Is it time for longtime Cleveland Indians catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. to take over in 2022?
In light of Terry Francona stepping down from the Cleveland Indians managerial role for the remainder of the season, the question is once again coming up about Francona’s position with the club moving forward. Stepping away from the season means that there is still a plan for Francona to come back, but how long can this continue?
This is the second straight season that Francona will miss a large portion of the season. Last year, he missed 46 games, accounting for nearly 77% of the shortened 60-game season. Now this year, he’s set to miss the last two full months. Considering that all of this is health related and Francona is one of the oldest managers in the game at 62-years old, it might be time to look to the future.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Terry Francona has been a huge part of the continued success of the Cleveland Indians. This marks his ninth season with the organization and he’s yet to have a losing campaign. He’s collected two Manager of the Year awards and a World Series appearance. However, this could be the right time to make a change.
The Cleveland Indians will change to the Cleveland Guardians at the start of the 2022 season. The uniforms will sustain minor alterations and parts of Progressive Field will be updated over the next handful of years. The roster is in the process of being turned over to the next wave of players and it almost seems like a completely clean slate for Cleveland baseball. One change that should come with that is a new manager.
Again, Francona shouldn’t be “fired.” That’s not what we’re saying. Perhaps transitioning him into a front office role or as a consultant type is the route to go, but keeping him in the dugout doesn’t seem like the best option for any party involved. Luckily, there’s a clear answer in-house that has been waiting for this opportunity. Sandy Alomar Jr.
A longtime catcher for the Tribe, Alomar has been a part of the Cleveland coaching staff since 2009, long before even Francona arrived. Manny Acta first hired Alomar as the first base coach and he’s been around ever since. In 2010 he was even rumored to be a finalist for the Toronto Blue Jays manager job that ended up going to John Farrell.
In 2011, Alomar was again rumored to be a candidate for manager jobs for the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, a position that was previously helmed by Terry Francona. Instead, he remained in Cleveland and was promoted to bench coach ahead of the 2012 season.
Being that 2012 was season Acta was fired, Alomar became the interim for the final six games, going 3-3 and closing out the most recent losing season for the club. When the Tribe hired Francona, Tito elected to keep Alomar on staff, placing him back at his natural first base coach spot after the 2013 season when the team hired Brad Mills to be the bench coach.
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That’s been Alomar’s home since. However, the 2020 season was a new opportunity. With bench coach Brad Mills opting out of the 2020 season and Francona having health issues, it was Alomar that stepped up to lead the Tribe, and he did a pretty good job. Leading the team for 46 games, Cleveland went 28-18 (.609) under Alomar’s watch and made it to the Wild Card Series.
At that point it was already rumored that Alomar was being groomed to take over in the near future. The return of Francona to the bench paused those rumors, but here we are again, a year later, saying the exact same thing.
This time, it’s DeMarlo Hale acting as the interim manager, but given Alomar’s long tenure with the club and chemistry with the roster it seems like he would have first crack at being the first manager of the Cleveland Guardians.
Once again, let me say that we aren’t calling for Francona to be fired. He’s been the key to all of Cleveland’s success, but it’s becoming clear that he might need a new role. The organization is entering into a new era in 2022 and it seems like the best time to just start over in more ways than one. That should include the promotion of Sandy Alomar Jr. to be the next manager.