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