The Indians entered this season as favorites by many, but things fell apart early. A late-season resurgence salvaged the season and possibly Francona’s job
With important pieces moving around within the Cleveland Indians organization–namely Mark Shapiro leaving to take the GM position in Toronto–some began wondering if that signaled the end for Terry Francona. A minority of fans thought Francona might use his “out clause”–similar to what Joe Maddon did in leaving the Rays to join the Cubs–while others pointed to the fact new GM’s generally like to have “their guy”.
At that time, the Indians appeared to be out of the race and talk was shifting to what would happen in the offseason. But the Tribe continued to play solid baseball while those around them scuffled. The Indians may be running out of time, but did this run help save Francona’s job? I think it may have.
Shapiro did his best to clear out the “bad contract” of the Indians before he left, opening up doors for some of the young talent to make its way to Cleveland. Tito has been a “veteran’s” manager. He likes the guys with experience and has generally let them police themselves. Towards the end in Boston that didn’t work out well, but it didn’t cost him his job as he chose to leave Boston.
Francona has taken a group of untested rookies and kept the Indians in the race until the final days. He’s done it without ever truly having a full rotation–which was thought to be the Indians strongest suit–and up until the end of July a group of highly-paid free agents who were highly under-performing.
Add to that the first-half All-Star Jason Kipnis has been a shell of his former self after injury, and some wonder if he returned from the injury too soon (Sound familiar?). Even with last night’s 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins, time is running out. Michael Brantley is banged up as well and the Indians are trying to hold it together.
But even with all that, a season that was considered “lost” by many has had its hidden blessings. Francisco Lindor and his march to the AL Rookie of the Year, Josh Tomlin‘s resurrection, the find of Abraham Almonte, and the re-invention of Lonnie Chisenhall. These have become just a few of the reasons why Francona should have no fear of his job security as the Tribe hope to bounce back in 2016.