It’s been a week since the Indians dismissed manager Manny Acta, and it looks like either bench coach and interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. or former Red Sox manager Terry Francona (who will interview with the team today) will be his replacement. The front office has made it clear that they’re hoping to make a decision sooner rather than later.
In this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, we asked our panelists: Who should the Indians’ next manager be? Joining us this week are guest contributors Steve Eby from Did The Tribe Win Last Night?, Craig Lyndall from WaitingForNextYear, and Jim Piascik from Indians Prospect Insider.
Steve Eby: The two obvious candidates are interim manager Sandy Alomar and former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona. I do believe that one of these two will get the job, and my guess is that they will go with Alomar. Sandy is an important part of the organization and has a strong relationship with the front office, the players, the fans, the clubhouse attendants, the hot dog vendors, and so on.
But what if they go with someone else? Is there a dark horse candidate that nobody is talking about? Our site has already endorsed Ryne Sandberg and Dave Martinez as strong options, but I’d like to throw another name into the mix…Tony Pena. Pena is obviously a former Indian catcher, like Alomar, but has managerial experience. He turned around a young Kansas City team and won the American League Manager of the Year award in 2003. He has been serving as the bench coach of the Yankees for the past four seasons, so he has played a large role for a marquee franchise and a World Series winner.
Finally, Pena manages with fire which is something that the Indians have certainly lacked in a manager for decades. Smart money says it will be Alomar or Francona, but Pena is certainly a decent option too.
Craig Lyndall: I’ve wrestled with this one over the last couple of weeks. On the one hand, I do think Sandy Alomar could be a great manager and would love to find out in Cleveland. On the other hand, I’ve railed against the team for not hiring legitimate, in-demand candidates for the job in the past.
After weighing both of those things carefully, I’ll say Sandy Alomar probably. I haven’t interviewed the guy, but if he shows any kind of real hunger and intensity for wanting this job, I can’t say no to him. I’ve believed in Alomar as a manager candidate since his playing days. I just can’t bear the thought of him being that manager somewhere else.
Jim Piascik: Despite the sentimental boost hiring Sandy Alomar Jr. would provide, Terry Francona should be the Indians’ manager in 2013. By this point, I have heard plenty about the beer and fried chicken Red Sox meltdown, but I really don’t buy that it is actually a big deal. The team was doing that sort of thing in 2004 and look where it got them.
Hiring Francona would be a step in the right direction for the Tribe, one where they do go out and get the best guy available. Now, a manager will not turn around the whole team, but hiring someone with Francona’s pedigree and ability will help turn this team around. He’s a players manager and his presence may actually help the Indians reel in the Carlos Beltrans and Carlos Penas that turned them down this past offseason.
Evan Vogel: The Indians manager needs to be someone who has fire, a person who can motivate a club when desperation becomes apparent. Since Sandy Alomar, Jr. was the bench coach and a member of the club during this disastrous season, he does not meet that requirement. Terry Francona is rumored as another choice for the job, but his successful tenure with the Boston Red Sox collapsed under a lack of leadership and one of the biggest meltdowns in the history of baseball in 2011.
The perfect manager for the Cleveland Indians would be someone like Lou Piniella; however, he isn’t coming back after retiring. I’m still not sure why Ryne Sandberg has not had an opportunity to manage at the major league level, as he has been successful throughout his tenure in the minor leagues. As a player with a lot of success in Chicago, another large, midwest town, he could definitely handle the smaller market of Cleveland, while bringing a tremendous amount of managerial experience to the table.
I feel that Sandy Alomar, Jr. will eventually win the job, though. He has a number of years working with the Indians, he is beloved by the fans, and experience doesn’t mean much with the success of Mike Matheny in St. Louis and Robin Ventura in Chicago.
Brian Heise: I’m going out on a limb here and I’m going to say Sandy Alomar should be the manager in 2013. Something about the move just feels right to me. That’s not to say I wouldn’t love Terry Francona, but I just don’t see how someone who won two World Series in Boston with a billion dollars in payroll would want to work for the fiscally conservative Indians. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I’m a bit too worried Francona’s hiring could possibly be a cash grab.
For Alomar, this would be his first managerial job after being turned down for a number of other jobs last season. He would be motivated to show everyone else in baseball that he was deserving of a manager’s job. He’s also young, recently out of the game, and would command a great deal of respect from the team as someone who has been through the grinder that is playing in Cleveland. Again, that’s not that Francona’s resume isn’t impressive, he won not one, but two championships in Boston for crying out loud, but something about Alomar just seems more right to me.
Regardless, if the Indians hire either Alomar or Francona they should be in good hands for years to come.
Lewie Pollis: The fan in me would love to see Sandy Alomar win the manager’s job. My formative baseball years were in preschool, and that was exactly when Alomar was a key piece in some of the greatest Indians teams of all time. Save for Omar Vizquel, Kenny Lofton, or Jim Thome, there’s no one besides Alomar who would give me such joy to see running the clubhouse every day.
That said, there’s a reason baseball teams are constructed with stats and scouting and not fan sentimentality. Alomar would probably be a good manager, but Terry Francona is one for sure. Francona doesn’t deserve full credit for the two World Series he won with the Red Sox—that was more about the players he had to work with—but by all accounts he did quite well for himself (aside from the exaggerated clubhouse issues in 2011).
If Francona is within the Tribe’s price range, it would seem like the low profile and even lower expectations in Cleveland would be a nice contrast to the media circus of Boston. He’s probably the better choice.