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September 30, 2011

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.

Posted by Dan Connolly at 11:07 AM | | Comments (52)


I hope Buck manages at least the next 2 seasons. If he goes upstairs, i want Rick Dempsey to field manage.

i would say it is 0% of terry francona becomming manager of the orioles. i would say it is out & out dream land. for the orioles to get any experienced person as gm or even manager is very slim. everything might be honky dory with peter the great and showalter now,but if he becoes gm,the honymoon will end very quickly.

Even if the O's need a new manager, I wouldn't want him. It now appears that Francona's claiming that a clubhouse chemistry schizm contributed to his team's epic derailment. I saw an interview the other day, amidst the cavalcade of "blame gaming" going on up in Boston, wherein he raised this issue by stating the he saw unspecified problems developing within his team at the beginning of September.

If true, that is very disturbing revelation. If he saw something, it appears that he he did nothing to curb or stop it (at least I left his interview without the impression that he ever attempted to correct the problem). At the very least, his response shows a severe lack of character and/or accountability for his role as the sinking ship's "captain." Let Chicago have him and the drama.

Good thing you got out in front on this one, I was waiting for the rumors to start. While it’s true that Francona is a very talented manager. We did pass him up in the past (yet another one of the many major mistakes we’ve made over the past 14 years) so he may be willing to come. The chance to prove to one’s old team that you’re still as good as you ever were is a common feeling among those people that put on a new uniform. I’m holding out hope that we hear more about Chuck LaMar as either GM or scouting director. Would anyone really be that upset if Francona came onboard with Showalter as GM?
Truth is that this isn’t fantasy baseball. We can’t just go out and get each person we want because of what they did elsewhere. Personalities do clash. Francona may be willing to set the previous trash talking aside since it can be part of a manager’s job. Getting both him and Showalter to stay out of each other’s business may be an issue. Unless you know both of them personally and can speak to what their relationship is like personally, you’re not even making an educated guess. That job with the White Sox is probably an easier one, the talent is there and grown. The division has diversity at the top, unlike the AL East which is a 3 team division with Toronto and Baltimore as feeder teams for the big boys. The Cubs may be as bad off as the Orioles are, so I don’t know what they would offer that Baltimore doesn’t. Francona is going to want to win, and win now. He may return any phone calls that are made from the warehouse and possibly hear what there is to say, I doubt that he’d come here.
I’d say 5% chance is about right. About the odds of the Red Sox not making the postseason after the way it looked in early September.

Francona had a .440 winning percentage in 4 seasons with Philly.

In my opinion, he's a Joe Torre type...a good ego manager who sits back and lets the big boys play ball. I don't think he would do well with a young roster. Showalter needs to go mining for a Kirk Gibson-Joe Girardi-Mike Scioscia type. An under the rader, old school guy who stresses fundamentals and respect for the game, and gets the most production out of a young/mediocre roster.

Dan, I give this better then a 5% percent chance. In fact, I will give this a Tony Kornheiser 95% chance that Francona comes to the O’s. Also, I totally disagree with statement First, it’s hard to imagine two strong personalities like Showalter and Francona co-existing. I hear rumors of Showalter’s personality, but I have yet to have seen it for myself. As for Francona, he has to be one of the mildest mannered managers I have seen to date. Now if the Orioles were interested in bringing in someone like Larry Bowa. Then I would agree with you about coexistence. The other thing is Showalter as GM; I am not sure if I am too excited about that, he would definitely need an assistant or two. One assistant would have to know contracts and the other a good eye for talent. I could help with the eye for talent, hahahaha. Seriously, though hiring Francona might be a good idea, if not an excellent one. He’s a better manager then I gave him credit. It’s getting interesting that’s for sure!
PS You looked good out there the other night for the MVO ceremony, don’t let anyone tell you different. Also, an associate of mine texted me that he thought Francona could be joining the O’s very soon.

Trust me, Lefty. You are in left field on this one. And don't let Francona's arm-crossed posture in the dugout fool you. He has a very strong personality.

If Francona can't win with Boston's payroll, why would we possibly want hime here?

I feel there's a portion of this post that's a bit misleading. It implies that Francona's salary would be far above what the O's are willing to pay, but doesn't mention that his salary is ALSO FAR ABOVE what the White Sox were paying Ozzie. Let's not inflame the readers by not painting the full picture.

