Tag: Terry Francona

Terry Francona’s 2nd Manager of the Year Award Pads Sterling Hall of Fame Resume

Terry Francona would surely trade his American League Manager of the Year awardand presumably every other piece of hardware in his trophy casefor another crack at the 2016 World Series.

His Cleveland Indians got to Game 7. They could taste it. Their first championship since 1948. 

Instead, it was “wait until next year.”

Since Francona can’t make that trade, he’ll accept Manager of the Year honors as a consolation prize and another line on an increasingly unimpeachable Hall of Fame resume.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced Tuesday that Francona won the AL version of the award for the second time in his career—he also won it with the Indians in 2013—in somewhat of a landslide.

Francona received 22 of 30 possible first-place votes. The Texas Rangers‘ Jeff Banister received four first-place votes, while the Baltimore Orioles‘ Buck Showalter and Boston Red Sox‘s John Farrell got two each.

Voting is based only on regular-season results, but it’s safe to assume Cleveland’s deep postseason run would have tipped the scales further in Francona’s direction.

The 57-year-old skipper ushered the Tribe to a 94-67 finish and an AL Central crown despite losing his best hitter, outfielder Michael Brantley, for all but 11 games.

The Indians also lost two of their top three starting pitchers—Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco—in the season’s second half and limped into the playoffs with a deeply depleted rotation.

That’s when Francona’s boldness and creativity took over, as he utilized his bullpen in unorthodox ways—admittedly with a massive assist from super-reliever Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen. That duo combined for 33 innings and yielded just three earned runs in the playoffs. 

Miller, especially, was Francona’s lifeline. He went to him early. He went to him often.

The Indians fell short of the finish line by a few agonizing inches. Without Francona at the helm, though, they likely wouldn’t have gotten that close.

He accepted the accolade with humility, per USA Today‘s Jorge L. Ortiz:

When something like this happens, if somebody thinks it’s an individual award, it’s the furthest thing from the truth. One, it’s players, incredible players. It’s front office, ownership, the coaches. The coaches work so hard every day, and I’m the one who gets to take a bow every once in a while. I wish we could do this together because they deserve it.

That’s a nice sentiment. Francona, though, has reached a point where he can bow alone.

Through 16 seasons as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Red Sox and Indians, he owns a 1,381-1,209 record, good for a .533 winning percentage. Since his four forgettable years in Philadelphia, he’s never endured a losing season.

He’s also won three pennants overall and two World Series titles with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007.

The first of those titles was the one that busted the Curse of the Bambino and featured Boston’s legendary American League Championship Series comeback over the archrival New York Yankees.

The Red Sox were down 3-0 in the series. The momentum turned in the ninth inning of Game 4 when a pinch runner named Dave Roberts stole second and ultimately scored the tying run.

That same Dave Roberts was named National League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, per the BBWAA, for his work with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a cool factoid CSN Chicago’s Christopher Kamka highlighted:

Francona is signed with Cleveland through 2020, so he’ll have more chances to end the Indians’ World Series drought. Even if he doesn’t, he appears destined for a Hall of fame bust.

He’s now won 38 postseason games, which places him sixth on the all-time list behind Joe Torre (84), Tony La Russa (70), Bobby Cox (67), Bruce Bochy (44) and Jim Leyland (44). The first three are in the Hall of Fame, and the other two likely will be.

He’s currently 30th on the all-time list for regular-season managerial wins. Of the men ahead of him, 24 are either active managers or in the Hall.

Wins and losses ultimately define a manager, but the job is as much about the unquantifiable stuff, including keeping players happy and motivated.

“Tito does such a good job of setting the tone in the clubhouse,” said Miller, who played for Francona in Boston and Cleveland, per Sporting News’ Jesse Spector. “It’s loose. That’s his style.”

He also pulls the right levers. Every skipper is open to second-guessing, but what Francona did with the Indians pitching staff this October was nothing short of remarkable.

It was a strategy born of desperation,” as The Ringer’s Michael Baumann noted, “but from that desperation sprung a solution that was, through 10 of the 11 wins Cleveland needed to take home a title, practically unbeatable.” 

“Practically” is the key word. Francona’s machinations didn’t result in champagne and confetti. Ultimately, he left Cleveland fans hungry rather than satiated.

