Francona to the Orioles?
OK, this subject is inevitable. So I might as well get out in front of it.
I don’t see it happening for several reasons.
Terry Francona, who led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles and a .574 winning percentage in eight big league seasons, is expected to part ways with the Red Sox today after their monumental September choke.
The Orioles will have a managerial spot open if Andy MacPhail leaves his spot as president of baseball operations (which is expected) and manager Buck Showalter moves up to that post (which is possible but not set yet).
Francona is obviously very familiar with both the Orioles and Showalter. Francona interviewed with the Orioles after the 2003 season for the job that eventually went to Lee Mazzilli.
But it just doesn’t seem like a fit this time around.
First, it’s hard to imagine two strong personalities like Showalter and Francona co-existing. The Red Sox and Orioles have clashed plenty this year, and those two competitive men were in the middle of most of the conflicts – as you’d expect with managers.
Secondly, Francona is walking away from $4.5 million options with Boston. There’s no way the Orioles would pay him close to that sum, especially with Showalter reportedly making a third of that.
Third, Francona looks destined to change Sox and end up in Chicago, which has an opening with the departure of Ozzie Guillen. Francona managed in the White Sox system previously, and they’re big-market enough to handle his salary demands.
And let’s not forget that the Orioles are not a desirable landing spot right now for a new skipper accustomed to winning, especially if the boss ends up being a guy who is a successful former manager – those are pretty big shoes to fill, and the ego will have to be checked at the door.
So I say it almost certainly won’t happen. I give it 5 percent, tops.
But let me add one more thing: There is precedent here. The Orioles and Angelos scooped up respected manager Mike Hargrove before the 2000 season when Cleveland canned him because his talented Indians squad didn’t go further in the postseason.
That was then. I don’t see history repeating itself – at least not with Francona.
Although I guess you can never say never.