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While We’re Waiting… Talkin’ Terry Francona

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“You have to wonder if there really was a decision to be made. Chris Antonetti fired Manny Acta on September 27th, and his first order of business was to call Francona to see if he was interested in the position. With Antonetti in the crosshairs, he needed to make a splash. While Sandy Alomar Jr. would be good PR, Terry Francona would start the silly season with a splash, and give the Indians a certain sort of credibility that they haven’t had.

The Indians really couldn’t go wrong as both really were worthy of the job, but the two candidates offered two different outlooks for the organization.  If the Indians hired Alomar, he would have probably been more of a long term selection as he would have been more receptive and patient to a potential rebuild down the road.  In hiring Francona, the Indians seem to be looking at a short term selection to infuse some excitement into the organization and build some momentum toward a successful offseason and get back on track in 2013 and 2014.

The feeling I had from the start was that Francona was going to be the guy, as he made it fairly clear that he is open to a plan that would involve star players being dealt for prospects down the road. I see no way the Indians could pass on him as the next manager of the Indians. At the end of the day, he is more qualified than Alomar due to his experience and recent success, and there still is a chance that Alomar could be retained as a bench coach and have something worked into his contract where he is the eventual successor to Francona down the road. I could see a scenario in which Francona moves up into the front office in the near future, and Alomar taking over the manager’s role in his place.” [Tony Lastoria/Indians Prospect Insider]

“I don’t think the Indians are by hiring Francona committing to a spending binge, at least not one that would resonate on the national level. If anything, I could see them trading Choo or Chris Perez for young players that Francona can help mold. That’s probably one reason why the Indians gave Francona a four-year contract to manage this club; there isn’t going to be any quick fixes for what ails this organization. It’s going to take two or three more years of good drafting and international signings to completely restock what Brad Grant has started to do, and about the same amount of time for the organization’s current top prospects to make it to the majors. Because the farm system is going to have to be the major source of talent for the organization, they needed to assure Francona that he’d still be around when Francisco Lindor, Dorssys Paulino, or Dillon Howard make their major-league debuts.” [Let’s Go Tribe]

“What’s happening in Cleveland is a testament, first and foremost, to the value of strong relationships.

Baseball, like any other business, is built on them. And for Terry Francona, the relationship with the men who make the Indians’ personnel decisions began on a hotel treadmill at the Winter Meetings many years ago and a couple managerial stops ago.

Francona and Mark Shapiro got to talking in the workout room, and their conversations have evolved steadily over the years. On Friday, the conversation was about the Indians’ managerial vacancy, and on Saturday, the announcement was that Francona had accepted it.

For the Indians, this is quite a managerial coup. They’ve averaged less than $60 million in player payroll over the last three years, they’re coming off a 94-loss season and their upper-level Minor League talent is, shall we say, suspect.

Add up those factors, and this ordinarily would not be the type of job a Terry Francona — a two-time World Series winner with a resplendent reputation — would touch.

But the relationship has remained steady and sturdy, even as many changes have taken place in Francona’s life and the Indians’ various ups and downs. When the Phillies fired Francona in 2000, Shapiro, the Tribe’s newly appointed general manager, scooped him up in a special assistant role. When Francona interviewed for the Red Sox job, Shapiro and his then-assistant, Chris Antonetti, helped prep him.” [Anthony Castrovince/Indians.com]

“The Indians, who are coming off a 68-94 season, were also considering Sandy Alomar Jr. for the managerial role. Alomar was named the Tribe’s interim manager after Manny Acta was relieved of his duties on Sept. 27, and the former All-Star catcher interviewed for the full-time job on Thursday.

Alomar has worked as a coach for the Indians for the past three seasons and boasts a successful 20-year playing career, but he has no previous managing experience beyond his six-game audition following Acta’s dismissal. Cleveland went 3-3 in Alomar’s brief stint at the helm.

When reached by MLB.com on Saturday, Alomar declined comment out of respect for Francona.

“This is not about me,” Alomar said.

Alomar has been offered a place on Francona’s coaching staff — possibly as his bench coach — but it remains to be seen if he will accept the role or look for a job elsewhere.” [Jordan Bastian/Indians.com]

“And with the Tribe making a major investment in Francona, they must take his opinions very seriously — even if there is a stark contrast with their own.

While Francona was known as a guy who could handle veterans with major egos, he also is credited with helping young players such as Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester become successful major-leaguers.

That has been a recent issue with the Tribe. Prospects have strong performances in Class AAA, but then flounder with the Tribe.

Francona is a manager, not miracle worker. Before his Boston success, he had records of 68-94, 75-87, 77-84 and 65-97 in Philadelphia from 1997 to 2000.

So Francona knows it takes more than him being in the dugout to win.

But his hiring at least shows the Tribe is starting to think about doing business differently — and spending some money, too.

And that is finally at least a sliver light in what was depressingly dark baseball season.” [Terry Pluto/Cleveland.com]

“”What you’re getting in ‘Tito’ is a great manager, plain and simple,” Schilling said by phone late Saturday night from his home in Massachusetts. “The Indians just landed a guy who won two World Series within the past 10 years. Think about that.”

Schilling’s 20-year career in the majors began in 1988 with Baltimore. He also pitched with Francona’s Phillies from 1997 through mid-2000, going 53-37.

“You’re getting probably the best communicator I ever played for,” Schilling said. “He and John Farrell are the two best communicators I’ve ever been around in the game, hands down.”

Farrell, current manager of the Blue Jays, was the Red Sox’s pitching coach from 2006 through 2010.

“Tito says the same thing every spring, when you’re sitting there the first day of camp,” Schilling said. “He says, ‘You’ll never play for someone who cares more about you than I do.’ It’s not a line; he means it. If you can’t play for Terry Francona, you can’t play for anybody. Period.”

Schilling said Francona’s ability to multitask, and do so seamlessly, sets him apart.” [Dennis Manoloff/Cleveland.com]

“The Indians’ move to hire Terry Francona looks like a coup. Getting a two-time World Series-winning manager to come to Cleveland and take over a team that hasn’t finished over .500 in five years makes for quite the turn of events.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see if it does any good. Francona was a great handler of personalities in Boston and kept a roster loaded with big salaries and big egos pointed in the right direction for the vast majority of his tenure.

This will be an entirely different kind of gig for Francona. He won’t have to worry about handling a Manny Ramirez or a Josh Beckett or a David Ortiz. Of course, he also won’t have any of those kind of talents to rely on.

Here’s a truth about the Indians: even as salaries have continued to increase throughout the game, their franchise-high payroll came back in 2001. They spent $93 million that year. The last three years, they’ve come in at $61 million, $49 million and $65 million.” [Matthew Pouliot/Hardball Talk]

  • The final paragraph of that final entry speaks volumes.

  • Yep, the ownership needs to go. Or, they need to open up their checkbook once in a while.