I think Francona is someone the O's have to think about. He has a tremendous track record, can handle diverse personalities and would be a free agent magnet in a city that desperately needs one. Add this to the fact he is AL East battle-tested and you have a very strong candidate INMO ...

We should just let the batboy manage and allocate those millions to an overhaul of scouting and player development. This team's fortunes will not change until the players in our farm system routinely reach their potential (whatever that potential may be). We could have a manager/coach roster of Earl Weaver, Connie Mack, Sparky Anderson, the genie from Aladdin, whoever. But until our scouting and player development operations ascend from the depths they now occupy (pretty much a place of nonexistence) it won't matter who is coaching.

It has been over 30 years since we drafted a player who would go on to hit 25 HR for us (Cal and Larry Sheets in 1978, and forget about an international free agent signing, because we don't do that. I'm sure the single season HR record for one of those, for the O's, is in the single digits). Beyond pathetic, and it's unreasonable to believe that none of our subsequent draftees had the capability to do it. It's an issue of what's happening to them when they get here.

So let the Oriole Bird manage, or a rotating stable of fans, or the kid who sprints from the bullpen. I'm sure they'd be good for at least 60 wins.

And spend the savings on helping our farm players reach their potential and show up the bigs ready to play.

With some of the rumors coming out of Boston about Francona not having full control over his clubhouse and players I would think he would be last on our list if Buck moves upstairs.

I think that the chances of Epstein coming here are greater than the chances of Francona coming here. I don't think Showalter is ready to move out of the dugout as I think still has too much passion for the game as it's played on the field. Additionally, he now has a pretty good core of players that he's comfortable with and who do thins the way he wants them done...that is compete everyday! Eventually I can see him moving upstairs, but right now I think he feels that he can have the most impact by managing the team. He'll need to have a GM that sees things the same way he does and who knows his way around player development, talent evaluation and how to negotiate for top quality free agents.

how about scoscia? might he be ready for a new challenge?

We should hire Cal to come coach us.

Too Confusing for TIto to come here -- He'd have his pitchers throwing at their own batters.

Dempsey may work with Buck upstairs. What happened to the Willie Randolph rumors?

I never started those.

Francona might be the right guy to manage the Orioles if they triple the payroll and fill it up with prima donnas. He knows how to stay out of their way, which he did a little too much of down the stretch.

But Peter Angelos is not going to make that type of capital investment on the baseball team, especially when he can spend tens of millions of dollars getting buildings named after his parents. The longer this drags out the more underwhelmed I am becoming. My expectations have been reduced just to getting rid of Andy Macphail. According to the Boston Press, Theo Epstein is available as far as they are concerned, along with Francona. They are determined to run both of them out of town.

As Kevin Cowherd said, it's another rebuilding program ahead, and the slogan will be "Come see what the wrecking ball did."

"’s hard to imagine two strong personalities like Showalter and Francona co-existing."
And Theo Epstein isn't a strong personality?

Overall, I'm in agreement with your assessment, Dan, but wonder about that one.

Speaking of Epstein, I wonder who really shoulders more blame in Boston's collapse, Tito or Theo. Which of them was more adamant about signing John Lackey and Carl Crawford, two major busts for the team? (Even there, I'm not sure there should be blame hurled at either of them for wanting players who were All Stars on other teams.)


Theo wasn't a manager previously. That would add to the dynamic here.

Hmmmm. Not so long ago we were buzzing about Showalter's record of turning teams around in his second full season at the helm.

Let's let him have a 2nd full season at the helm right here in Birdland.

Look Dan, we could argue all day about the personality issues here; however the bottom line is if everyone in "Birdland" is as relentless about winning as they say they are. Showalter, Francona, Angelos, players, right down to the ticket takers will just simply have to coexist in order to "Win" and figure out how to do so. As a side note, it’s my opinion that it was Epstein that didn’t know what he was doing, not Francona.

Not to defend Francona or weigh in on the possibility of him coming here, but it's pretty strange to hear a 90-72 season being discussed as a disaster.

Yes, I understand it was a significant collapse, but many O's fans were giddy after the team's strong finish this season that ultimately left us with 21 fewer wins than Boston.

I guess expectations (& a $200 million payroll) are everything.

