SBD/October 9, 2012/Franchises

Antonetti, Francona Offer No Comment On Possible Out Clauses In Manager's Contract

Francona said he signed a four-year deal as he does not want to be a rental manager
Indians GM Chris Antonetti and new manager Terry Francona “would not comment on a Tweet" by ESPN's Buster Olney that Francona's four-year deal “includes out-clauses in case some of his superiors are fired,” according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Antonetti yesterday wrote in a tweet, “I'm not divulging additional details of the contract." Francona said that the “main reason he took the job was to work with” Indians President Mark Shapiro and Antonetti. Both men have been “coming under increased public and media criticism for their running of the club” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/9). In a separate piece, Hoynes notes Francona’s contract is “one of the longest ever given to a new Tribe manager.” Francona’s relationship with Shapiro and Antonetti was “forged when he worked with them as a special assistant to the baseball operations department” in ’01. Hoynes writes there are “rumblings that Francona would have never signed here unless he received a guarantee from CEO Paul Dolan that there would be an increase in the team's $64 million payroll.” Francona agreed that a “big payroll can cover a lot of bad decisions.” He said the main reason he asked for a four-year deal is he does not "want to be a rental manager.” Francona: “It's not so much that I came in worried, but I want to be part of the solution. I want to stick around” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 10/9). CBSSPORTS.com’s Scott Miller wrote Francona “surely didn't come cheaply, and he surely didn't come without soliciting a promise from owner Paul Dolan, whom Indians fans rightfully are ready to send into Lake Erie in a rowboat with no oars.” Miller: “The guess here is, that Francona agreed to take over in Cleveland if Dolan agreed to shake more change loose from his pockets.” The Indians “ranked 21st in the majors on opening day with a $78 million payroll, and 29th in the majors at season's end in attendance” (CBSSPORTS.com, 10/6).

TITO TEARS: Francona said that he “got choked up” when “calling to tell his father the contract was signed.” Francona: “I kind of cried a little bit. I didn’t want to, but it just happened. You can’t take a job because your dad was a good Indian. But it’s still a good story.” Francona said that he “learned a lot" at ESPN and that he talked “about burnout” with former Buccaneers coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 10/9).

UPHILL BATTLE: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian wrote Antonetti “made sure Francona understood the challenges faced in Cleveland.” Antonetti said, "I just wanted to make sure I was very candid and honest. Terry's words were, 'I'm all in.'" Francona “found it surprising that -- given his resume and the possible managerial roles opening this offseason -- so many people asked him why he would accept the job in Cleveland.” Francona: "I did get asked that a lot. It was, 'What are you doing? Why don't you wait for a team that's guaranteed, almost?' That really did surprise me” (MLB.com, 10/8). In Cleveland, Bill Livingston wrote, “If the Indians are going to contend again soon, they'll have to do it with mirrors.” Shapiro and Antonetti, while “working in handcuffs with a low payroll,” have “made some terrible talent misjudgments, from the return on trades of Cy Young winners CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee to the gamble on Ubaldo Jimenez.” Livingston: “Wouldn't Francona have had some guarantees of a higher payroll, if not of better talent judgment, before he signed a four-year contract?” Francona said, "That wasn't one of the questions. We're going to work together and figure out how to tackle challenges. I don't need to be the general manager, or the owner. I'm perfectly content being the manager. I don't know what the payroll is." Livingston noted the “answer is just under $66.5 million, 24th of the 30 major-league teams” (CLEVELAND.com, 10/8).
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