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Terry Francona to St. Louis would be a fit

Sep 30, 2011, 9:25 PM EDT

Terry Francona AP

Excluding the job in Boston he just vacated, there’s only one current managerial opening for Terry
Francona. The White Sox, though, aren’t believed to be all that interested, in large part because Francona is sure to want to remain one of the game’s highest-paid managers (and deservedly so).

So, where to for Terry? The North Side of Chicago with the Cubs could be an option, depending on whom they hire as a general manager. It seems likely that the replacement for Jim Hendry there will want to make a change from Mike Quade.

But I think there’s another possibility. There’s been plenty of speculation that 67-year-old Tony La Russa could retire in St. Louis.  Some have even suggested he might like to finish his career back with the White Sox (the team he managed from 1979-1986).  La Russa, like Francona, is finishing up his latest contract, so he wouldn’t have to resign or get fired.

And if La Russa leaves, Francona to St. Louis seems like a perfect match. The Cardinals are used to having one of the game’s highest-paid managers, so spending $4 million per year on Francona isn’t a stretch, and Francona is pretty much the perfect manager to take over a contender and keep it contending.  Even if they lose Albert Pujols this winter, the Cards would still very much be a threat in the NL Central.

So, it’s a possibility, even if it’s more likely at this point that La Russa will stay another year. Which could mean that Francona will go into broadcasting for a bit and wait for another glamour job to open up.

Anyway, here’s Terry in his own words from Friday evening’s press conference.


  1. dirksimmons - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:34 PM

    Why wouldn’t the White Sox shell out money for a proven manager? They had a payroll of 127 million dollars. I’m pretty Ozzie wasn’t making the bare minimum either. Jerry reinsdorf has always considered the White Sox his baby, as opposed to the Bulls. He’ll invest that much in a manager if he deems it worthy.

  2. schlom - Sep 30, 2011 at 9:59 PM

    Funny how Francona is an elite manager now with the Red Sox yet was a terrible one with the Phillies. Weird the way that worked out.

    • bigharold - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:24 PM

      Look at Torre. He was a sub .500 manager with three teams until he got to the Yankees. Then, all the sudden, he became a genius.

      Actually, it has more to do with the right guy being in the right opportunity. Torre was a CEO type manager that was best suited to dealing with the egos and personalities of a big money team, the media and most importantly the owner. Francona was in he same mold. Neither was considered a brilliant tactician.

      In the right situation, Francona will be a very good manager. The question is; is that right situation the Cubs, the WS or taking a year or so off and doing “Baseball Tonight” and waiting for another opportunity?

      Regardless he was a pretty good manager and should be a legend in Boston for as long as baseball is played in Boston. Hail and Farewell Terry!

      • schlom - Sep 30, 2011 at 10:40 PM

        You can’t compare Torre with Francona. Torre was only bad with the hopeless 1977-1981 Mets. He was good with the Braves, only 3 games under .500 with the Cardinals and was hired by the Yankees the next season after he was fired by the Cardinals.

        Francona would probably fit in well with the Cubs as he’s already an expert at making huge payroll teams miss the playoffs.

      • bigharold - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:07 PM

        “You can’t compare Torre with Francona. ”

        You absolutely can because they are the same type of manager.

        Torre was good with the Braves? He has barely a .500 record. He made the playoffs his first year and regressed he next two and got canned.

        St Louis, less than a .500 manager, got canned in the middle of year 4. Other wise he’d likely been a lot worse than merely just under .500.

        And, don’t even bring up the Met’s.

        Torre was a sub .500 manager until he was taken aboard the Death Star. Francona, with similar managerial traits was a sub .500 manager too. That doesn’t mean that they weren’t good managers, that they just weren’t great managers.

    • firedude7160 - Sep 30, 2011 at 11:30 PM

      I will preface this by saying that I was never a fan of Francona while he was with the Phillies. That said, he was never really put in a position to succeed while with the Phillies. When he arrived he had a team full of guys past their prime (exceptions: Scott Rolen and Mike Lieberthal). He then had Bobby Abreu who, while in Philly at least, was a cancer to that team. The organization also didn’t spend money on the team (mostly because they weren’t making much). It wasn’t a great situation for a manager, but since it was his first managerial position, it gave him some valuable experience. But he landed in the perfect situation in Boston. It was almost a complete opposite of Philly. He inherited a playoff caliber team in it’s prime, and an organization that was willing to spend money. Like Bigharold said- “It has more to do with the right guy being in the right opportunity”

    • barryhoskings - Oct 1, 2011 at 6:57 AM

      MLB history is full of managers who had losing records for years & years then with the right team had a winning record for a few years & won a few world series in the process. Two who come to mind are: (1)Good ol’ Casey Stengel, a total loser for decades only to win 10 AL titles & 7 World Series titles in 12 years with the Yankees then he was fired, & (2) Joe Torre. We all know his record. So, Francona situation is not unusual at all.

  3. 1historian - Oct 1, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    Thanks, coach and good luck in the future. Just walk out the door and don’t look back, ‘cuz it ain’t gonna be pretty.

  4. cintiphil - Oct 1, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    A good manager can look bad with poor players. And, a poor manager will look bad with almost any players. Great players make good managers great. Even the best managers look bad with poor players. Case in point, Casey and the Mets. Who knows what will happen, but if Francona gets a poor team, he will not excel. I agree that with the birds, he will get a playoff team which is on schedule to get better next year with improved pitching.

  5. awriterorsomething - Oct 1, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    Here is how this would have worked back in the dark days:

    The Yankees would lose in the playoff’s, probably to the Tigers. Girardi would be fired and the Yankees would make Tito the highest paid manager in history 1) because he has had success, and 2) to tweak Boston.

    The Yanks would then get off to a horrible start, Tito would be canned in mid-May and Girardi (or perhaps Pinella) would be brought back to manage.

  6. awriterorsomething - Oct 1, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    AS for the managers effect, Sparky Anderson once remarked that he was a genius when Rose, Bench, Foster, Griffey, etc were young and in their prime. He said it was amazing how stupid he bacame when they all got old.

    • paperlions - Oct 1, 2011 at 10:14 AM

      That is because Anderson, like Berra, understood that you win with good players and you lose with bad ones….no matter who the manager is….managers have a lot more potential to do harm than to help…so the best thing you can hope for in a manager is that they generally stay out of the way and have some idea how to manage a pen.

      • spudchukar - Oct 1, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        In your opinion. As stated yesterday, the “barely managing” approach is one philosophy. There are others that have been proven to be effective, particularly if you are not blessed with the most talent.

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