The Cleveland Indians began their expected renovations early on Thursday, firing manager Manny Acta with just six games left in the season. Acta was at the helm of a team that currently holds a 67-93 record, and more simply, a mess.
Acta, who managed the Washington Nationals for three years (2007-2009), also managed Cleveland for nearly three years as well, though never did he lead them to a winning season. In fact, he has never managed a team that has finished the regular season with a winning record, period.
So it’s safe to say that he has dealt with some pretty bad clubs, and the Indians of 2012 were just another one of those clubs. With Acta out of the picture, the Indians have to find a new manager to take on their mess.
That will be much easier said than done, but the two early front-runners appear to be former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona and assistant coach Sandy Alomar Jr. whose currently serving as the interim manager. With those two, the Indians have two very worthy candidates with two very different managerial portfolios.
During his eight year tenure with the Sox, Francona was an icon in Boston. He led the Sox to two world champions, but was fired after last year’s September collapse. In spite of his firing, he has a career .529 winning percentage in 12 years at the helm. While Alomar certainly can’t match him in terms of experience, he might be a better fit for an inexperienced Indians’ club.
Francona won’t be craved by just the Indians in the off-season, as an experienced manager like himself is surely to draw some interest. Teams that could be interested in his services include the Toronto Blue Jays could, and possibly the Miami Marlins despite signing current manager Ozzie Guillen to a contract through 2015.
But Cleveland looks to be the best team he has a chance at getting back into managing with. Yes, it’s not best situation in the world, but it’s a clean slate. However, the Indians are about to undergo a lengthy rebuilding process. Does Francona really have the patience for this where as Alomar could begin a new era as a first time manager?
Francona would be a better fit for a contender or a team that’s on the verge of becoming a contending team. The problem for him is that there aren’t many of those types of teams looking for a new manager. But the Indians fit neither of those descriptions, and won’t for at least three years.
Basically, he won’t be winning anything unless he turns them into one of the “surprising teams” such as the Oakland A’s and Baltimore Orioles this year. Don’t rule that out, but the chances of that happening are slim. Plus given his winning track record, Francona could price himself out of the Indians’ budget. As a novice to the managerial ranks, Alomar may be a more affordable option.
Another factor to consider is that Alomar doesn’t have much experience as a manager. Sure he has coached at the Major League level. Managing though is a much different creature. But don’t be mistaken, he’s more than ready to become one according to multiple sources.
He could be the 2013 version of Robin Ventura this year or Mike Matheny. Having experience certainly helps, but some of the better managers in today’s game entered the season with no experience at the helm like the aforementioned Matheny and Ventura.
The thing about those two is the way they manage their players, specifically Ventura. Everyone in the clubhouse respects him. Alomar could fit the same bill seeing that he would be a new face.
Whether the Indians with the experienced Francona or Alomar, the choice isn’t going to make a huge impact because the Indians have bigger problems than their manager. Sure, a new life in the dugout could spark something. But ultimately, roster moves is what’s going to reshape this club for the better.