But he added another feather to his decorated cap—and moved himself one step closer to Cooperstown.


All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Terry Francona’s Contract Options Picked Up by Indians: Latest Details, Reaction

Manager Terry Francona led the Cleveland Indians to the 2016 World Series, where they lost a dramatic Game 7 to the Chicago Cubs in extra innings, 8-7. The organization announced Friday it elected to exercise the 2019 and 2020 club options on his contract.

Francona—whom Bob Nightengale of USA Today called a future Hall of Famer—has been with the Indians since the start of the 2013 campaign and finished with a winning record in each of his first four years. He was the 2013 American League Manager of the Year with a 92-70 record and an AL Wild Card Game appearance the season after Cleveland finished 68-94.

Francona coached the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997-2000 and the Boston Red Sox from 2004-11. He won two World Series with Boston, including the franchise’s first since 1918 in 2004.

His winning ways in Cleveland are nothing new considering he also posted a winning record in every season with the Red Sox:

Francona’s managing abilities were on full display in this year’s postseason. The Indians reached the World Series despite missing Michael Brantley for the majority of their season. What’s more, starting pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were each injured entering the playoffs and didn’t make a single start.

That left Francona scrambling with a three-man rotation in the World Series, and he had to manage through Trevor Bauer’s finger injury in the American League Championship Series.

He unleashed ace Corey Kluber and lockdown relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen throughout October and fell just one win short of a title.

He led the Indians through plenty of adversity in the playoffs and nearly beat a Cubs team that finished with an MLB-best 103 wins during the regular season. Cleveland fans are likely excited to see what he can do with a full deck in the coming years.

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Indians Positioned Themselves for Possible World Series Win with 2 Bold Moves

CLEVELAND — One win away from their first World Series title in 68 years, it’s taken the Cleveland Indians far more than 68 moves to build this dream of a team.

And yet two bold statements stand out above all the rest.

The first was hiring manager Terry Francona back on Oct. 6, 2012.

The second was acquiring relief ace Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees on July 31.

This, of course, is not meant to minimize the importance of Jason Kipnis, the heartbeat of the Indians. Or Mike Napoli, the spiritual guru of the club. Or Francisco Lindor, who embodies Cleveland’s passion and fun. Nor ace Corey Kluber, whose acquisition from the San Diego Padres back in July 2010 is the closest thing baseball offers to a real, live stagecoach robbery.

All, obviously, are crucial pieces.

None, however, were the bold statements Francona and Miller represent.

You don’t hire a manager like Francona unless you’re drop-dead serious about winning. When the Indians hired the man who won two World Series in Boston to replace Manny Acta, they moved to the big boys’ table.

You don’t shop for a game-changer like Miller, sending the Yankees a four-prospect package that included prized outfield prospect Clint Frazier, unless you firmly believe you’re just one piece away. When the Indians acquired the 6’7″ lefty, they put that piece in place.

Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president of baseball operations, is reluctant to speak in such dramatic terms, preferring instead to point out that it is an accumulation of a lot of things that has the Indians on the edge of exhilaration. All true.

But Antonetti also allows that Francona’s hire “was a pivotal time for our franchise, and without him, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today.”

Francona has managed his personnel this postseason the way a lion manages the jungle. He hasn’t nibbled. He hasn’t been tentative. From putting Miller on call for the majority of innings to moving Carlos Santana to left field for the first time this year amid the pressure of a World Series game, Francona has made it clear he’s going for the kill.

If the Indians obtain one more victory, Francona will have managed himself right into the Hall of Fame. Any manager who helps end the 86-year drought in Boston and a 68-year dry spell in Cleveland will not have to wait. Heck, he may be headed for Cooperstown even if the Indians somehow lose this World Series.

“Our vision is to win the World Series,” Antonetti says flatly, and let’s interrupt him right here for just a moment. Every executive of every team says that. But how many mean it? In a given year, if you weigh the moves they make against the words they speak, you can ascertain that many executives are speaking hollow words because either their owners won’t spend the money or they lack the creativity.

So, back to Antonetti.

