This is the seventh in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Terry Francona took place on January 4, 2006, when Francona was recovering from offseason knee surgery. (Theo Epstein was officially re-hired by the Red Sox on January 19.) Read the book for exclusive details on Francona’s hiring following the Red Sox’s collapse in the 2003 playoffs, his take on the 2005 trade deadline controversy with Manny Ramirez, and his reaction to winning the World Series.
On the departure of Theo Epstein: I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t think Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d say I was nervous or anything, I usually think I tend to believe that things work out for the best and thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s reasons things happened and stuff like that. But not knowing [how the general manager situation would be resolved], I think the word Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d use is unsettling. When thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s change youâ€šÃ„Ã´re always a bit unsettled, but as far as myself Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ve been around this game a long time and I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t have trouble getting along with people, so things usually work out.
On former assistant general manager Josh Byrnes, who was named general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks last fall: Josh was a real stabilizing force in that office. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´s somebody I really looked up to a lot. I say that in past tense. I still do, but he doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t work here. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´s a great guy. Great head in his shoulders, and when he spoke he was guaranteed one person was listening and that was me. Then we lost Peter Woodfork [who followed Byrnes to Arizona], who was also down there, so you know you lose three people: Theo obviously, his name was out there because he ran the show, but it was the whole office that worked together. You lose three of the guys down there. Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s tough. From where I sit, I know theyâ€šÃ„Ã´ve taken some shots for hiring Ben [Cherington] and Jed [Hoyer as co-general managers] and the two-headed whatever-you-call-it, but Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m glad they did because I think thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s a lot of stability. Things are getting done like they always have. Those guys all work together and they still are. Theyâ€šÃ„Ã´re a couple of guys short right now, which Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m sure is making their man-hours a little bit more, but things are getting done like they always do and Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m comfortable with that.
On the attention that comes with working in Boston: I just think its part of what we deal with here. Thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s a lot of passion, thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s a lot of interest. The media, their job, I guess, is to explain to the masses how they view things. How they view things – thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s what it is – itâ€šÃ„Ã´s how they view things, itâ€šÃ„Ã´s not necessarily always correct. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isnâ€šÃ„Ã´t. Sometimes you disagree but thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s how they view it, and thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s their right. And again in a place like Boston where there is a lot of passion and a lot of interest, you can get some interesting articles.
On the 2004 offseason versus the 2005 offseason: Well, it is a more normal winter. Last year wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t normal for anybody. Everybody was making appearances and talking about how good we were and it was a big love-fest. This is a little bit more normal. Last winter was a little more fun. Winning brings that. This has been a unique winter here for us, a lot of things have happened: Theo and Johnny Damon and all kind of things happened. So, like you said, anything that happens here is big news, and when it is big news itâ€šÃ„Ã´s real big news.
On Johnny Damon going to the Yankees: You know what, you know itâ€šÃ„Ã´s a possibility that a guy can leave, because heâ€šÃ„Ã´s a free agent he has that right. Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s hard because I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t think I hid the fact of how much I respected and liked Johnny, but there comes a point when ownershipâ€šÃ„Â¶thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s why I really try to almost stay out of it, because itâ€šÃ„Ã´s not my money. And you start talking about 40, 50, 60 million dollars â€šÃ„Ã¬ holy smokes. Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s up to ownership and front office to make those decisions. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m allowed my opinion but Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ll tell you, when you start talking about those kind of millions of dollars, I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t want to hold ownership or front office hostage by saying things, thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s just not right. The reason these guys have gotten to where they are in life is because they know how to do business. So, you got to sit back and respect that a little bit.
On Keith Foulke: I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t think [his 2005 season] had anything to do with focus. Foulke comes in to spring training and his knee hurts. Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s not focus. He threw a lot of innings in the playoffs [in 2004]. Sometimes guys maybe achieved some things maybe their bodies really shouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t allow them to achieve. And they pay the price. And Foulke was unbelievable. We donâ€šÃ„Ã´t win [the World Series] without him. It was unreal. He didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t get the most valuable player, but it was as valuable a contribution as you could find. He was unbelievable. Our whole bullpen was fantastic. It was incredible. It was awesome. Striking out Tony Clark [to end Game Six of the American League Championship Series in Yankee Stadium]: It was awesome.