Terry Francona wants out of Boston; White Sox are logical landing spot
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org September 29, 2011 10:16PM
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, 52, began his coaching and managing career in the White Sox organization. He interviewed here for the job that went to Ozzie Guillen in 2003. | Brad White~Getty Images
The Sox and Florida Marlins on Thursday completed the transaction that freed Ozzie Guillen from his Sox contract. The Sox acquired right-hander Jhan Marinez and infielder Ozzie Martinez for right-hander Ricardo Andres.
Andres, 20, was 1-0 with a 6.32 ERA in 12 relief appearances for Bristol of the Appalachian (advanced rookie) League.
Marinez, 23, made four relief appearances for the Marlins last season, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He was 3-8 with a 3.57 ERA in 56 games at Class AA Jacksonville this season.
Martinez, 23, was 3-for-23 in 20 games for the Marlins. He batted .245 with three homers and 26 RBI for Class AAA New Orleans.
Catcher Donny Lucy and right-hander Jhonny Nunez were outrighted to make room for Martinez and Marinez on the 40-man roster.
Updated: November 15, 2011 8:39AM
If the White Sox have designs on making Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona their successor to Ozzie Guillen, one important door has been opened.
Francona has had enough of his eroding Boston experience, a major-league source said, and will ask the club not to exercise the option on his contract.
“He has had his fill of the whole thing,’’ the source told the Sun-Times.
Francona, who guided the Red Sox to two World Series championships, decided it was time to cut ties before the Red Sox’ September collapse came to its horrifying conclusion Wednesday night. His contract has options worth $4.25 million for 2012 and $4.5 for 2013, more than double what Guillen was paid this season.
Francona, 52, would have options, of course, including possibly the Cubs or Cardinals. And whether he is the top guy on Sox general manager Ken Williams’ and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s wish list is not known.
Francona has close ties to the Sox, with whom he began his coaching and managing career in the minor leagues. He was interviewed by Williams in 2003, when Guillen was hired and was the manager at Class AA Birmingham for three years during the “Michael Jordan baseball experience” of 1994. Sox pitching coach Don Cooper, who received a four-year extension this week, was the Sox minor-league pitching coordinator at the time.
In 1996, Francona was third-base coach for the Tigers, whose manager was Buddy Bell, the Sox’ current farm director. The Phillies made Francona their manager in 1997.
At a Thursday news conference in Boston, Francona and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein were noncommittal about their status for next season.
“It’s a fair question,” Francona said. “Theo and I talked today a little bit and we’ll continue to talk tomorrow. It’s all still pretty fresh and raw.”
With a $161 million payroll, the Red Sox, who lost 20 of their last 27 games to blow a nine-game lead for the wild card, were criticized for lacking heart and complaining about everything from injuries to their schedule. The perception in Boston is that they’re overpaid underachievers.
At worst, Francona is taking heat for having the collapse happen on his watch, and being something of an enabler.
“There were some things that did concern me,” he said. “Teams, normally, as a season progresses, there are events that make you care about each other and [with] this club, it didn’t always happen as much as I wanted it to.”
Epstein said “nobody blames Tito for what happened in September — that would be totally irresponsible and totally short-sighted.”
Williams said Tuesday there is no timetable on a decision but there is a “clear direction as to the way I want it to go.’’ He said it could be done before the World Series, “but we have to wait and see who the players are in the World Series and if there’s someone on a playoff team that I ultimately might want to talk to. It might have to drag a little bit.”
Cleveland Indians first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr., who was promoted to bench coach on Wednesday, is thought by many to be high on Williams’ wish list, though major-league sources say the Sox have yet to seek permission from the Indians to interview Alomar. Rays bench coach Dave Martinez is also a top candidate. Both have ties to the Sox as former players.