BOSTON — Terry Francona will forever be linked to two World Series titles that helped to transform the Red Sox organization. He will also be remembered as the man at the helm of the worst September collapse in baseball history.
However, the 7-20 September that sent the Sox to the offseason in humiliating fashion is not considered Francona's fault. At least not to the man who makes the decision on Francona's future.
"Nobody blames this, what happened in September, on Tito," general manager Theo Epstein said. "That'd be totally irresponsible and totally short-sighted and wouldn't recognize everything that he means to the organization and to all our successes, including at times during 2011."
Francona has two club options on his soon-to-expire contract. The club has 10 days after season's end to exercise the option, making this a prime time for speculation. Francona himself indicated he isn't ready to think about it.
"Theo and I talked today a little bit and I think we'll continue to talk tomorrow," Francona said. "I think it?s best today to stay with where we?re at. It's still pretty fresh and pretty raw. It's a fair question, just we'd rather focus on the other stuff today if that?s OK."
That other stuff involves identifying the issues within the organization, and attempting to fix them.
Early indication is that the process will not necessarily involve analyzing Francona's work down the stretch.
"I don't think we believe in — I know we don't believe in – scapegoats and in particular no one blames Tito for what happened in September," Epstein said.