If Showalter moves to the GM position, Francona would be a decent option. He's obviously had a lot of success, I think it just got to the point in Boston where he'd gotten stale, similar to what happened in NY with Joe Torre. He needs a change of scenery but I do agree he will likely end up in Chicago. They're closer to competing for a division title than we are now.

I'm not exactly sure who we'd hire as long as we don't hire within the organization. We should now by now that will set us up for failure.

Let's not forget that there is a soon to be free agent living in Baltimore that has made no secret of his desire to become part of management. The Iron Man's son graduates in June and having him and Buck in the same front office might not be the best scenario. Certainly Mr. Angelos realizes that this would go a long way in restoring some credibility among the dwindling Oriole faithful so this will, I believe, happen. So, what do you do with two men who might want the same job? I can't see either of them being a GM to the other as President of Baseball Operations. But, what if Buck does join the front office? I'd have to think that one of his coaches, handpicked by Buck himself, would have the first shot of managing the club and thus another new manager.

Obviously there are many components to this or the decision would have been disclosed already. Interesting to say the least.

While I agree that its unlikely that Francona comes to the Orioles, I think two of your points may be incorrect. For one, it's not as though Francona is turning down money and quitting Boston in a huff; by most indications, it sounds like he's just not being brought back. So the idea of him settling for less than what he'd make in Boston is kind of irrelevant; that money wasn't on the table in the first place. Secondly, numerous writers are saying that Francona to the White Sox is hardly a sure thing, and some are saying its unlikely. Danny Knobler and Jon Heyman are both saying he's not near the top of their wishlist.

I would not mind some fresh blood infused into the Orioles' organization - heck if we could find a way to bring Billy Beane to town I would be all for it. But if this truly Andy's last stand in Baltimore I want everyone to see in plain view how he has truly helped this ball club moving forward. Keep in mind we still have MAJOR fundamental flaws (international scouting, player development) and the blame for those major flaws should be placed on the Owner, the GM, and others - it is not solely the GMs fault for the fact this organization (the ground up) has been a joke

JJ Hardy (seriously, what a find - hey Wayne, feeling good about him yet?)
Reynolds - Don't care what anyone says about this kid - he'll play decent 1B and put up Albert Belle power numbers. I'll deal with the K's
Davis - may or may not be a fixture on the roster but it's good to have options
Adam Jones - Yeah, who won that trade? Still have Tillman too who unfortunately is a total bust
Tejada Trade - who won THAT one? I think Patton is going to be rock solid next year, and Luke Scott has done enough while here; don't care he does/doesn't come back

Strop - 8th inning guy
Hunter - 4th or 5th starter (if we can land 2 good FA)

Anyone I missed? Peter it is your turn. Give the new GM some $$$$ and let's go get a Prince-esque player!

For all of the people that want Cal to be GM- just remember that Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky are HORRIBLE as executives. Just because Cal knows the game and loves the O's does not mean he'd be a good GM. Maybe field manager, MAYBE. But I can't see him wanting to do it.

Sure there's a chance that he's actually very good, like Nolan Ryan, but what if he isn't? It creates an impossible situation for the organization. I mean once you hire him you're stuck, how can you fire Cal Ripken in Baltimore? It would be a nightmare.

Don't get me wrong, I'm the biggest Cal fan out there. I just do not believe it's a good idea. Being a good player has nothing at all to do with being a GM. Theo Epstein didn't even play high school baseball.

Seems to me that we have given anyone who has ever had anything to do with the Orioles the chance to manage except for Rick Dempsey, whom I believe to be the best - and perhaps the only - man who could do it really well.

Now let's be clear that we may as well pick me to manage (assuming the money is right!) if nothing is done to overhaul the scouting and player development departments.

But if Buck moves upstairs, Demper is the one we want on the field. Yes, you'll have those two strong personalities that nobody seems to want, but there is a difference between strong two personalities who can work together and hash things out for the good of the team and two strong personalities that are always at odds and allow ego to get in the way.

Also, the last thing you want is one strong personality and one sycophant. Seems to me that Mr. Angelos probably has enough yes-men around him without bringing it to the baseball team.

Francona ??!!! I'm laughing. Oh sure, he's a winning manager. Who wouldn't be a winning manager with a $150 million pay roll & a farm system? He wouldn't know what to do with $60 million team with no farm system. This team needs a humble guy who will listen attentively to Showalter and manage w/ Showalter's values......Willie Randolph

It makes no sense for Showalter to move upstairs and out of the dugout. His most valuable position is a manager of this team. He's really only been in the dugout for a season + two months.

