In an interview Monday on the Sports Hub's Felger & Massarotti show (available here), former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling let out a stream of critical comments aimed at Red Sox ownership due to the disreputable way he feels they've treated general manager Theo Epstein and former manager Terry Francona. Though Schilling said Francona did all he could to get Boston out of its September tailspin, he was outspoken in putting the blame on several of the team's players, namely pitchers Josh Beckett and John Lackey.
"These players quit," Schilling said. "They quit on each other, they quit on the manager, they quit on the organization and they quit on the fans. That much is clear."
Schilling was similarly displeased with Red Sox owner John Henry and was anything but subtle in denouncing Henry's claims that he was in no way responsible for leaking details of Francona's personal life to the press.
"I think he's full of (expletive deleted); disingenuous at best," Schilling said. "I think there's been a lot of that. When Terry (Francona) comes out very candidly, ‘I didn't think the ownership of this team had my back,' that is a much more powerful statement than the words being used."
Schilling went on to reiterate his earlier assessment that Boston's owners are "bad people," and mused that future free agents would be disinclined to come to the Red Sox after seeing the way Henry publicly stated that he had not wanted to sign left fielder Carl Crawford this past offseason.
"You've got the ultimate in poison in the water. There's not a player in uniform that would trust anyone in that organization," Schilling said. "When things like this information on Tito... when that starts coming from a ‘source' that's people with an agenda and power."
Schilling did defend Francona and praised his former manager's decision to take the blame for the team's historic collapse. He also backed up Francona's claim that the skipper used the same approach that had netted the team two World Series titles, but that those management techniques simply didn't get through to this year's team.
As for the team's current players, Schilling felt the team struggled down the stretch because it did not have a vocal leader like himself or former Red Sox teammates Mike Lowell, Doug Mirabelli and Gabe Kapler. Though Jason Varitek is the team's captain, Schilling said that he was a player who led more by example than with fire and brimstone.
"Jason was never that guy that stood up in the clubhouse and held team meetings," Schilling said. "I always looked at Jason a lot like I looked at Cal Ripken from a captain's perspective. Cal was a captain. He didn't have team meetings. He expected you to play the way he played, prepare the way he prepared and respect the game the way he did that."
The former pitcher added that his former teammate shouldn't have to be the one to call team meetings and get in players faces, but rather that those players should motivate themselves.
"We're not talking about high school, recess or playground," Schilling said. "These are grown men. You're making 10, 15 million dollars a year. You're job is to win games. If you're doing something to jeopardize that, you better have a Mike Lowell, you better have a Doug Mirabelli, you better have a Gabe Kapler that can fix it, and if you don't you'd better fix it yourself."
Schilling also defended Jon Lester, and said the pitcher's miserable September slump was the result of poor physical performance rather than a lack of focus. He was not as kind, however, to Beckett and Lackey.
"I don't know where he's at mentally," Schilling said of Beckett, adding he was shocked to hear him say there was more to life than baseball this past September. "I don't know what he wants. Hopefully he's got enough pride, and I think he does, to want to make this all better and I think he's going to have to go a long way to do that."
"Obviously I'm disappointed that Josh's name is in there. I'm not surprised in the other guy. I've heard nothing to lead me to believe any differently."
Be sure to visit our Red Sox blog, Over the Monster, throughout the offseason as the Red Sox try to turn things around this winter.