“Every team is trying to hire a manager with that vision in mind,” he continues. “I think Tito’s track record, his demonstrated ability to lead, his reputation throughout the game within front offices, players, coaches, media—he’s universally respected. And so we’re really fortunate to have him, and I’m grateful I get to work alongside him every day.”

That may qualify as the understatement of the year.

Francona had been fired by the Red Sox following the 2011 season after eight summers there. He then sat out the 2012 campaign, spending it as a television analyst for ESPN. He needed time to decompress and survey the landscape following the pressure-cooker years in one of baseball’s toughest jobs.

Seizing the opportunity to hire Francona, the Indians found his impact on the organization extends far beyond his seat in the dugout.

“The way he connects with people,” Antonetti says. “We talk about it all the time, the way he builds relationships with players. But his relationship building extends beyond just that group. He does it with our scouts, with our player-development staff, with our front office.

“He builds those relationships and creates connections so that we have become, over time, a more integrated organization. You’ll see our scouts and our analytics guys all in the clubhouse interacting. He welcomes and fosters that environment.”

From clubhouse cribbage games with players to his complete honesty at all times, Francona has a rare ability to inspire trust among his players.

When those who were Indians back in the winter of 2012-13 learned the club had hired Francona, it was eye-opening news.

“You knew the reputation he had as a players’ manager; you knew he had just won rings in Boston, and the guys loved him and had nothing bad to say about him,” Kipnis says. “When you get someone who brings that over to your side, there is nothing but excitement. You feel very fortunate to play for a guy like that.”

To the point that Kipnis hopes it is permanent.

“You kind of hope you don’t play for anybody else,” Kipnis says. “You’re like, OK, I’m all right if he’s the manager for the rest of my career.”

The hire wasn’t simply impressive externally. Internally, it changed some of the players’ perceptions of their organization.

“You start thinking that you’re going to do things the right way,” Kipnis says. “Not that you were doing things the wrong way before, but you know his way works, and you’re going to do some things that work and that you know work. It gets you a little more excited at the possibility.”

Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall echoes Kipnis.

“I’m sure he had his pick of where he wanted to go,” Chisenhall says. “Just as much as us hunting him, he picked us. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”

That’s the way it’s been with Miller, too. The big lefty went 4-0 with three saves and a 1.55 ERA in 26 games during the regular season. He’s also struck out 29 of 62 batters faced in the postseason while being deployed by Francona anywhere from the fifth inning on.

Acquiring Miller paid immediate dividends on the field and in the clubhouse. How? It gave the Indians even more swagger. They led the American League Central by 4.5 games on the day they traded for him; the deal was a statement they took to heart.

“I thought so,” Kipnis says. “You hate to say anything bad when the trade deadline’s going around. You get nervous, you knew we were in first place at the time and you wanted to make a move and you got [players] who start talking about, hey, it might send the wrong message if they don’t make a move. Because you’re not going to be in any better position than we were at the trade deadline, and if the front office isn’t going to show they’re behind you then, when are they? That’s what you start thinking.

“Then they go and get Andrew Miller and you’re like, I don’t know why we questioned them. They’re just as all-in as we are. And it makes you proud of them.”

The Indians first contacted the Yankees about Miller in mid-June, shortly after the amateur draft. It was simply a “Hey, we’re interested if you decide to trade him” sort of call. Each team discussed its needs.

The Indians also talked Aroldis Chapman, whom the Yankees wound up trading to the Cubs, and they checked in with Pittsburgh on closer Mark Melancon, who eventually went to Washington.

After three or four weeks of talks and “a lot of iterations” of the trade, according to Antonetti, they finally struck the deal.

Antonetti says the Indians had high expectations when they acquired Miller, viewing him as a pitcher who could throw multiple innings and work in different parts of a game, but “as a competitor, as a performer and as a teammate, if possible, he’s exceeded those expectations.”

The fact that Miller is in the second season of a four-year, $36 million deal gives him enough of a guarantee that he doesn’t have to worry about working in non-save situations, which dilute his saves total and in turn could lessen contract offers on the free-agent market. Although, the Indians are so impressed with him that Francona guesses Miller probably would be willing to pitch whenever, even if he didn’t already have a guaranteed deal.

