Francona ready for Deadline to pass
Skipper sees more anxiety from players as trade rumors fly
BOSTON -- It will all be over by Friday at 4 p.m. ET. By then, the trade rumor mill will stop its incessant churning, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona suspects his players will be more at ease.
The Red Sox -- who play in a major media market and have an aggressive front office willing to make bold moves -- are always mentioned in the sweepstakes for marquee players.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez represent major players the Red Sox have been linked to during this trade season.
"There's a lot of uncertainty this week. Part of what makes Boston so special -- we seem to be a player in everything," Francona said. "And when I say that -- obviously we're not going after 11 guys. But because of who we are and what has been created here through ownership, we are a player in a lot of things. As soon as someone's name gets out there, Boston is attached to it.
"I mean, we're not the biggest city in the country. But we're a major market in baseball. That's because we have great fans, we have great ownership. We have a lot of money than more teams to spend, so good for us. Now saying that, on the other side, for about one week out of the year, it creates a lot of uncertainty in players. There's really no way to get around it until it's over. This has generally been a tough week for us since I've been here."
Some years, such as 2004 and '08, general manager Theo Epstein has dealt superstars in Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, and acquired key components like Orlando Cabrera and Jason Bay. In other years, the moves have been more subtle, such as additions like Scott Williamson in 2003 or Tony Graffanino in '05.
Always, though, there is huge build-up to the Deadline. Francona can sense it from his team.
"I think some of that has to do with uncertainty," Francona said. "We talk all the time about handling frustration, and how we handle frustration goes so far in defining your season. I always see more frustration -- or more outward frustration -- this week. I see more helmets thrown. And I understand it. And there's no way to tell guys, until this thing is over, because we are players in things sometimes. We've been [players] in the past, and we may be in the future. We just have to get through it."
Third baseman Mike Lowell expressed more of a curiosity than anxiety over what might happen.
"I think most guys, unless their name is specifically involved, kind of read like everyone else," Lowell said. "I think a lot of it is smoke and mirrors. I think people are jockeying for position. Like in the case of Roy Halladay, how much are they really putting out there? They reject this offer or that offer, [to] maybe make teams pony up a lot more. I think there's a lot of backdoor action going on. I think that's kind of exciting to see who's going to try to make a big splash."
Lowell didn't seem to think the Red Sox needed a major shakeup to emerge from the trade season as World Series contenders.
"Besides last year, we've done things here and there to try to improve the team," said Lowell. "Some did, some didn't. I don't think a trade on July 31 is always the answer. I think everyone gets kind of hyped up because it's the Trade Deadline. More [often] than not, it doesn't really pan out as this franchise-changing move. We'll see."
Francona always has faith that Epstein and the front office will make the right decisions, and that allows him to stay focused on his task.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.