On the surface, there is absolutely no second guessing Francona's move in the 9th. Go with the hot arm. I highly doubt that anyone disagrees. Especially since the results were perfect.
What I like is this goes against what many think is one of his weaknesses as a manager. The "players' manager" rep. has taken a hit. We all know what's been said or at least implied... He caters to the players feelings too much, sometimes at the expense of results.
What we all witnessed last night was a manager in control of his team. He (according to all reports) had already discussed this with Foulke before the game. I believe it.
''This is by no means an indictment of Foulke. I think he's going to be brilliant. This," said Francona. '' is something we had talked about. I would not do something like that without talking to the player. I think Foulke is ready right now to be the guy we need."
OK, this is a players' manager type statement but it still shows that he has complete control and is not afraid to run the team as he sees fit. He also did it right. Even if a player, Foulke in this case, doesn't like the decision he can't possibly have a problem with how it was handled.
Something to think about... What is "the guy they need him to be?" Do they need him to be a guy that puts his pride aside, works hard, doesn't cause any clubhouse negativity even though he has lost his job(temporarily or not)? Do they need him to be another set-up guy? Do they need him to return to his role as a closer? Do they need him to get good enough to justify his salary to another team at the trade deadline? I doubt that one but hey, you never know.
At $7.75 mil, not being used in the role he is being paid for has to be a tough pill to swallow. I would love to know what was going through his mind when the camera showed him looking back at Pap warming up to close. Afterwards, he said all the right things. I hope he means it.
What Francona needs to do is give Foulke the chance to succeed. Since he's not at his best, give him more chances with a couple run cushion. Just look at opening day. That worked out just fine. They still got the win. His performance left us all with questions but at least he wasn't crucified. If he loses even one game then all bets will be off. One of our ugly sides as far as I'm concerned. Although sitting during a critical situation may sting a little, it is a far better situation than throwing him into the fire where things can get confrontational a la the whole "Johnny from Burger King" episode. He is someone this team needs. He's a talented pitcher and he will help the team more and more as his location, pitch selection and effectiveness improves.