He has essentially no experience as a GM, certainly no more than every other person who has managed a baseball team in the past 150 years. I don't get why people think he would be an instant success.

It's like when people jump up and down looking to bring Cal into the front office, as if he's some stellar front-office guy who has built championship teams.

He built a nice stadium in Aberdeen, yes. He had a wonderul career here in Baltimore. But just because he's from the area does not mean he's a good choice to run the team. Let's expand the focus beyond "people from Baltimore", okay?

Moving Buck to the front office further weakens this team. We will get a lesser manager, and have a "general manager" (or whatever title Angelos chooses to saddle him with) with no experience, relying on "aides" to help with contracts and such.

It makes so little sense, it's almost a reverse lock for it to happen. And if Buck does move into the GM role, Francona's odds soar far above that 5% chance you quoted, Dan.

What about the Cubs? They have Red Sox money and, well, an approproate level of failure (pre.2003). Francona might be the perfect fit.

we need the pitchers and prince first then the orioles will look more attractive to any coaches , beside buck and terry both love winning iam sure with the talen the % goes up to 50/50 . i would love to see terry go up against the sox and will also make those games sellouts

The truth is, it has been the immense talent of the Boston Red Sox which has kept them in contention over the past decade or so.
Their manager could have been Dave Trembley during that time and they'd have still been constant contenders and won two championships.

Francona is a servicable manager.... but I see nothing special about him.
Let the White Sox have him and let's find someone from within the Oriole family to manage the team. Like Dempsey, Bordick, or Surhoff.

O's fan in CA,

Andy did nothing to "move the team forward." If that is all you can come up with after he had over 4 years to make the team competitive, that's pretty sad.

It's all about wins and losses. Didn't Andy say that was what 2010 was supposed to be about? Andy was a 4 year disaster and his "grow the arms and buy the bats" philosophy was just a slogan the way he implemented it. This team goes into 2012 with more questions than meet the press. He got here in June 2007, Bud. Any GM is bound to stumble upon a few moves that appear to work every year. Andy had four years, and did not alter the paradigm of losing. That is the bottom line. He was an absolute failure, and that's why he is not coming back. He could if he wanted to because he obviously has 8'X10" glossies of someone in the Angelos family.

Hiring Francona would not make a bit of difference in Baltimore. Francona had first rate talent via free agency and Boston's minor league system. Boston was willing to do whatever it took to put the very best product possible on the field. We just don't have the resources or desire to that, so let's forget about Francona because he would not make a difference here.

Peter Angelos is 82 yrs old.

Just sayin' ...

I think we need to look adding 2 starting pictures and a 1st baseman Fielder would be a great fit . Have Reynolds take 100 ground balls a day and see if we can get some improvement. He also needs to cut down on strikeouts become more of a situational hitter.
Pitchers I think going after Mark Buerhle would be the best move and then someone like CJwilson Brett Myers or Wandy Rodriquez possible trade although I do have a lot of trepidation about NL pitchers moving to the AL
The final moves should resolving the B ROB situation I love what Robert Andino did toward the end of the season but he needs to be more consistent he vanished a number of times offensively. The same thing for Nolan Reimold if he is going to be the starting Left fielder now if only Peter Angelos would hire me to be the GM

Bear the Birdfan -
If you think Dempsey, Bordick, or Surhoff would be a better manager the Francona, you need to learn a lot more about baseball.

Managers are a dime a dozen I could manage the team if given a chance, I'm just kidding, The O's need some good players they have a few but they need some more and most of all they need some quality starters if they would get some of those than the managing would take care of itself!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not Francona please. Boooo! If Buck moves upstairs, we need a guy like Rick Dempsey, who was schooled by the likes of Earl Weaver and Tommy Lasorda. Also we should sign some better scouts, as well as some good starting pitchers.

Francona would have zero desire to come here.......there is no plan to become a winning club, only smoke and mirrors. Buck is looking for a way out and if it means moving upstairs, so be it. To become a winning club means spending BIG money....something this franchise, under current ownership, is just not willing to do. So the fans will have more last place teams to look forward to....and more smoke and mirror motto's.

any thoughts on the possibility of Ripken Slipping in to AM's seat?

