Tito’s rumored retirement may give Cleveland a Wedgie; a tough Acta to follow

Terry, we hardly knew ye…

With his history of health issues, we’ve known for some time that Guardians manager Terry Francona’s retirement would one day become reality. Unfortunately for Cleveland baseball fans, that day seems imminent.

Terry Francona was perfect for Cleveland, and a perfect fit for the low-budget ownership group led by Paul Dolan. “Tito” knew how to squeeze every ounce of talent from each player on his roster, and his evaluation of talent – who should remain in Cleveland and who should be dealt – was nothing short of incredible.

Quick now: Looking back over the last dozen years, how many transactions has the franchise made that you wish they hadn’t? You’ll be hard-pressed to find any of significance. From my perspective, every deal they made that I questioned at the time proved to be a wise move, and with a “fiscally cautious” organization such as the Guardians, they simply cannot afford any personnel errors. They simply cannot. If Cleveland hires the wrong guy and subsequently make erroneous player transactions based on the input from the new manager, it could take quite some time to recover.

A case in point would be Eric Wedge, who was the manager from 2003 through 2009. Wedge had a tough-as-nails philosophy, with a “my way or the highway” approach.

During his tenure, Wedge had a young second baseman named Brandon Phillips. I don’t recall the circumstances, but Phillips fell out of favor with Wedge, who wasn’t big on second chances if you didn’t toe the line.

Wedge wanted him out, management complied with his wishes, and Phillips had an All-Star career down in Cincinnati for a decade and a half. Little surprise that Wedge’s managerial record here was sub-.500.

Manny Acta followed Wedge and proved to be a real mistake. He had been canned as manager of the Astros after zero success in Houston, so all I can figure is he must interview very well, as I was surprised when he got the Cleveland job.

Acta was given three years in Cleveland to prove the lack of success with the Astros was no fluke, and he proved to be the picture of consistency, averaging 71 wins a year here before getting the ax.

Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver said, many years ago, that a good manager may win you a few more games due to their managerial skills, but a bad manager can lose you many more. (Cue Manny Acta.)

So, who succeeds Tito? (For the record, I suspect they already have made their decision.) It seems the popular choice right now is Tito’s right-hand man, DeMarlo Hale.

I hope not, as he’s almost as old (62) as Tito (64) and even though he’s supposed to be a sound baseball man, he seems to lack the energy and personality that Tito brought to the table. Players need to "buy in" to what the manager is selling, and I'm not sure Hale can sell it.

My choice is Sandy Alomar. He’s paid his dues and deserves a shot. Although he’s interviewed with other teams and not been hired, it doesn’t mean he’s not qualified. Remember that Tito was fired from Boston before coming to Cleveland with some questionable “baggage.” Let’s see if Sandy can do the job.

There are far more lousy managers out there than there are good ones, so the odds are already stacked against Cleveland hiring two consecutive good managers. But in this city they cannot afford to not get this right. They simply must get it right.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!

Read More on Sporting Views
Volume 15, Issue 17, Posted 9:18 AM, 09.19.2023