The Cleveland Indians were lucky to sign Terry Francona back in 2013, and should let the manager coach the team until he decides to call it quits.
The Cleveland Indians had a great thing going when Mike Hargrove was the manager. He won two American League pennants during his tenure in Cleveland, including five straight division titles from 1995-1999.
But apparently that was not good enough, as the lack of a World Series title led to him being let go after 1999.
This led to Charlie Manuel being hired and fired, followed by Eric Wedge and Manny Acta. The first two even took the team to the playoffs, but none could discover the success had by Hargrove. The level of talent was not the same, but there were still plenty of opportunities for a great manager to succeed in Cleveland.
Terry Francona is the manager this team was searching for since 2000. Since being hired in 2013, he has taken the Indians to the postseason twice, including being one win away from a World Series title in 2016.
He already has Hall of Fame credentials, and ending the Indians’ title drought would only add to his already impressive resume.
Francona has proven to be fearless when it comes to taking on baseball norms, illustrated by his bullpen use this past postseason. The way he managed his staff may lead to future managers copying his style, which is good for the game.
He also is able to motivate players both young and old to be their best every game. His time with the Red Sox has given him the credibility to be treated and respected by everyone he encounters.
Francona recently had his option picked up, meaning he is under contract through at least 2020. And unless he decides to make a presidential run, the Indians should keep him in Cleveland beyond 2020.
The Indians are clear favorites in the AL Central for the next few years, given the team can stay healthy. And while anything can happen, it is hard to believe this team won’t be fighting for a playoff spot for the next four seasons.
Given this is the case, and barring any major drop-off in wins, the current front office cannot make the same mistake that happened with Hargrove.
Sometimes, and especially in Cleveland, rash decisions are made regarding head coaches. But there is no need to fire a coach who is leading a successful team. This does not mean the Indians should get complacent if Francona’s team misses the playoffs every year, but if the team loses in the playoffs, it should not entirely fall on his shoulders.
The key for Francona will be to win a World Series before 2020. If he can do that, there is no reason why the team should ever let him go unless he wants to retire. If he cannot do it before then, it may lead to a discussion if he is the man for the job. But as he has proven in his four seasons in Cleveland, he will always give this franchise a great chance to win a championship.