“There was a pit in the bottom of your stomach, especially for a market like ours where we gave up guys who are going to be very good major league players,” Antonetti says of the deal. “And to give up that many guys of that quality is really difficult.”

Says Chisenhall, with appreciation: “When we needed to make a move this summer, they didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.”

You don’t often get an opportunity like Cleveland had this July. So when winning met the chance to acquire an impact reliever like Miller, the Indians seized it.

“That was a big part of the calculus,” Antonetti says. “The way our team played, we felt we would have a chance to compete for a postseason berth. And if we got there, obviously, we felt the goal was to win the World Series. And we felt Andrew would have an impact on that, not only this year but in the future.”

Together with Francona, that future appears pretty much like nirvana. Short term, especially. Back at home, the Indians have two chances to win just one game, which would produce their first World Series championship since 1948.

And long term, this is a young team that, much like division-rival Kansas City, could be on this October stage a few years in a row.

“Anybody who’s spent 10 minutes around me this year or the last four years knows how comfortable I am in this situation here,” Francona says. “I think Chris, if people were around him more…I don’t think people realize how good he is. Because we haven’t had the biggest payroll here, it’s not like when Jon Lester’s a free agent Chris was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think he’s any good.’ You know?

“You’re given a certain number, and you have to make that work, and he’s managed to put together four years of pretty good teams.”

Four years of pretty good teams, punctuated by two fearless statements. It’s a mix that has worked beautifully, and one the Indians hope pays off with one more victory over the next couple of games.


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Terry Francona Pushing All the Right Buttons Again as Indians Regain WS Lead

Terry Francona walked to the mound, and Chicago Cubs fans around the world thought the Cleveland Indians manager was doing them a favor.

Some favor.

Josh Tomlin was cruising Friday at Wrigley Field, two outs into the fifth inning of a scoreless game. The Cubs had two hits, both singles. Tomlin had thrown just 58 pitches.

“He was dealing,” my cousin texted me from London, where it was just past 3 a.m. “I can’t believe they pulled him.”

They did, or rather he did. Francona pulled Tomlin and brought in Andrew Miller.

If a less experienced or less respected manager makes that move, he’s setting himself up to be ripped for years to come. When Francona does it, he’s setting himself up to win a crucial World Series game.


The guy has managed 11 of these games, and he’s won 10 of them. He would never say he has it figured out, but he sure does have a sense of what move to make and when.

“Perfectly managed game,” Pete Rose said on the Fox postgame show.

Later on that same show, Indians outfielder Coco Crisp called Francona “a comedian,” explaining how he keeps the clubhouse loose. That helps, but it also helps that he has just the right feel for when a game and a series require urgency.

He felt it Friday in Game 3, understanding that an Indians win would push the team ahead two games to one and set up ace Corey Kluber to potentially give them a commanding lead in Saturday night’s Game 4. Francona seemed to realize early on that this could be a low-scoring game, and he seemed to manage it early on to try to get a 1-0 win in nine innings.

He was out of position players by the end, and he had run through the best part of his bullpen. Extra innings would have been tough, but when Cody Allen struck out Javier Baez to end it, the Indians didn’t need extra innings.

Tomlin was dealing, but Francona didn’t want him to face pinch hitter Miguel Montero with the go-ahead run on second base. He was going to let Miller keep the game scoreless through the fifth, sixth and maybe even the seventh, giving his hitters more chance to get a lead.

He risked his team not scoring, and he risked Miller throwing so many pitches he wouldn’t be available or wouldn’t be effective Saturday. Instead, he got a seventh-inning run when Coco Crisp (batting for Miller) drove in pinch runner Michael Martinez with a one-out single. He got four outs from Miller on just 17 pitches, ensuring he’ll be at full strength again Saturday.

He needed nine more outs from Bryan Shaw and Allen, and he got those too.

He had his 1-0 win in nine innings. It was the first 1-0 win in a World Series game in 11 years and just the fifth in the last 30 years.

Indians fan will remember one of those well. It was the clinching Game 6 in 1995, 1-0 Atlanta Braves over the Indians.

That night in Atlanta, Indians manager Mike Hargrove pulled his starter two outs into the fifth inning of a scoreless game. The difference that night was that starter Dennis Martinez had already allowed nine baserunners on four hits and five walks.

