Terry Francona

Terry Francona reaches 1,000 career managerial wins

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Red Sox skipper Terry Francona became one of just 57 managers to reach 1,000 career wins with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat of the Mariners.

The 52-year-old began his managerial career in 1997 with the Philadelphia Phillies, going 285-363 over a four-year stretch that saw not a single postseason appearance. But he was hired by the Boston Red Sox in 2004, and everything quickly changed.

Francona led the ’04 Red Sox to a 98-64 record and a World Series title, snapping an 86-year franchise drought. The ’05 Red Sox went 95-57, The ’06 Sox went 86-76, The ’07 Red Sox went 96-66 and won another World Series, the ’08 Sox went 95-67, the ’09 team went 95-67 and the 2010 club finished 89-73.

This season, the Red Sox hold the best record in the American League at 61-37.

Francona has been fortunate to manage teams that are loaded with talent, and he would freely admit that, but all the success has some in the media wondering whether Tito might eventually be headed for Cooperstown.

Here’s Rob Bradford of WEEI.com on Francona’s current resume:

What should be noted is that eight managers have won three World Series titles, with seven already residing in the Hall of Fame and one [Joe Torre] scheduled to arrived in just a few years.

Francona’s .532 winning percentage is fourth-best among active managers, with just Davey Johnson, Mike Scioscia and Tony LaRussa besting the mark. He is the eighth active skipper to reach 1,000 wins. But it is only LaRussa who carries what the Red Sox manager possesses — two World Series rings.

If a third title comes his way — which, as we sit here, appears to be a very real possibility — the man who seamlessly guided the Red Sox to their 61st victory Saturday night will be a Hall-of-Famer.

“I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” Francona told reporters on Sunday. “I really don’t. It’s really not that big of a deal. I’m appreciative of the opportunity I have because I really caught a break. This is a great organization with a lot of great players. I’m really fortunate. Other than that, I’d like to keep the perspective on the players.”

“If he was a pitcher, it’d be more impressive,” Josh Beckett joked after locking up Sunday’s victory. “It’s nice to win any time, but yeah, it’s nice to pitch in games like that — when they mean something to someone else.”

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.