Terry Francona: “I’m still trying to stop the bleeding”

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Terry Francona was in Ft. Myers to cover a Red Sox game for ESPN.  And yes, the topic of his unceremonious departure from Boston and the subsequent crap anonymous Red Sox front office people shoveled on to him came up.

Francona tells the Boston Herald that, as far as all that goes, he is moving on, but no, he’s not over it. He said that “it’s a little awkward for me,” being around the Sox. And he talked about a recent phone call he had with Sox owner John Henry:

“It was probably five months too late. We talked. It doesn’t matter anymore. That’s what I kind of told him. I said, ‘We should have had this conversation a long time ago because anything you say now doesn’t matter.’ But he was good … I’m not quite ready for the hugs yet. I’m still trying to stop the bleeding … When I left, I thought I would just leave.  What happened after that hurt me a lot. It probably always will … That hurt me a little bit.”

I probably wouldn’t have fired Francona if I ran the Sox, but Henry had the right to if he wanted to, especially given the collapse.  What didn’t have to happen, however, was for people in the organization to throw their most successful manager ever under the bus like they did, so Francona’s feelings are totally understandable.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.