If rumors are to be believed, it sounds as if the Indians will name Terry Francona as their next manager – possibly as soon as Monday.  During the postseason, all announcements of this type must be approved by the commissioner’s office (they don’t want to draw attention from the playoffs).  At this point, it may just be a matter of them clearing a time to make this official.  For me, this explains why Acta was let go with just a few days left in the season.  They were probably targeting Francona, and didn’t want to make formal overtures while Acta was still employed.  While some thought that Alomar deserved a longer look than just six days, if the Indians were always going to go for Francona, there was no point to letting Alomar manage if they were unlikely to offer him the job.

Francona was on Baseball Tonight last night, which made for a pretty busy day.  (Interview in Cleveland during the day, on TV at night).  He seemed somewhat coy when questioned about his interview, and basically said that it’s Cleveland or back to ESPN as an analyst.  The way he talked, I got the impression that the ball was in the court of the Indians’ front office at this point.

The next thing we’ll need to watch is who will be on a potential Francona staff.  There is speculation that he would want to bring Brad Mills to Cleveland – he served as his bench coach in Boston and was recently fired from the Houston Astros.  I’d think there would also be a place for Alomar if he wanted to stay.  Mike Sarbaugh, who won back-to-back national titles with the Columbus Clippers, is also a potential hire for a new staff.

I mentioned before that this was really a win-win situation for the Indians.  Your two choices are Terry Francona and Sandy Alomar – two excellent, intelligent candidates.  Unless Francona can perform miracles, there may not be much he can do in 2013.  I guess you never know; Oakland was picked to lose 100 games this year, and Baltimore lost 90+ last year.

UPDATES:

I plan to add updates as they become available.  The most recent one is that there are rumors they’re discussing a four-year deal.  I’m kind of surprised they’re offering such a long deal, but we’ll see if it’s true.  I also have some thoughts from a Philly fan and a Boston fan to add to this, to get a different perspective.  I hope to have them up here shortly.

Updates – #2

- Jordan Bastian has confirmed that Francona will be the next manager.  They’re currently working on the details of the deal.

Updates – #3

- Andy Baskin is reporting that Sandy Alomar has been offered a spot on Francona’s staff if he wants it.

I said that I would provide a couple of views on Francona from friends of mine.  One is a Philly fan who offers his perspective, the other a Red Sox fan.

Philly fan perspectiveLes Engels (Writes about the Phillies at The HighPhive).  Francona managed the Phillies from 1997-2000.

The biggest criticism when it came to Francona was that he was too lax. He is a players manager and it seemed he couldn’t motivate the swarm of quad A players, a few random egos, and a couple of vets that the Phillies fielded during his tenure. My opinion on him is he is A LOT like Charlie Manuel. He can keep a group of established above average players in check and maintain an even keel through a season but he isn’t a guy that can light a fire and get players above potential. Strategically he is for sure suited for the AL because he doesn’t know how to manage a bullpen or play small ball for the life of him. That being said, I actually liked him when he was here personality wise. He was a media manager for sure and always gave good pressers. But I don’t think he is the guy for a young team.

The other thing to remember is Francona was only 38 when he started as manager for the Phillies. The other finalists were Hal McRae and Larry Bowa. Bowa went on to be the next manager and was complete polar opposite of Tito’s style. A good idea of how he dealt with players, is Scott Rolen. Mild mannered Rolen loved Francona and had a great relationship with him. Rolen couldn’t get away from Philly fast enough when Bowa took the helm. 

You need to remember the late 90s were the pivotal years that built the last few years of the Phillies. It was a rebuilding time and Francona seemed to be nothing more then a place holder. It was at this time the ownership started thinking about fielding a contender yearly with the planning of the new park and the eventual big signing of Thome. The 90s Phillies were built to stink. So how much can be gleaned from his lackluster performance?

Boston fan perspectiveKevin Brennan (Riffs movies at OneWallCinema.com and chats baseball on Twitter)  Francona managed the Red Sox from 2004-2011.

I know in 2004 that most people who heard that Francona would be managing the Red Sox were a bit skeptical. For me, just hearing that Schilling was excited about it was good enough for me. 

Everyone knows about the insane 2004 playoffs that left the World Series feeling a bit lackluster. How can you not like a manager that took these self proclaimed “Idiots” and brought about the most nerve wracking come back in the history of the game (as far as I am concerned)? Ok let’s be honest, I might be a bit biased having gone through so much heartache following the Sox before the “curse” was broken. 

Fast forward to 2011. The media dubbed the Red Sox the “best. Team. Ever.” As a true fan of baseball you know not to do that. It’s like talking about a no-no in progress. I don’t even want to get into how bad that season hurt for so many reasons. Makes me sick just thinking about all the blown chances to have knuckleballer Tim Wakefield beat Roger Clemens and Cy Young for the all time Red Sox win total. Then September happened. I will do my best to not get sick just thinking about it. 

What followed was truly spectacular pre-2004 era classic Red Sox. You didn’t know how but you just knew they were going to blow whatever lead they had. 

Then they let Tito go. Huge mistake if you ask me. Oh sorry “he said he didn’t want to manage anymore” or whatever the spin was before the smear campaign started. 

Right away we heard the Red Sox won’t hire Bobby Valentine or ‘a Bobby Valentine type’. Huge sigh of relief from this fan. But still given how badly they bungled everything even to this point I joked that I was going to purchase the domain “FireBobbyValentine.com”. 

Then they did the unthinkable and actually HIRED HIM. 

Right away a vast number of people jumped on the Bobby V bandwagon and cheered him in how he would turn this ship around. I had no such hopes. 

I still say they should have given Francona an extension earlier in 2011 so he wasn’t a lame duck manager going into the September slide. Maybe that would have helped. Who knows. 

What you will get with Tito is a guy who will stick with someone despite a prolonged slump. Most times it works out (see Pedroia). He is definitely a players manager and I think the Tribe will benefit from the signing. Will they rise to the top of the division? I doubt it, but you never know what can happen. Unless you hire Bobby V.

Kevin also made this hilarious photo right after the Valentine hiring in Boston, to express his dismay.  Unfortunately for him, his fears pretty much came true.

 

 

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