01/16/13 3:10 PM ET
Francona discusses friction with owners in book
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
However, in an interview with The Boston Globe, Francona said, in essence, not to judge a book by an excerpt.
Francona told the newspaper he wasn't concerned "with any fallout" from the book.
"If you read the book cover to cover, you'll know why," Francona added. "There were plenty of good things that happened in Boston that we wrote about. There's context. What's in Sports Illustrated isn't the whole story."
The book is titled "Francona: The Red Sox Years" and was co-authored by Francona and Dan Shaughnessy, who is a columnist at the Globe. It will be released next week. When team chairman Werner was asked about the excerpt via email, he responded, "We had unbelievable success together for many years, and now our focus is on 2013." Henry and Lucchino have not yet commented.
According to the excerpt, in June 2010, as Francona tried to hold together a roster that had lost several key players due to injury, he was called upstairs to meet with ownership.
According to the excerpt, owner John Henry, president/CEO Larry Lucchino and Werner all voiced different forms of criticism.
Werner reportedly added, "We need to start winning in more exciting fashion."
Shaughnessy wrote, "That did it. Francona started to get up out of his chair but [general manager Theo] Epstein grabbed his knee. 'A good move by Theo,' Francona said later. 'When Tom started talking about ratings, Theo knew I was getting ready to flare.'"
The 2010 Red Sox, viewed by many as overachievers after winning 89 games despite being ravaged by injuries, missed the postseason, starting a current streak of three straight years the team hasn't played meaningful games in October.
At least according to the excerpts, Francona won't be pulling any punches when it comes to his former bosses.
"Our owners in Boston, they've been owners for 10 years," Francona said in the last paragraph of SI's excerpt. "They come in with all these ideas about baseball, but I don't think they love baseball. I think they like baseball. It's revenue, and I know that's their right and their interest because they're owners -- and they're good owners. But they don't love the game. It's still more of a toy or a hobby for them. It's not their blood. They're going to come in and out of baseball. It's different for me. Baseball is my life."
What is in Sports Illustrated deals largely with a difference in vision between ownership, Epstein and Francona.
Declining ratings on NESN led the Red Sox to do a market study in 2010 to determine why the team was losing popularity. There was a meeting on Nov. 2, 2010, to discuss results of the study. Epstein participated.
"They told us we didn't have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle," Epstein told Shaughnessy in the excerpt. "We need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We'd become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be."
That winter, the Red Sox wound up shelling out big money to trade for Adrian Gonzalez and to sign Carl Crawford. By August 2012, the badly underachieving Red Sox traded both players in a blockbuster to the Dodgers, perhaps an admission that the "sexy players approach" didn't work.
Francona, after spending the 2012 season as an ESPN broadcaster, is now the manager of the Cleveland Indians. Epstein is president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs.
The duo combined to steer the Red Sox to their first two World Series championships since 1918.
After the collapse of 2011, when the Red Sox became the first team in history to blow a nine-game lead in September, it was announced that Francona wouldn't return to the ballclub.
The Sox had two options years they could have exercised on Francona. While it was described as a mutual decision at the time, Francona has a strong belief that ownership had no interest in bringing him back.
The sides met two days after the season ended.
Francona told the owners, "If you don't know what you are doing about me, why am I here? This is a silly meeting. If you don't want me, just tell me."
According to the book, Lucchino countered, "We want you to wait and think about it. Take the weekend. Sleep on it. See how you feel."
Werner is quoted by Shaughnessy in the book as saying the Red Sox had not come to a conclusion about whether to bring back Francona.
Ultimately, Francona took the decision out of their hands by declining Lucchino's invitation to take the weekend to think about it. If the owners weren't sure they wanted him back, Francona was sure he didn't want to come back.
The 368-page book, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will come out Tuesday.