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Francona on D&H, 10/28

10.28.09 at 12:23 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona appeared on the Dale & Holley show yesterday and talked about losing bench coach and longtime friend Brad Mills to the Astros. He also touched on the World Series and the Phillies‘ keys to keeping the Yankees in check.

The transcript follows. To hear the interview, check out the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

What are you going to do without your best friend. He is your best friend, isn’t he?

He’s one of my best friends I’ve ever had in the whole world. I’ve known him since 1977 ‘€” that’s  college, professional, we’ve been through a lot together. And there’s a reason we stayed that close. You go through this game and if you don’t think alike on a lot of things, you’re friendship ends up taking a pounding for it. We’ve endured a lot of things together. He’s one of my true special friends in the whole world.

I think sometimes fans don’t understand what bench coach means. They know what a pitching coach is, they know what a hitting coach is. And I don’t think fans have a real grasp of how important Brad Mills was to what you guys were doing there.

Yeah, and every organization is probably a little bit different. nd again now that Millsy is gone, maybe the bench coach here may have a little bit different assignments or responsibilities. The one thing with Millsy is we knew each other so well that I knew if I left the room or I got called away to do something, especially in spring training, whatever was supposed to get done got done. Millsy had a lot of responsibility here, and he earned that. And it was great. It was good for him, it was tremendous for me. But again, you can’t just have that happen overnight.

It’s interesting that the general manager in Houston now was the general manager in Philadelphia when you guys were there. Do you think that worked to his advantage?

I think it got him an interview. I think Millsy had to kind of take it and go from there, which is good. Ed Wade’s a good guy. We’ve been through a lot together. Shoot, he had to fire me, and that’s not easy for him and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun for me. But we’re still really good friends. And I think a lot of Eddie. He’s a solid, solid guy. Cares about people. I think he and Millsy are a very good match together.

What kind of manager do you think he’ll be?

You know, I don’t know. I know one thing, he’s cheap. He’s not going to pay for any cabs for his coaches. You’re going to have start working on that. [Laughter] You know what, this will be interesting, because he’s always kind of had to formulate his feelings around how I felt. I mean, that’s what a bench coach does. You give your opinion, but the decisions come down to me. Now, he’ll be making those decisions. The game won’t be going too fast for him. He’s been doing this his whole life. He’s got a great feel for baseball. He’s a very good person. He’s got a combination of a lot of good things that should help make him successful.

What’s that old line? He’s about find out the difference between making a suggestion and a decision?

He’s so conscientous. I can’t wait until about next June when he calls me at about 4 in the morning because he’s not sleeping. Then I can laugh at him.

I wasn’t surprised that you did it [but] I was surprised that Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane spoke so glowingly of a phone call you made to Drayton McLane to give your endorsement for Brad Mills. He was pretty open about how important that was to him.

Well, he actually called me and I was really impressed. So many times in this game people make calls to maybe cover their backside or just to say they did it. He came armed with questions ‘€” and good questions. And I actually really enjoyed it. We had a fun conversation. In fact, toward the end of the conversation we both kind of commented that we were ready for spring training. He’s a really likable guy, got a lot of personality. And again, you’re talking about Brad Mills, one of my favorite people in the the world, so, yeah, I told him how I felt. And I hope it did help. That was the whole idea.

You told me before that you and Mills were so close that at times during a game either you wouldn’t have to say anything, you knew what he was thinking, or he would try to talk to you, and you could say things to him that maybe if you said them to somebody else they would take it the wrong way.

Yeah, and that’s just the good fortune of knowing somebody for 30 years. The coaches all laugh, ’cause Millsy takes the brunt of a lot from me. I can do that because we’ve known each other. And he’ll give me a look every so often like, “OK, enough’s enough. Back off.” And I’ll leave the room and retreat to my office, because he is bigger and stronger, and I need to watch myself sometimes. The guys get a kick out of it. But we also have a relationship where he can say something right in the middle of a game, and I can say, “Shut up, Millsy.” Or he can tell me, “What are you doing? That doesn’t make any sense.” We have that special relationship. That’s something that just doesn’t happen overnight. And I appreciated it. It was good, it was healthy, it was good. When you talk about loyalty, loyalty isn’t just somebody who tells you you’re good. It’s somebody that has the caring of you and your organization to tell you sometmes he thinks you’re wrong.