I saw someone day Mark Reynolds and Albert Belle in the same breathe. Of course, that someone also said he doesn't care what anyone says so I am also assuming he doesn't care about facts either.

BA - Is .238 almost .295?

RBI - Reynolds' best season was 102, and he needed 42 HR's to even do that. Belle's last year (BAL in 2000) was a down year (23 HR's in 141 games), and he still had 103 RBI's. Belle's last nine years were over 102 RBI's each except the strike-shortened 1994, and he still had 101 RBI's in 106 games.

OPS - .815 versus .933

Belle led the league in runs (once), doubles (once), HR's (once), RBI's (thrice), slugging (twice), OPS (once), total bases (thrice), sacrifice flies (twice), was a five-time All Star, a five-time silver slugger, and was top ten in MVP voting five times.

Reynolds led the league in strike outs four times and once finished 20th for MVP voting. And that's (so far) it.

Here's perhaps the most telling: batting averages in the clutch:

2 outs, RISP - .268 v. .239
Late & Close - .273 v. .204
Tie Game - .303 v. .211
Within 1 run - .293 v. .230
Within 2 runs - .292 v. .229
Within 3 runs - .292 v. .231
Within 4 runs - .295 v. ..229
Margin > 4 - .293 v. .291

Hooray, a category where the two are actually comparable -- when their team is up or down by more than four runs.

I do care what you say. That's why I laughed so hard. And for so long.

And, please, no Rick Dempsey. The Dodgers relieved him of duty without having him with the parent club for a reason. He was a WS hero and MVP, and he makes me sleepy after the games on TV. That's plenty on his plate right there. And he's good at it.

Your statement isn't even logical.


Mark Reynolds offensive numbers, swing, and physical stature remind me most of Gorman Thomas who played for the Brewers 30 years ago. The biggest differences are that Thomas was a plus defensive player in center field and struck out about half as much. I know there are Oriole fans who are infatuated with Reynold's raw power but frankly he could not play for a contending team because of his defense, strikeouts and low OBP. He is a tough kid, but if there ever was a definition of a one dimensional player it is Reynolds.

Everyone is so critical of Mark Reynolds but the bottom line is, who can we get that is better? 37 HR and 80+rbi is not bad. He was terrible at third but pretty good at first so let's leave him at first with some DH'ing mixed in. Sure I wish he would strike less, drive in a few more runs and hit for a higher average, but the fact is outside of Fielder, who will come at a very steep cost, who can we get that is better?

Rick Dempsey has my number one vote.

If Buck moves upstairs then I have two words.....Ryne Sandberg.

If they hire Francona would he have our batters thrown at during batting practice?

Thank you waspman. I've been saying that all along during the season. I live in AZ where I have agonized over the one-dimensional player named Mark Reynolds for 4 years. He does not make any team better. If he was on a tyeam such as the Red Sox or yankees, then the other players around him could easily cover for his ineptitude in just about everything he does. Remember O's fans. Reyniolds was once a "core" player in AZ. They gave him up for David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio and chose to play Melvin Mora and Ryan Roberts and then sign Sean Burroughs. Who's in the playoffs and who is sitting home on their asses for the the 14th straigh year?

Don't be surprized if Riggleman is considered.

I'm amazed at the bashing of Epstein and Francona. Two World Series championships in eight years. They must have done something right.

Dempsey:O's fans::Bachmann:registered Republicans

you people are certifiable.

Sitting on their "Duffs" this playoff season??? I will tell you who isn't, Lyle Overbay, luck duck gets outrighted by the Pirates and they scoop him up.
Derrek Lee is sitting at home counting his Fazools. Good for Overbay.

Some more FYI stuff. Terry Francona was the bench coach in Texas in 2002.
He also coached some minor league teams in the White Sox organization.
Michael Jordan gave a hardy thumbs up on Francona's behalf when the Phillies were considering hiring him as their Manager a job he did wind up getting albeit with little success. I don't really want to see Riggleman considered.
If Showalter wants to head the FO, I hope he fires everyone and starts with a clean slate. Then hires Francona and LaMar as the Player Personnel Director.

PS If the O's are going to sign a big name for their #1 pitcher, they better go out an get a big name for their pitching coach. I keep on saying Langston would be perfect for a number of reasons! Just don't hear anything back, except for Mike Griffin... I am not so sure about him. I like him in AAA for now and retain Adair but as his original postion, bullpen coach

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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