Francona Figures to Give Youngsters a Shot

The big hullabaloo about the out clause in new Indians’ manager Terry Francona’s contract if team president Mark Shapiro and/or GM Chris Antonetti are no longer with the organization is another case of people making more out of something than there actually is.

The fact is if Shapiro were to be let go and another president was named, the new guy would want to hire his own GM, and that GM would want to hire his own skipper.

The thing no one brings up is that they may hire someone Francona is very comfortable working with and he would stay on anyway.

That all said, you have to love the aggressiveness of Shapiro and Antonetti, even those who have been highly critical of the Tribe front office.

Francona has instant credibility, with two World Series championships to his credit.  And for those who point out the Red Sox’ high payroll in those years, there are plenty of large market teams paying players huge dollars who aren’t winning World Series.

Shapiro is said to be very respected within the game, and that respect and friendship with the former Boston manager led to his hire.

The Indians organization desperately needs the opinion of an outsider, particularly one connected with a winning franchise.  Terry Francona provides just that.

Another plus is the new managers success in breaking young players into the major leagues.  Much has been made of “Tito” giving breaks to players such as Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jon Lester, but even in Philadelphia, he made everyday players out of Scott Rolen, Mike Lieberthal, Bobby Abreu, and Pat Burrell.

Contrast that to previous managers who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to play young players, preferring marginal veterans instead.

While it is true those players were highly regarded in the minor leagues, save for Youkilis, only Rolen, Ellsbury, and Burrell were ranked in the top 20 prospects in the game.

You have to believe that Lonnie Chisenhall has to feel good about being the everyday third baseman for the 2013 Indians.

With his resume, you have to believe Francona will not hesitate to challenge the front office’s opinions on certain players.  He knows and understands what it takes to win in the major leagues and will make sure everyone wearing a uniform understands that winning is important.

His career winning percentage, including when he was in Philadelphia is .519.  Compare that to Manny Acta’s record of .418.  Remember, managers get paid to win ballgames.

He likely will bring in a new coaching staff as well, although Sandy Alomar Jr. may return as bench coach, and that’s because Francona and Alomar are former teammates and the new skipper wants him.

That means a new hitting coach with a different perspective, a new pitching coach that will no doubt emphasize throwing strikes, and an entirely new way of looking at the game in total.  A winning way of looking at it.

Last year, when the Arizona Diamondbacks surprised and won the NL West title, a look at their manager and coaches showed Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell, Matt Williams, and Charles Nagy, all players who spent most of their career on winning team.

That rubs off on young players, and it wouldn’t be a shock if Francona did something similar and bring in proven winners to teach his new club.

The guess here is we’ve heard the last excuse made by the Indians’ field manager in a very long time.




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