Two weeks ago marked the anniversary of the hiring of manager Terry Francona, whose return to the Indians organization was formally announced on October 6, 2012. He took over for interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., who has remained on his staff throughout Francona’s tenure.
As Francona enters year eight at the helm in Cleveland, he still looks like the right man for the job, even with his flaws and occasional suspect moves on the diamond. Few have had the success that he has in the Cleveland dugout, and few around the game today can claim the resume that he has built over 19 years of big league managerial work. That body of work is why he is one of the longest tenured skippers currently at work.
Sometimes you have to take a step back and wait a few days before assessing situations. In this case, I needed a little more than that (but certainly not three weeks…) to reflect on the ups and downs of the Cleveland Indians’ 2019 season. (I also wasn’t helped any by an unrelenting work schedule for the job that pays the bills.)
A year that was expected by many to be a cake walk to a fourth straight divisional title turned into anything but as the Tribe had to fight all the way down to the wire in pursuit of a playoff spot, a battle the team ultimately fell short of in a disappointing end to a 162-game grind. The team managed to win 93 games (which given the hurdles of the year seems all the more impressive), but its inability to beat up better on some lesser opponents coupled with a slew of injuries did little to aid its cause as the Indians finished eight games in back of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central and three games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the final AL Wild Card spot. The 93 wins tied the second-highest win total posted by an Indians club which failed to make the playoffs (see the 1921 Tribe club which went 94-60 in its title defense but finished four and a half in back of the New York Yankees in the AL).
Cleveland’s Chris Antonetti shared with the media on Wednesday that the Indians will pick up the team option on right-hander Corey Kluber, bringing him back for the 2020 season.