Few knew it at the time, but Martinez almost didn’t start that game.

“When Dennis was warming up, he goes, ‘Mark, I don’t know if I can make it; my arm’s killing me,'” pitching coach Mark Wiley told me this month, when I was working on Bleacher Report’s story on the Indians of the 1990s. “Dennis went out there, but he had absolutely nothing.”

Hargrove had little choice but to go to the bullpen. In the sixth inning, reliever Jim Poole gave up a David Justice home run for the game’s only run.

Until Friday, Martinez was the only starter in World Series history to go 4.2 innings without allowing a run, according to research through Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index.

Now there are two, and this time it turned out a lot better for the Indians.

It turned out perfectly in a perfectly managed game during a perfectly managed month. Francona’s Indians are the first team ever with five shutouts in a single postseason.

Kluber started three of the five shutouts. In the other two, Francona pulled his starting pitcher in the fifth inning. He did it with rookie Ryan Merritt in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays and again with the more experienced Tomlin Friday night.

“Fine with me,” Tomlin told MLB Network. “Perfect scenario.”   

He understood, and now everyone does.

Terry Francona has this managing-in-October thing figured out.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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Terry Francona Illness: Updates on Indians Manager’s Status and Return

The Cleveland Indians will be without manager Terry Francona for Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals because “he was experiencing chest pains before [the] game,” per Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com.

Continue for updates.

Francona Comments on Incident

Wednesday, Aug. 10 

“I’ve had this before,” said Francona, per Hoynes. “The same thing happened at Yankee Stadium.” The manager continued:

Remember I had the blood clots and embolism and all that (in 2001)? Well, a couple of years later at Yankee Stadium it felt like almost the same thing. At the time they felt like one of the blood clots had slipped through the screen I have in there and acts and feels like a heart attack. 

It went away, but it put me in the hospital for three days. It was opening day 2005. We took the bus in from (Manhattan) to Yankee Stadium and Millsie (Mills was Francona’s bench coach in Boston as well as Cleveland) had to wake me up and I was drenched in sweat. I put my uniform on. I figured I could fake my way through. Ten minutes later I said forget this something is wrong with me.

Francona added he will have additional tests when the team returns to Cleveland on Thursday. 

Bench Coach Brad Mills to Manage

Tuesday, Aug. 9

The Indians made an announcement regarding the situation:

Francona told reporters before the contest that he was having chest pains, according to Hoynes. Tuesday’s game marked the first of a two-game set in Washington for the American League Central leaders.

Francona managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997-2000 and the Boston Red Sox from 2004-11 before joining the Indians for the 2013 campaign. Since then, he has racked up an impressive 320-274 record in Cleveland and reached the American League Wild Card Game in his first season. However, the Indians lost to the Tampa Bay Rays in that contest and haven’t returned to the postseason since.

Francona directed the Red Sox to two World Series titles during his tenure, the first of which came in 2004 and snapped the “Curse of the Bambino.” It was the franchise’s first championship since the 1918 season.

When he returns, Francona has the Indians well-positioned to challenge for a World Series title of their own this season. They led the American League Central over the Detroit Tigers by 2.5 games coming into play Tuesday, although they are only 2-5 in August.

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Terry Francona, Indians Agree to New Contract: Latest Details and Reaction

After two winning seasons at the helm for the Cleveland Indians, manager Terry Francona‘s future is now secure thanks to the finalization of a contract extension Tuesday.

According to MLB.com’s TribeVibe, Francona and the Indians have agreed to a two-year extension through 2018 with club options for both the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

Per the team’s official Twitter account, the 55-year-old skipper is thrilled to continue leading the Tribe:

Francona also made his excitement known in this video courtesy of MLB.com:

“Tito” joined the Indians in 2013 after eight seasons and two World Series championships with the Boston Red Sox. He immediately made his presence known in Cleveland by leading the Indians to the playoffs in his debut campaign and winning the American League Manager of the Year award as well.

“I checked with a couple of the players [during the extension talks]. … I believe this is about the players. I wanted them to be comfortable knowing that I was going to be here also, or I wouldn’t have done this,” Francona said, per TribeVibe.

Francona was unable to make a repeat trip to the postseason in 2014, but he still helped the Tribe accrue an 85-77 record.

