Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona is trying to secretly retire on us. He's been starting to hint at his impending retirement more and more this season, but this quote from an interview last week on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM makes his plans about as plain as day:
"It's time. My body is telling me that, my head is telling me that... I've been pretty clear with the guys I work for and told them to start preparing because it's time."
Assuming he does retire after the season, Francona will end up as the 13th-winningest manager in MLB history, behind Leo Durocher, who had 2,008 wins as a manager.
Francona has, of course, also cemented his legacy in Cleveland, as he's the winningest manager in franchise history. More than that, he's turned the Guardians into one of baseball's most consistently good teams since his tenure began before the 2013 season. That culminated in a run to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series, and while the team hasn't won it all, there's no denying Francona has helped turn the Guardians into one of the premier organizations in baseball, often operating at a distinct disadvantage in terms of payroll.
All of this is to say that the next statue to be erected at Progressive Field is a no-brainer: It has to be of Terry Francona, joining the current crop of Bob Feller, Larry Doby, Frank Robinson, Lou Boudreau, and Jim Thome.
Francona, of course, has a ton of history with the Cleveland organization. His father played for the team for six seasons, spanning 1959 to 1964. So Tito's son Terry essentially grew up with the organization. And then Terry himself played for the then-Indians in 1988, putting together a solid season in which he hit .311/.324/.363 in 222 plate appearances.
Everything came full circle when the two-time World Series-winning manager came back to manage the Indians for the 2013 season, immediately making the playoffs. And while his tenure might ultimately end with a bit of a whimper, Francona is one of the most important people to ever be a part of the storied franchise and the organization should already be thinking of how it can honor him moving forward.
A statue somewhere inside or outside the ballpark is a good start.