Earlier Friday, it was confirmed that Terry Francona will not return as Boston Red Sox manager in 2012. This was notable, given that Francona had been around since 2004 with great success. But with the Red Sox just suffering one of the more shocking collapses in memory, Francona won't be back in 2012.
The only big remaining question was whose decision this was. And it turns out that the decision was mutual. In a statement from the organization:
Tito said that after eight years here he was frustrated by his difficulty making an impact with the players, that a different voice was needed, and that it was time for him to move on. After taking time to reflect on Tito's sentiments, we agreed that it was best for the Red Sox not to exercise the option years on his contract.
This, of course, was part of a carefully prepared press release, but Francona did a lot of good in his time as Boston's manager, and the Red Sox most certainly appreciate it. Sometimes a manager just loses his effectiveness after a while, though, and a new voice is needed to shake things up. Eight years is a long time to manage one team. Some managers have lasted more time, but the overwhelming majority have lasted much much less.
Added Theo Epstein in a press conference:
Nobody at the Red Sox blames Tito for what happened at the end of this season; we own that as an organization. This year was certainly a difficult and draining one for him and for us. Ultimately, he decided that there were certain things that needed to be done that he couldn't do after eight years here, and that this team would benefit from hearing a new voice.
Francona did note in the same conference that he was unsure whether he still had the support of Red Sox ownership. That undoubtedly played a part in his thought process. A bigger part, however, was played by the sense that he'd simply done all that he could.