Journalist Danny Knobler shared his thoughts on Francona’s contract extension following the announcement:

He certainly has the Indians moving in the right direction after five consecutive non-winning seasons, which is why this contract extension makes all the sense in the world.

Few managers have had more success than Francona over the past decade, and the Indians are banking on the notion that his winning ways will continue in the coming years.


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Terry Francona Tells Blake Wood He Made Indians with Awesome Trip to the Mound

It’s never a good thing when the skipper walks to the mound, unless the manager is Terry Francona and he is meandering over to the bump to relay that you made the team. 

Fox Sports’ Joe Reedy (h/t Deadspin) reports the Indians manager decided to inform pitcher Blake Wood that he had made it to The Show with a trip to the mound on Monday. 

Here is what Francona had to say about the brief exchange on the field he had with the 28-year-old, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012:

When I went to take him out, (catcher Luke) Carlin was coming and I told him to stay back there a little bit…I went out there and asked (Wood) if he ever made the team on the mound? He was like no. I go ‘well, you just did.’ After that we came and talked to him the dugout but you could tell he was pretty excited.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t spot any video of the poignant moment, but Twitter, thankfully, has an image of the meeting Wood will never forget, via Indians president Mark Shapiro

Go ahead and stick that bad boy in your back pocket and bust it out on a rainy day, because it is just too wonderful. 

As Northeast Ohio Media Group Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes reminds, “The Indians claimed Wood on waivers in 2012 after he had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow with the Royals.” In the end, two more appearances during spring were enough to really welcome Wood into the fold. 

There is hardly a more wonderful way to find out you made it into the bigs. The Akron Beacon Journal’s Marla Ridenour provides a video of Wood explaining his feelings on making the Indians roster:

When asked about the team’s patience, Wood offered, “It’s meant a lot. Initially just giving me a chance is probably what I’ve been more appreciative of them than anything.”

Reedy reports Francona had his phone on him in the dugout, staying in touch with general manager Chris Antonetti on the possibility of keeping Wood with the squad. 

When Tito received word that Wood was on the team, he decided to do more than relieve his pitcher from the mound; he put any anxiety to rest as well. 

The right-hander, in just 9.2 innings of work this spring, gave up just one earned run and six hits, according to Baseball Reference

It’s a small sample size, to be sure, but it was more than enough to convince Francona and Antonetti that Wood would be an asset from day one. 

Hoynes reports that Wood will sit somewhere amid the eight pitchers the Indians will carry in the bullpen. With a brilliant fastball, don’t expect Wood to get completely lost in the shuffle of arms. 

However, with the likes of John Axford, Marc Rzepczynski, a hopefully classic Vinnie Pestano, as well as Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw, both of whom featured heavily last season, it’s going to be tough to crack into the regular rotation. Then again, Wood understands challenges quite well. 

Antonetti states, “He had great arm strength and when healthy we knew he was going to be an effective major league pitcher. We were trying to see that process through.”

Wood’s velocity is up, at times touching triple digits, and Francona, via Reedy, was gracious with his praise, “He not only got better but he got really good at it to the point where it is going to be hard to run on him because he is so quick.”

Of course, the rookie is pleased with the results: “It has been a long road but I’m here now. You don’t know what is going to happen coming back from major surgery. With the Indians sticking with me and giving me a shot, I’m happy they did that.”

Beyond the remarkable recovery and the faith the Indians had in the hard-throwing kid coming off Tommy John surgery is the beautiful manner Francona chose to deliver the good news. 

Getting ripped from the game has never felt so good. 


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Terry Francona Manager of Year Win Result of Remarkable Indians Turnaround

The results are in and Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has been named the AL Manager of the Year:

Francona beat out Boston skipper John Farrell by 16 points, with Oakland‘s Bob Melvin coming in third. Here’s a look at the full results:

The Indians went 92-70 in 2013, a year after they went 68-94 and finished with the fifth-worst record in all of baseball. They qualified for the playoffs this year, thanks in large part to a 10-game winning streak at the end of the season. It was also the Indians’ first playoff appearance since 2007.

Although they lost in the Wild Card playoff game, it didn’t take away from what the Indians accomplished.


