A chance to sit back a bit and reflect, digest, self-evaluate, all of the things managers do when the season ends. It's been no different for Terry Francona, with the possible exception that he has moved to Chestnut Hill from suburban Philadelphia. Now, instead of conducting some of his business with the Red Sox via conference call, he spends a few hours every day at his ballpark office, making calls, rummaging through mail, and last week trying to put together his coaching staff for 2006.
''I'm OK with it," said Francona of becoming a year-round manager, taking a page from Eric Wedge, who decided two years ago he was going to live year-round in Cleveland. ''I need to make a commitment to who I work for and make a commitment to my family, who have moved here. This is our home."
It hurts to lose. It hurts to get swept by the team, the White Sox, that went on to win it all, like Francona in 2004. Francona understands what Ozzie Guillen is feeling in Chicago -- the same type of euphoria he felt in New England when he helped end an 86-year drought.
''I can't say I watched all nine innings of every game [of the World Series]," said Francona, ''because I'm trying to make up for lost time with my wife and kids and trying to get the coaching staff straightened out, but I watched it.
''I don't miss being in the limelight because I would never miss that. What I miss is being the best. That's the feeling you get when you win the World Series, and that's what I'm missing."
Francona probably has beaten himself up over some things and patted himself on the back for others. The bottom line is that he isn't going to apologize for not winning it again. In fact, he said, ''I was proud of our team. We won 95 games and it was tough to win 95 games. We hung in there.
''Of course we wanted to go farther in the playoffs. Of course we wanted to win it again. But in the playoffs we got exposed. And that's not easy to take or fun. When your season ends by getting swept, it's hard to feel good."
It was hard to win 95 games. There were many brush fires, some of which got out of control. Francona did not have the Curt Schilling or the Keith Foulke of 2004. There was a lot of mixing and matching and praying for rain. There was a lot put on the shoulders of youngster Jonathan Papelbon, while veteran Matt Clement wasn't his best perhaps because of a troubled knee.
Francona took a few moments to look ahead on a few issues:
His health. ''Just went to the doctors for a complete checkup and everything is great," he said. Francona overcame a virus early in the season that he called a ''fake heart attack." It obviously took a lot out of him. He said he's working out more, ''trying to be as strong as I can by the time we get to spring training. To do the job right you need a lot of energy. This is the way this job is going to be, and I'm going to be ready for it."Coaches. Francona said he has a high comfort level with Bill Haselman moving from the bullpen to first base. And with Dale Sveum moving to Milwaukee, Francona believes former Sox minor league manager DeMarlo Hale will be a solid choice for third base. He said there are seven candidates for the bullpen job, three of whom are in the Red Sox organization.Johnny Damon. Francona said he has talked to Damon twice since the season ended and is crossing his fingers that the Sox will be able to retain the popular center fielder. ''He's a pretty special guy," said Francona. ''If Johnny isn't here, we're going to look different." Damon will not require surgery on his left shoulder, as had been speculated.Manny Ramirez. ''I would be surprised if Manny wasn't playing left field for me next season," said Francona (though that was before Manny's latest trade request).Keith Foulke. Their last couple of conversations were positive and made Francona feel optimistic about a return. Asked whether Foulke would automatically be the closer, Francona said, ''Since I've never referred to him as a closer, that would be tough to answer." He said Foulke has worked out some personal issues and appears to have his mind set on coming back strong. Still, industry sources indicate that the Sox will have a lot of interest in free agent lefthander B.J. Ryan.
Hahn was one of the brains of the operation
Remember the name Rick Hahn.
As much as Josh Byrnes, the new general manager in Arizona, benefited from working under Theo Epstein and winning a championship in Boston, Hahn, 34, has done the same for White Sox general manager Kenny Williams. While he aspires to be a GM, Hahn, a Chicagoland native, was still riding high en route to the championship parade Friday morning.
''I'm from here, so to be a part of winning a championship is very moving for me," said Hahn. ''It's been a great five years working under Kenny. We have such an open management style here that we have a constant flow of ideas on how things should be done. It's been a great five years."
Hahn has quite the education pedigree: the University of Michigan, Harvard Law School, and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern. He spent two years as an agent for the now-defunct Steinberg Moorad and Dunn agency.
''He was one of the brightest young lawyers I've ever worked with," said Jeff Moorad, who is now the Diamondbacks CEO. ''He has a terrific ability to analyze a problem and creatively work through it. The combination of legal skills and business sense is extraordinary. If he chooses to do it, he will make a very effective GM one day."
Hahn's biggest job in the next couple of weeks will be to get Paul Konerko re-signed.
''There's no doubt we want Paulie back," Hahn said. ''We're going to make him a very competitive offer, I know that. We certainly understand his importance to our lineup."
Hahn has fond memories of Boston, where he went to games when he was a law student at Harvard.
''I had a blast there," Hahn said. ''We went to a lot of games and soaked in the Fenway experience. I met my wife at Harvard, made a lot of great friends there.
''I always wanted to get into baseball, and remember reading a Peter Gammons column in Baseball America about these young guns like Paul DePodesta and Josh Byrnes and how they studied sports management in school, and I started to wonder if I was taking the right path going to law school. But I don't regret it. At some point if the situation is right, I'd like to run a team."
