moves Theo has made slide because of the results of the big picture then why aren’t we willing to afford Tito the same?

This isn’t to say no everyone dogs Francona thought. I was at the Celtics game and he got a well-deserved standing ovation. The standing O has been a little overdone in the past but it was a genuinely deserved standing ovation and made me proud to be a Boston sports fan.

Two days, two posts we are getting back on track here at The Red Seat.


Talk about running up the score
The Celtics are truly something to behold right now. KG, Jesus and Pierce are so much fun to watch and they are destroying teams…they beat the Nets by 30 last night…they never beat the Nets by 30! I really think they are going to show everyone they are for real beyond the first seven games of the year. I think we see them in the Eastern Conference Finals…at least.

The Patriots haven’t lost to the Bills since the Lawyer Milloy Bowl…the team is 8-0 against Buffalo in their last eight meetings…Tom Brady is 31-2 on artificial surfaces and something like half the league plays on FieldTurf now (Dallas plays on SportTurf and Denver plays on a hybrid called DD Grassmaster – insert obligatory stoner joke here)…Brady’s two turf losses were in the Milloy game in Buffalo and last year’s AFC Championship game…a.k.a. he went more than four years without losing a game on turf.

What Now Peyton?
Not to be a glutton and not to say Peyton Manning isn’t one of the best quarterbacks ever but it will be interesting to see if Manning continues to struggle without Marvin Harrison and Dallas Clark…in true my-dad-could-beat-up-your-dad fashion I’ll say this - Tom Brady won three Super Bowls with just ok receivers to throw to (with the exception of Troy Brown in 2001 and Dieon Brach in ’03 and ‘04) – It’s fun to spark debate isn’t it?

Really with the ticket prices
Come on Sox, I understand there are reasons you have to jack up the price of tickets but you have to meet us half way…if we have to pay more you have to keep fielding a World Series caliber team…ok? All right then deal Howie.

The F You Non-New England Sports Fan Moment is…Could be the MLS Cup this Sunday…think about it if the Revs win wouldn’t that just be the ultimate “we’ve had enough of these New Englanders and their damn winning teams” moment…. we could be looking at a legit revolt…everyone hates us as it is if the revs win we are officially the Galactic Empire…if the Pats run the table we’ll have blown up Alderan and if the Celtics win…we are you’re father

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