Angry Fans

Some fans didn’t take kindly to the news, as they feel like Farrell was robbed of the award:

It’s understandable why some fans would be upset. After all, the Red Sox were only one game better than the Indians in 2012, and five games better during the 2013 regular season. Not only that, but they won the World Series.

One fan did put it into perspective, however:

For a team that went from worst to first, it’s understandable why fans would be angry. But there’s a little history behind the AL Manager of the Year.


Top-Manager History

Recent history hasn’t been too kind to AL managers who guided their teams to the World Series. Joe Maddon won it in 2008 after guiding the Rays to the World Series, while Jim Leyland (2006) and Ozzie Guillen (2005) won the awards and went to the World Series. Out of those three, only Guillen’s team won the World Series.

And as Francona and Boston fans know, just because you win the World Series (or make it there), it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to win the top managerial award.

In 2004 and 2007, when Boston won its previous titles, Francona was edged out in the voting as well. In 2004, Francona finished fifth, despite leading the Red Sox to lift “The Curse of the Bambino.” Buck Showalter (Rangers), Ron Gardenhire (Twins), Mike Scioscia (Angels) and Joe Torre (Yankees) all finished ahead of him.

Then, in 2007, Francona finished fourth behind Eric Wedge (Indians), Scioscia and Torre. 

History has shown that the manager who wins the award is the one who has done more with less, and that doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a world champion. This year, that was Francona.


Why Francona Is the Right Choice

For those who wonder why Francona is a better choice, all you have to do is look deeper into the numbers:

The first number is the most important. With almost half the payroll of the Red Sox, the Indians were still able to be close in every category; Francona did more with less.

The Red Sox had seven players making more than $10 million, while the Indians had one—Nick Swisher ($11 million). Cleveland also did it with a patchwork rotation that included Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. Boston did it with the likes of Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster and Clay Buchholz.

Simply put, Farrell had more to work with in Boston than Francona did in Cleveland.


What His Players Are Saying

It’s interesting to get Cleveland players’ perspective on who was the heart of the team:

Francona brought a winning attitude to Cleveland, and it’s a mindset that gives players and fans hope for the future. 


He Deserved It

Despite your beliefs, it’s hard to argue that Francona didn’t deserve the award. He’s been worthy of the distinction for a long time, but somehow never was able to finish better than fourth.

Managing a team that lacked the star power that Boston had, it’s safe to say Francona and the Indians overachieved.

They improved by 24 games from a season ago. The last time Cleveland had a turnaround of that magnitude was in 1995, when it won 100 games, 34 more than the previous year. And it just so happened to coincide with their first World Series appearance in 41 years.

Francona turned around a team without the aid of a huge payroll, and did it with a bevy of players who had been written off by the rest of baseball.

The Indians gave Cleveland hope once again. It’s a hope that is almost 50 years in the making since the city last won a title in any sport. It’s been close a few times in baseball, but came up short. In basketball, it was thought that LeBron James would surely bring a title to his hometown. But that didn’t happen. And the Browns are…well, the Browns.

Cleveland is relevant again in the sports world and it’s thanks in large part to Francona.

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Terry Francona Wins American League Manager of the Year Award

Just two years ago Terry Francona had reached rock bottom in his baseball career. What a difference two years can make.

Francona’s masterful managerial performance this past season was recognized today when he was named the 2013 American League Manager of the Year, according to MLB:

Francona led the Cleveland Indians to their first playoff appearance since 2007 this year as they improved markedly. The Tribe finished a disappointing 68-94 in 2012, but thanks to some shrewd personnel maneuvers as well as the hiring of Francona, the Indians improved to 92-70 and earned an AL Wild Card berth.

Although Cleveland fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card Game, there is no question that the Indians’ 2013 season was a success. Many expected Cleveland to make strides, but few thought that the turnaround would happen so quickly. It wasn’t a team without flaws, which made Francona’s accomplishment even greater.

In order to understand how meaningful this award is for Francona, it’s important to look back at his time in Boston. Francona was hailed as a hero in 2004 when he helped lead the Red Sox to their first World Series title since 1918. Francona did what so few before him failed to as he broke the “Curse of the Bambino.”

