Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Another One Bites the Dust

As this season progresses, I've gone back and forth about 15 times as to whether Terry Francona is actually a good manager or not. As it stands, I'm leaning toward 'not'. And the whole "hey wait, Francona was the manager last season when they won the World Series" argument doesn't really hold water since I spent a lot of words last year wondering if Tito was actually impersonating a Bernie during long stretches when I thought it advisable to have Ron Jackson hold a mirror in front of Tito's face to make sure he was breathing. Here's what I wrote during last year's ALCS (when the Sox were down 3-0):
...I'm still convinced that Francona is in way over his head. They should hire one of the clubhouse attendants to periodically check his pulse just to make sure he's still breathing. If they ever decide to remake "Weekend at Bernies" (or better yet, come out with "Weekend at Bernies 3"), Francona gets my vote for the role of Bernie. The only difference, as far as I can tell, between Francona and Grady Little is about 12 months and a head full of hair. Otherwise, I don't see much difference in terms of game management.
Anyway, the last ten games or so (not including the All-Star game, of course) has renewed my faith in Francona's inability to actually make adjustments based on experience. Millar still starts regularly -- and when he's not at first base, he actually sees time in the outfield, Embree finds himself on the mound four or five times a week, usually just in time to give up a big hit, four-pitch walk, or if you were fortunate enough to watch Saturday's game, a balk. (A balk? Honestly, how the hell to you balk by forgetting to throw the ball to first base ... with the first baseman actually looking right at you expecting a throw? Anyone? Luckily the balk only lead to more runs for the Yankees. Just like they drew it up.) And as everyone knows by now, my #1 pet peeve -- the Sox giving up ground ball doubles down the line while refusing to actually, ahem, guard the line -- is seemingly in full effect.

At some point you figure that Tito might accidentally make the right decision. Nope. Not yet. And I haven't even mentioned DHing Mirabelli for Ortiz (during the Blue Jays series before the break) and batting him third. And no, that's not a misprint. Third. (And by the way, just because Ted Lilly owns Ortiz, that doesn't mean you pick a name out of a hat and bat him third.) Or watching Mirabelli the DH strike out four times in four at-bats. (Golden Sombrero alert)

And then there's Bellhorn. To say he's struggling a bit is like saying that A-Rod's lips are kinda purple. I mean things are so bad for Bellhorn that he gets hurt while diving for a ball in the outfield grass, has to come out, and then has to deal with this bit of bad news from my buddy Desmond (who until yesterday was the last living member of "the club":
I'd like the readers of this blog, as well as the author himself, to know that I have officially resigned as President of the Mark Bellhorn fan club. This morning I finally dropped him from my fantasy team, and hope that not having him on my roster will propel me out of 13th place. I apologize to everybody who had to listen to my often incoherent ramblings about his 'big-game' heroics, and only hope that Joey Cora can continue to come up big like he did last night. Can anybody say Ray Durham?
In all honesty, I'm surprised he made it this long (Des, not Bellhorn). I decided a couple of months ago to quit bashing Bellhorn and just pray that he continues to make plays defensively. Well, in one sense he didn't disappoint. He's played solid defense. But he also has one hit in his last 150 at-bats (or at least it certainly seems that way -- how funny is it that the hit was a bomb off Randy Johnson?). And I'd never go so far as to draft him in the first round of my fantasy draft, but whenever Desmond had to defend Bellhorn -- which it turns out, is a lot more often than anyone should have to who's not getting paid for it -- he always pointed back to the ALCS when he had arguably the two biggest hits of his life. But after a steady diet of .210 and multiple strikeout games, it looks like Bellhorn's on his own at the fan club meetings. Of course, if Tito's craptacular managerial skills continue to show themselves as they have the last two weeks, no one will have the energy to bash Bellhorn because they'll be too busy with Francona. Remember, it's all about silver linings.