Boston Red Sox Francona Visits Waltham’s Bentley University

Filed in Sports by on January 14, 2010 0 Comments
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Last night Boston Red Sox Manager Terry Francona spoke at Waltham based Bentley University.  My husband and I were lucky enough to attend the event that was appropriately called the Grand Slam Event.  The event was sponsored by the Bentley Executive Club.  I did not think I was going to be that impressed by Francona.  Like many Boston Sports Fans we tend to think we know all the answers.  This past Red Sox Season left many of us disappointed since of course we always expect championships from our teams ;-).  My husband is a great sports fan and he also came to the event not being too impressed by Francona.  We both left the event with a much higher level of respect for the man who has brought 2 World Series Championships to Boston Red Sox fans everywhere.

Francona was not alone at this Grand Slam event he was accompanied by Brad Mills who was his bench coach but is moving on to be Manager of the Houston Astros this year.  John Farrell the pitching coach was also there offering insights into the management of the pitching staff.  The event almost had an Oprah like feel to it since they had a set with leather chairs where they sat as they were asked questions that had been sent in and some questions from the audience.  The topic was “The Management of Baseball“.

I can’t cover all the questions that were asked but here are some of the questions and comments that seemed the most memorable (please note I will be paraphrasing a little):

Many were curious about what the speakers thought were the keys to success in the 2010 season.
Farrell emphasized the key was to remain injury free with the pitching staff, a view that was also agreed to by Francona and Mills.

Me: There were also question around how important the hitting would be.  I was surprised to hear Francona say that a good pitching staff with OK hitting is better than an emphasis on hitting.  I could go either way on this one since a hitting lineup like the Yankees for example always seem to be in the game whether it’s the second inning or the ninth.

What was a favorite Manny moment that was not well-known to the public?

Mills recounted a game where Manny thought he had been told he was out of the game and went to the locker room to change even though neither Mills nor Francona had replaced him in left field.  Francona had to occupy the umpires while Mills got a semi-dressed Manny back onto the field.

Me: The back and forth on this was really interesting since Mills wanted to make sure we knew that a lot of the success the Red Sox had with Manny was Francona managing him so that we could get the most out of his skills.

How do you plan your pitching staff?

Farrell went through how you budget innings by pitcher and then fill the rest based on that.

Does Ellsbury have the green light to run/steal on his own or do your tell him when to steal?

Francona stated that a good base stealer like Ellsbury has to have the green light but that sometimes his running doesn’t fall in line with what they are necessarily trying to do.  Because he is a young player they continue to work with him on that.

In closing, I came away with a better understanding of the complexities of running a team.  Not everyone likes Francona’s player focused style but it would be hard to second guess him now on sticking with Dusting Pedroia when he first started.  Everyone was ready to send him back to the minors but Francona ended up being right about the future MVP.

We look forward to a new season as Red Sox Nation gets ready to embrace a bunch of new players to the team.  We definitely will be more likely to give Coach Terry Francona more of the benefit of the doubt…he was definitely more charismatic in person than in his press conferences.

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