Francona followed that up with another World Series title in 2007, and it seemed as though he was entrenched as Boston’s manager until retirement. Things started to change in the following years, though, when the Red Sox couldn’t seem to get back over the hump.

They missed the playoffs in both 2010 and 2011, but the manner in which they faltered in 2011 was the stuff of legend. Boston led either the AL East or the wild-card race for much of the season, but they experienced one of the worst collapses in baseball history. A 7-20 record in the month of September allowed the Rays to beat them out for a playoff spot.

Whether it was fair or not, Francona took the brunt of the criticism and he was essentially pushed out the door after the season. He took a year to decompress and did some work as an analyst, but it didn’t take him long to find another managerial job, as the Indians welcomed him with open arms.

Francona was maligned for Boston’s late-season shortcomings, but he erased those doubts this season by leading the Indians to a 21-6 mark in September.

The Indians are a talented team, but there were plenty of issues that Francona had to work through. He didn’t have a single .300 hitter. His leading home run hitter was Nick Swisher, who clubbed just 22. He didn’t have a 15-game winner on the team. Chris Perez, who served as his closer for much of the season, had an ERA of 4.33.

Any of those things could have caused a team to crumble under lesser leadership, but Francona clearly brought an intangible factor to the Indians that allowed them to perform well beyond their means.

Red Sox manager John Farrell deserves credit for leading the Red Sox to the best record in the AL as well as a World Series win, but he had so much more to work with than Francona did.

This Manager of the Year Award marks the first of Francona’s MLB career despite the fact that he has managed so many good teams in the past. The 2013 Indians were far from Francona’s best team, but it’s tough to argue against the notion that he had a bigger positive impact on his team this past season than any other manager.  


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Terry Francona Rips Boston Red Sox Ownership

Former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has a new book entitled Francona: The Red Sox Years, and it hits shelves on January 22.

Co-authored by Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy, the book sheds light on a number of topics, including the circumstances leading to Francona’s departure from Boston in 2011.

Francona makes several bold assertions, stating in an excerpt released to the public that the Red Sox owners were not passionate about the game of baseball. The front office has also been criticized by fans over the years for being more concerned with marketability and expanding revenue streams rather than running a successful franchise.

“I think they like baseball,” writes Francona. “It’s revenue, and I know that’s their right and their interest because they’re owners … and they’re good owners. But they don’t love the game. It’s still more of a toy or a hobby for them.”

While Francona recognizes baseball is a business and must be treated as such, the front office said and did some things that rubbed him the wrong way during his tenure in Boston.

He recalls almost walking out of a lunch meeting with principal owner John Henry, CEO Larry Lucchino and chairman Tom Werner in 2010. Werner complained about dwindling television ratings, claiming the Red Sox needed to start winning in a more “exciting fashion.”  

In an ESPN E:60 interview with Jeremy Schaap, Francona said, “I definitely think [the Red Sox front office] wanted to win and they also wanted to sell the product.”

In order to sell their product, the owners allegedly devoted $100,000 toward a marketing project directed at enhancing the female demographic. According to the book, the results showed that women “are definitely more drawn to the ‘soap opera’ and ‘reality-TV’ aspects of the game. … They are interested in good-looking stars and sex symbols.”

Former Red Sox VP/general manager Theo Epstein explains in the memoir that he was told by ownership to build a “sexier team.”

“[Ownership] told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle,” he said. “Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.”

That offseason, the Red Sox traded for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and signed outfielder Carl Crawford to a megadeal worth $142 million over seven years.

It should come as no surprise that the image-crazy front office continues to perpetuate a fraudulent home sellout streak that should have ended years ago. The fans and media are not dumb, nor are they blind. They can see the hundreds of empty seats at Red Sox home games over the last two-and-a-half seasons.

Let’s not forget the flurry of celebrations during Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary, amidst yet another tumultuous season with Bobby Valentine at the helm.

By the way, have you bought your commemorative brick yet?

Terry Francona’s book will offer a breath of fresh air. It will expose the Red Sox front office for what it really is: greedy, money-grubbing, enterprising businessmen who care more about the team’s image and sex appeal than wins and losses.  

If winning baseball games is no longer a priority for John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner, then their decade-long stay in Boston has run its course. 

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