The hiring of Terry Francona as manager of the Cleveland Indians was the most important move of their off-season, even more important than the Shin-Soo Choo trade and the Nick Swisher signing. It was apparent at the end of the 2012 season that Cleveland was not a preferred destination for free agents and was becoming a popular choice for no-trade lists of young stars like Justin Upton. The Indians can greatly rehabilitate their image with this hiring.
Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonelli was able to leverage their relationship with Francona when he worked in the Indians’ front office between managing the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox. This move is different than trades or signings since the impact of most moves can be quantified. For example, the Indians lost approximately three wins above replacement when they traded away Choo and they are hoping to regain that with the acquisitions of Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs.There is no accepted method of measuring the impact of a manager. Francona has been praised for winning World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007. He has also been criticized for the historic September collapse in September, 2011.
The one thing the Indians have gained from Francona is credibility. He has already been credited with helping the Indians sign Swisher and has drawn raves from players who say he has kept in contact with them throughout the off-season. This is a positive that may not directly be tied into more wins but the ability for the Indians to be able to better compete for mid to top market free agents is a big positive. He seems to have a clear plan on how to approach a season and has a method of communicating with players. He had a very diverse set of characters with both Philadelphia and Boston and overall has a positive reputation. He also brings instant on-field credibility in that he can reference his two World Series wins when explaining strategy and giving players advice on how to improve.
Overall I’m a big fan of this hiring as they have hired someone who has a good reputation with tactics and with player relations. What do you think about the Francona hiring? Leave a comment below so we can hear your thoughts.