Tricks of the trade in play with Wells
If it's up to Theo Epstein in Boston and Kevin Towers in San Diego, David Wells will get his wish to play in Southern California. According to a San Diego source, the Padres have missed Wells's leadership, and they appear willing to package something for the 42-year-old lefthander that would satisfy the Sox.
The Padres may part with righthanded starter Brian Lawrence or set-up man Akinori Otsuka or both, but not starter Adam Eaton, who would be more coveted by the Sox.
Lawrence, who will earn $3.5 million next season, had a poor 2005 season -- 7-15, with a 4.83 ERA -- but he has made 31-34 starts each of the last four seasons. Otsuka, who has a $1.75 million option for '06, was 2-8 with a 3.59 ERA and blew six of his seven save opportunities, but he's been a workhorse with 139 appearances the last two seasons.
Here's the rub: Towers has lost power in San Diego because Sandy Alderson is running the show. Towers ran the Padres on his own after Larry Lucchino left for Boston.
Alderson is managing the team's $70 million payroll, and while Wells's contract is incentive-based, he reached $9 million with incentives this year. Too rich for the Padres? We'll see.
If the Sox don't trade Wells, he's likely to retire. He was arguably their best starter last season with 15 wins, but they will save the $9 million or so for 2006 and devote it to another area. But there aren't many 15-game winners in a poor free agent market.
There was no chance the Red Sox were going to go through another season crossing their fingers and hoping that a key pitcher's knee wouldn't become a factor, as it did with Keith Foulke
. So Matt Clement
had arthroscopic surgery performed by Pittsburgh Penguins team doctor Chip Burke
last week to clean up some cartilage. He will only need about a four-week rehab. ''It's all done," said manager Terry Francona
. ''He had it already. He went through three doctors for opinions. He should be ready to go."
Can we say without hesitation that, love him or hate him, Jerry Reinsdorf
is the most successful owner in sports? Six world titles for the Chicago Bulls and now a World Series win for the Chicago White Sox, their first in 88 years. Reinsdorf did it so differently in baseball than in basketball. In basketball, he had Michael Jordan
, perhaps the greatest player ever. With the White Sox, he had a collection of role players, an outstanding pitching staff, and a charismatic manager who had an aggressive, never-say-die style. Just love these quotes from Ozzie Guillen
when he was asked why the 2004 White Sox he took over didn't do the little things to win. ''Last year I couldn't bunt, couldn't get guys to move players along," he said. ''A lot of guys wouldn't hit where I wanted them to. They wanted RBIs. We had good players but we didn't have a good team
. Big difference. Look, you see Carl Everett
bunt and Paul Konerko
try to hit the ball to right field -- that's a team." Why couldn't he get the players to do that in '04? ''Because their coaches and managers in the past let them do whatever they wanted to do. They didn't have enough guts to tell them this is a team, you're not supposed to play for yourself."
Can there be at least a three-year moratorium, please, on media people feeling sorry for Brian Cashman
because of interference or the overbearing nature of George Steinbrenner
? Cashman would have been out from under the Boss's thumb had he pursued the general manager's job in Philadelphia. Of course, the company line is that Steinbrenner is slowly but surely weaning himself from everyday control of the Yankees and handing the reins to his son-in-law, Steve Swindal
. Cashman also got a great deal, for an average of $2 million per year, which means he's willing to take the heat for the money.
Is Larry Bowa
, hired as third base coach, going to take on the role of ''bad cop" in the Yankee clubhouse? Said one baseball official, ''Joe Torre
is an easygoing guy. He has his moments, but I think they want someone in there who will bring an edge and carry out some of the dirty work. Bowa has no problem being that."
After the Red Sox hired DeMarlo Hale
as their third base coach from the Rangers, Texas promoted Bobby Jones
, their Triple A manager at Oklahoma, to coach third. Jones is a pretty tough guy. He did two tours in Vietnam with a mortar platoon and lost more than half of his hearing.
Those who have interviewed in Tampa Bay for the general manager's job have come away feeling less than impressed about the job description. ''Basically," said one candidate, ''it's going to be an out-front guy to deal with the media and the public, and part of it is basically teaching the new owners how the baseball operation should be done. If you desperately need a job, go for it, but a lot of very qualified candidates are going to be pulling themselves out of the picture."
Attention, Orlando Cabrera
: One of the kids tearing up the Arizona Fall League is Angels shortstop Brandon Wood
, a late first-round pick in 2003 out of Scottsdale. Wood, who is 6 feet 3 inches, 185 pounds, hit .321 with 43 homers and knocked in 115 runs for Rancho Cucamonga in the Single A California League this year, earning a promotion to Triple A for the final four games of the season. Wood has hit 11 homers in his first 18 Fall League games for the Surprise Scorpions and is one homer away from the league record of 12 by Tagg Bozied
With former Red Sox assistant GM Josh Byrnes
becoming the new Arizona GM, does that impede or improve the Sox' chances of trading for Troy Glaus
? The Diamondbacks were of the mind to shop Glaus, according to one major league source, but Byrnes might have a different opinion.
Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.