Indians

Eating Fran-Crow-Na & Sandy’s First Win

FRANCONA POLE

I didn’t think I would be ready to eat crow so quickly, but here I am: I am absolutely stunned to read that Terry Francona’s interest in the Indians managerial job is not only real, but that it comes with serious enthusiasm.

He told the PD’s Paul Hoynes:

“People don’t know me very well if they don’t know I like a challenge,” said Francona from his home in Tucson, Ariz. “I’m excited by a challenge and I’m not afraid of a challenge. Especially, when I can do it with people I respect and care about.”

“We’d met a couple of years before at the winter meetings. We were both running on treadmills working out. Through Mark I met Chris Antonetti and over the years we’ve become good friends.”

“Stepping back and getting away for a year really helped me. I wouldn’t be interviewing unless I was extremely excited.”

Never in a million years did I think that a guy with Francona’s pedigree would even consider taking what I see as a bottom tier job with a dying fan base, hated ownership, and little talent. I read the quotes and I still shake my head. Maybe the Dolan’s were on to something when they decided to keep GM Chris Antonetti despite his horrific two year run captaining the SS Wahoo.

Francona cited his close relationship with Antonetti as one of the reasons he is so intrigued with the job. He “respects and cares about” the man who could potentially become his boss. Here is how I see it.

The two-time World Series champion looks up and says to himself, this team is in dire straits. They need me badly. There is so much ill will between the fan base and ownership and I could be the man who can bring them back together. They are so desperate to make any sort of splash that I can probably name my price. If ownership meets it, great, I can go to work with two people I know and respect. If not, I can stay at ESPN and await the next big gig that becomes available.

I can speak freely, open, and honestly with Antonetti and Shapiro and ultimately have a say in everything. I love a challenge, and this is one. But you know what? In that market, what kind of pressure would I be under? The media scrutiny is nothing like what I dealt with in Philly or Boston. Its not like i have to come in and win right away. This is a true rebuilding project. If I succeed, I’m a hero. If I fail, I am still Terry Francona, two-time World Series champion. I can either go back to ESPN or take another managerial job if I so choose.

Then again, whoever takes over this job, whether it be Francona or Sandy Alomar Jr (it will be one or the other, you can count on it), will have a team with a ton of issues.

You’ve got major holes at first base, left field, right field once Shin-Soo Choo is traded or leaves via free agency, and DH. This isn’t even mentioning the gigantic mess of a starting rotation that will be inherited by the next skipper. Potentially, you need an entire overhaul and their are no impact arms above A ball right now to plug into rotation in 2013. The free agent crop is weak and even if it wasn’t, your owners aren’t going to spend. Attendance will be at an all-time low next season as the Indians front office is going to have a real hard time promoting the product on the field.

That is why hiring a credible, eye-popping name like Francona would be a serious coup for the organization. Do I think it’s going to happen? I still don’t see it, but at least they know Sandy is waiting in the wings and is a beloved figure in the city.

SIDE NOTE – This is another topic for another day, but has any Indian ever done less to be this popular than Sandy? Take away his rookie season and 1997, and he was nothing but an injury prone, above average player.

Meanwhile, on the field, the Indians have won back to back series for the first time since July, capping the weekend with a massive 15-3 beat down of the Kansas City Royals that was highlighted by a 10-run fifth. Asdrubal Cabrera had a bunt single and a grand slam in the same inning. They have won four of five and in reality, should have a six game winning streak. Both games they lost this past week were games in which the team had in hand, but couldn’t finish.

On Tuesday, Adam Dunn’s three-run homer off of Vinnie Pestano gave the Chicago White Sox their lone win in that series. Trailing 7-6 in the 14th inning on Saturday, the Tribe loaded the bases with nobody out and failed to score.

The weekend kicked off with Alomar Jr’s first win as a manager. The 8-5 triumph was the first of many for Sandy, whether it be with the Tribe or eventually elsewhere. The players delivered a full beer shower for him in the locker room after the game.

“It was like a postseason celebration,” said Chris Perez, who saved his 39th game Friday. “We ambushed him. He never saw it coming.”

There are just three games left in what has become a miserable season. The Chicago White Sox, who were in first place the last time the two teams met for a three-game series six days ago, are one loss or one Detroit Tigers win from elimination. They have fallen completely off the map, losing 10 of 12 at the worst possible time. The Tribe can give them the death blow tonight.

Photo via Charles Krupa/AP

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  • boomhauertjs

    Sandy also didn’t slide at home in the top of 9th inning in Game 7 that would have given the Tribe an insurance run that Jose Mesa really needed.

  • http://twitter.com/ClevelandBob Bob O’Brien

    “Cited” not “Sighted”

  • Vindictive_Pat

    The question for me remains, “But what can he really do with these players?” Our pitching rotation is miserable. Our lineup lacks power. There are no minor-leaguers on the way to help any time soon. If we were the Red Sox, this would be the time when our ownership realizes that the only way to compete next year would be to bring in some high-priced free agents. But the Dolans can’t afford that, so it still seems to me like Francona is walking into a losing situation (for several years).

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If Francona is up for a challenge he’ll be coming to the right place that’s for sure. Whether it’s player under performing, a GM who practically pulled an 0fer in making the right moves, some of the worst scouting in the game or an owner who refuses to pay for better places this baseball team has it covered.

  • Steve

    Take away those two seasons and Alomar isn’t even an above average player. He topped 100 games just 4 times in 11 years here and was a crappy hitter just as often as he was a good one.

