John Henry: Theo won’t be the Red Sox GM forever

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As I’ve mentioned a couple of times this morning, Red Sox owner John Henry and team CEO Lary Lucchino sat down for an interview on WEEI this morning and offered up all manner of postmortem on the Red Sox’ 2011 season and some glimpses into the future as well.  Here is audio of the entire interview.  Among the highlights:

  • When asked about Theo Epstein’s future, Henry said “I think there’s a certain shelf life in these jobs,” and would not say whether or not he’s granted the Cubs’ request to speak to Epstein.  Lucchino said “this is one subject we don’t believe needs full disclosure.” Overall they provided no clarity on whether Epstein returns.  Still, the idea that Epstein could go to the Cubs seemed crazy a few weeks ago. Seems way less crazy now.
  • Henry said the decision for Terry Francona to leave wasn’t a mutual one, but that’s because they didn’t get the chance to make it mutual.  Francona wanted out and told team brass that before there was a chance to consider it.  Henry added, however, that it was very likely that they would have reached the same conclusion and that Francona would have been gone anyway.
  • Lucchino said the team is “knee deep” in the process of hiring a replacement for Francona.
  • Lucchino was asked about the drinking in the clubhouse stuff and said that the front office disapproved of that.  That said “we’re still trying to dig in to find out how pervasive it was, how extensive it was, and not try to superficially conclude it was a major factor in anything.”

Nothing really shocking here.  Francona was going to go anyway, it seemed. Theo could easily go.  No one is overreacting to the late-season collapse or the media hype about fat, drunk ballplayers and clubhouse chaos.  Just sounds like any team picking up the pieces of what for them was a failed season and trying to move forward.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.