What do you think of the transition now that you’re dealing with in the organization ‘€” in baseball operations, I mean. You lost Brad Mills to Houston, Jed Hoyer goes on to San Diego to be the general manager. Does that affect you at all? Those two losses, what does that do for you?

I think inevitably these types of things happen when you have good people. Theo’s got a lot of guys in his office ‘€” this isn’t going to be the only guy who turns into a general manager. Ben Cherington is going to be next. And Mike Hazen. There’s guys that are good. Brian O’Halloran ‘€” you could name a pretty good list down there. That’s inevitable. Losing Millsy, sure it puts a dent in what we do, but I think you kind of hope you lose people. They’re your friends, and they get respect from the industry, and then they get asked to move on. I think our happiness for them far outweighs our concern about gfilling their spots.

I understand there’s nobody within your organization that you’ve had a 30-year relationship with. Do you think there’s somebody within your organization you can approach the relationship you just described to us with Brad Mills … have you got somebody you can do that with?

I hope so. A couple of points: One, you don’t take 30 years and cram it into six months. That’s just not realistic/ We’ve got a lot of good coaches here. Not just at the major league level, but in our player development system. And so, in the next couple of days Theo and I, we need to sit down. And we’ve already talked a little bit last night, but we’ll talk a little bit more today and tomorrow. One of the important things to think about is staying in the organization. I have some friends, some people that I think are really good baseball people that aren’t in the organization. OK, is that the best move? I don’t know. Theo and I need to sit down and talk about that. There are some really good people in organization, and I’ve been here long enough now where sometimes you need to stay in the organization and promote. It’s healthy. And again, we’re hiring good people, so sometimes they need to be recommended for these jobs also.

Is it possible or likely you’re going to have to find somebody else as well? Is somebody going to go with Mills to Houston?

I think Millsy is in the process today of trying to get some thoughts together on his staff. I think it’s a possibility but I don’t think it’s a probability.

Last time we talked to you, you said you had no interest in the [American League] Championship Series. Did you watch any of it?

Not much, not much. … I certainly knew what was going on. Maybe it sounds silly [but] this was a tough ending of the year for a lot of us, and I just wasn’t that into it. A lot of, I don’t know if jealously is the right word or envious, but I just didn’t like watching other teams play. I wanted it to be us. I really didn’t enjoy sitting down and jsut watching them play baseball.

So, I know you’re not interested, but I’ve got to ask you this: Who do you think’s going to win?

I’ve been wrong so far, because I thought it was going to be us. You look at [CC] Sabathia and Cliff Lee, and they’re going to have a huge say-so in the outcome of this series, because potentially they could to pitch three times. I think it’s going to be hugely important for whoever starts for Philadelphia to get deep enough into a game because if you don’t ‘€” I think what people don’t realize is you can’t match up against New York’s lineup. You better have a good bullpen. And we had as good a bullpen as anybody, but you can’t match up. They have switch-hitters, they have lefties that are productive against lefties. You’ve got to get somebody out there that’s productive and keep them out there because you can’t just bring in lefty-righty-lefty. It doesn’t work against New York.

What’s the harder part — you and Brad Mills separating or your families separating?

My one daughter … she sent Millsy a note yesterday right after his press conference and said, “You ruined my dad’s life.” It wasn’t, “Congratulations” … [laughing]. We’ve been close for a long time. Millsy and Ronda and their kids, they’re the nicest family in the world. Everybody that’s come in touch with them knows that. Millsy embodies a lot of what’s right in baseball. So, for him to get this opportunity, it’s pretty neat.

Read More: Brad Mills, Red Sox, Terry Francona,
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