How Long Can the Tribe Hold on to Sandy?
Vince Guerrieri | On 07, Oct 2015
He came to Cleveland in a blockbuster trade, played the bulk of his career here as part of those great teams in the 1990s, and the entirety of his coaching and managing career was here.
But as another Indians season ends, you can’t help but wonder: How long can Sandy Alomar Jr. stay with the Indians?
Almost since the time he rejoined the Indians coaching staff, he’s been good for one or two interviews each off-season – and his name has already been linked to the opening in San Diego (the Padres will not be retaining Pat Murphy, who became interim manager after Bud Black – another former Indian – was fired in June).
After Alomar’s playing career ended with the Mets in 2007, he became an instructor for catchers for that team. And it appeared that he was going to stay in Queens despite entreaties by the Indians, who hired Manny Acta to be the team’s manager following the 2009 season and wanted to interview Alomar for a coaching position.
The Mets denied the Indians an interview, and Omar Minaya, then the general manager of the Mets, was most emphatic in his insistence that Alomar would remain in New York. But Alomar persisted in asking for the interview. Minaya granted it, and Alomar rejoined the team for which he made six All-Star game appearances – including winning the Midsummer Classic MVP award in front of the home fans at Jacobs Field in 1997.
After a 20-year playing career, Alomar was committed to coaching, and didn’t rule out becoming a manager. It didn’t take long before teams were interested. After the 2010 season, he interviewed in Toronto. That job went to John Gibbons. The following year, he interviewed for the vacant Red Sox and Cubs jobs (oddly enough, both those jobs have turned over at least twice). The Cubs hired Dale Sveum instead of Alomar. Sveum managed at Wrigley for two years before being replaced by Rick Renteria, who lasted a year before the opportunity to hire Joe Maddon presented itself. The Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine, who flamed out after a year. He was replaced by a former Indians teammate of Alomar’s, John Farrell).
With six games remaining in the 2012 season, Manny Acta was fired. Alomar stepped in as interim manager, guiding the Indians to a 3-3 record (the team finished 68-94, including 24 losses in August, tying a team record – one of the reasons Acta was fired).
Alomar interviewed for the vacant Indians job – and by some accounts probably would have gotten it if Terry Francona wasn’t interested in the position. Francona departed acrimoniously from Boston (Alomar’s job interview with the Red Sox was to fill the position vacated by Francona) and wanted to get back to managing. Francona and Alomar were the only candidates interviewed by the team, and Chris Antonetti, then Indians general manager, said it was a difficult decision. They ultimately opted for Francona, but Antonetti said “In the near term, I think (Sandy’s) going to go out and be a very, very good Major League manager.”
Alomar has remained on the Indians’ coaching staff since then. In 2014, he was mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant Twins and Diamondbacks jobs, but returned to the Indians.
And now managing jobs are starting to open up. The Nationals fired Matt Williams (another former Indians teammate). Miami announced on Tuesday that Marlins manager Dan Jennings will reassume the general manager role that he held prior to the firing of Mike Redmond, another former Indians player, early in the 2015 season.
San Diego’s the only other job that might have anything resembling the pull of home that Cleveland does for Alomar. The Padres drafted him, and he did play for them in brief call-ups in 1988 and 1989 (at the time, his brother Roberto was also in San Diego, and their father, Sandy Sr., was a coach).
Of course, the question also remains if Alomar is the manager-in-waiting in Cleveland. Francona was given a two-year extension after the 2014 season, and he’s under contract with the Indians through at least 2018 (the team also holds two years of club options).
In an interview at the end of 2011, when Alomar was mentioned as a potential candidate for the White Sox job (he lived in Chicago, and played for the White Sox for parts of five seasons), he said he’d consider the right managing job, “but my heart is in Cleveland.”
But how long until someone else makes him the proverbial offer he can’t refuse?