  • Natedawg86

    How would Perez know what a postseason celebration is like? Or maybe he wasn’t referring to celebrating when getting into the postseason or winning a postseason game, but rather celebrating the arrival of a post-season after the last regular season game. Will be interesting if Dolan decides to throw a lot of money at Francona and not any more into the roster.

  • Clown Baby

    HE’S NOT GOING TO LEAVE THE STUDIO TO COACH THE INDIANS!

  • Jim

    How can you just “take away 1997″ and say Sandy hasn’t done anything? Without him, there’s no way we make the WS in ’97. I’d say thats doing quite a bit.

  • Garry_Owen

    Cabrera had a bunt single and a grand slam in the same inning? Big deal.
    At recess one time, I hit a grand slam WHILE ON BASE after hitting a bunt single. (We were using ghost men).

  • Dee P

    The fact that Francona is interested tells me there is a serious, and I mean serious roster shakeup coming. We always hear about Antonetti talk about how there are “deals on the table” and how he can “explore them if we wish”….but yet no major deals (besides Ubaldo) happen. You have to believe this offseason will be full of a ton of trades by the Indians, with names we are very familiar with, as they purge the roster and bring in a whole new core. Kipnis, Chisenhall, Santana, and Pestano I’d say are the few guys that are secure. And Perhaps Francona is attracted to the idea that he can have a say in all of those moves. It could be a very busy offseason.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    Take away “Nevermind” and Nirvana was nothing but an overrated, above-average garage band.

    -TD

  • markn95

    I really hope Francona is in our dugout next year but I’m not anywhere close to getting my hopes up. He’s talking a good game right now, but wait until a couple more managerial jobs open up and the bidding war begins. I’m afraid the Indians will be left in the dust, much like they are in FA. Remember how “hard” they went after Beltran last offseason? Or offered “more money” to Pena? This organization is all talk. C’mon, Larry and Paul–prove me wrong!

  • REEPJP

    This is a Rocktober conversation….if that’s going to happen again this year

  • Steve

    Of course, the next inning, Grissom, Roberts and Vizquel pushed the run that actually got us to game 5 across, and then, you know, we had to win game 5 and the ALCS, along with enough games throughout the season. Sure, Alomar was a big part of the team for one year.

  • ClevelandFrowns

    The ALDS home run off Rivera is in the running for top sports fan moment of my life. Lock for top 5.

  • mgbode

    Sandy and Baerga were the first of the “new breed” of Indians players that helped culminate into the 1994 season of a good baseball team.

    The fact that they were who we got for Joe Carter actually helped him (we were attaching ourselves to those guys in those days desperately wanting them to be good), the fact that his brother did so well helped his name recognition (my Dad said we traded for the wrong Alomar when he heard about the trade initially), and the fact that he ended up having some memorable HRs (the allstar game HR certainly counts too) made him all the more beloved.

    but, basically, he was the face of the franchise after 38years of being terrible.

    ——————————–

    and considering how beloved Julio Franco, Brooks Jacoby, Corey Snyder and others are, I would definitely say that there were beloved players who did less for the Tribe :)

  • Steve

    He did come at the right time, and had some memorable moments, but so did Chad Ogea (2 world series wins). But he frequently missed a lot of time and played with names like Lofton, Vizquel, Belle, Thome, Ramirez, and even Nagy was a more valuable player. Seeming likeable through the media probably shouldn’t be worth anywhere near as much as he’s given credit for.

  • mgbode

    Ogea wasn’t the marquee part of the Joe Carter trade, wasn’t rookie of the year (and an allstar his rookie year along with a gold glove too), never made it to a total of 6 allstar games, never had a 30 game hitting streak, never hit a HR in a key spot in an allstar game or playoff game, and had the unfortunate coincidence of having his name pronounced O-J in the mid-90s.

    non-comparable players.

    (and this doesn’t even mention that Sandy had 10RBIs in the ’97 WS. Omar is the one who was feuding with Mesa but it really should have been Sandy whom Mesa screwed out of a WS-MVP)

    yes, Sandy is beloved more than his numbers back-up. but, CHAD OGEA! Come on man.

    Sandy was a product of a ton of hype, followed by initially backing up that hype, and providing enough quality moments afterward to keep people interested. His media relations obviously were a boon to that as well.

  • mgbode

    and if he didn’t hit 10RBI in that WS the Tribe would never have had a lead in the series to begin with

  • Steve

    Key Alomar memories – being Rookie of the Year, 30 game hitting streak, and an All-Star game home run. Sure, we remember those, but they really mean so little in the big picture. Also, Alomar made the All Star game in a year that he ended up playing 51 games with a .530 OPS. I think it’s pretty obvious he lived off that reputation.

    He had one great postseason (in a year where we had a lot of postseason magic) and then some fairly meaningless accolades. I get why he was popular, but I just don’t think a guy who was one of the best 5 players on the team just once or twice, should be.

  • porckchopexpress

    Great argument. Take away the BEST 20% of a players production and he’s just average. I’m going to use that next time someone tells me Lebron is the greatest basketball player alive.
    I’ll say; Yeah well if you take away the ’12 championship he still hasn’t won a title. Thanks for that genius argument tactic.

  • porckchopexpress

    So you are now in charge of telling people who they should remember as a fan favorite? Somewhere Chuck Klosterman is drooling over your hippsterness. I got news for you bub, a great rookie season, solid if unspectacular numbers for most of a decade and a monster year + stud WS performance is more than 99% of all baseball players can claim. It is more than enough to merit fan adoration.