From 'What if' to 'What now?'
Indians must provide new talent for new skipper
General Manager Chris Antonetti (right) introduces Terry Francona (left) as new Indians manager at the Oct. 8 press conference. Francona is the 42nd manager in the club's history. Photo courtesy Aaron Josefczyk/Retuers
The Cleveland Indians have officially announced that the club has hired Terry Francona Monday Oct. 8 as the 42nd manager in club history. The hiring will make the the third time Francona has been a part of the Indians. In 1988, he played one season for the Tribe and was a special assistant to Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti in the front office in 2001.
From 1997 to 2000, Francona managed the Philadelphia Phillies where he compiled a 285-363 record (.440 winning percentage). After his time with the Phillies, he spent jumped from team to team, spending a year with the Tribe, the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics before being hired by the Boston Red Sox in 2004. In Boston, Francona lead his red Sox to a 774-552 record (.574 winning percentage).
During his tenure in Beantown, he won two World Series, both coming in memorable fashion. Before 2003, no team in Major League Baseball history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs to win the World Series and only a handful of teams have come back to tie the series. In the 2003 playoffs, Francona found his Bo-Sox down 3-0 to arch-rival New York Yankees in the American League Conference Series only to come back to win the pennant and go on to win the World Series. In the 2007 ALCS, he found his Red Sox down 3-1 to the team he now manages, the Indians. Like deja vu, Boston once again came back in the series, won the pennant and went on to win the World Series.
This move shows the Indians are ready to win. The front office went out and got the best available manager on the market after the firing of Manny Acta with just six games left of the 2012 season. With the team addressing the coaching situation, Tribe fans have gone from asking what if to what now?
The Indians have some hard decisions to make regarding the roster this offseason. They have three days after the World Series to decide if they will pick up the options on Travis Hafner's contract ($13 million), Ubaldo Jimenez's contract ($5.75 million) and Roberto Hernandez - formerly Fausto Carmona ($9 million).
With the rotating door of players in left field last season, the Tribe is still in need of an everyday left fielder. Casey Kotchman is unlikely to be re-signed and Matt LaPorta not being a solid option, Cleveland needs a first baseman. The Indians are likely to decline the $13 million option on Hafner so the designated hitter position is a need. Russ Canzler, who impressed during his stint in the majors during the September call-ups, is likely to fill one of those spots, but the Tribe will have to go outside of the organization to fill the rest.
Although the backend of the bullpen is perfect moving forward with relievers Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and closer Chris Perez, the Indians need starting pitching. Starter Carlos Carrasco will rejoin the Indians after missing the 2012 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and Justin Masterson will most likely be the ace. If the Indians pick up the options on Hernandez and Jimenez, there will only be one spot to fill. Zack McAllister made a strong case to fill that spot this season as he was the most consistent pitcher after being called up from AAA.
The Indians need to learn from their past offseason mistakes by being able to put the best team on the field in 2013. They have started the offseason off on a positive step by hiring Terry Francona as the new manager of the Cleveland Indians. Now will the Indians' front office give their new manager the tools to win?
Contract information provided by mlbtraderumors.com
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