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.”

Eric Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 million contract isn’t that bad

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Late Saturday night, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres and first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract, the new largest contract in club history. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the contract includes an opt-out after the fifth year. Further, Hosmer will average $21 million per year for those first five years and $13 million for the final three years, so it’s severely front-loaded.

Hosmer, 28, had a career year last season, playing in all 162 games while batting .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs, 94 RBI, and 98 runs scored in 671 plate appearances. Per Baseball Reference, Hosmer accrued 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, only one of six first basemen to do so. At No. 6, he was 0.4 WAR behind Anthony Rizzo and 0.4 WAR ahead of Logan Morrison.

Wil Myers had previously told the Padres he would accept a position change if the club were to sign Hosmer. He will be moving to the outfield as a result. The Padres now have a logjam in the outfield, so Jose Pirela could move moved to the infield. How the Padres plan to handle that situation remains to be seen.

The general consensus about the Hosmer signing once news broke was that it is laughably bad. Back in November, Dave Cameron — ironically now in the Padres’ front office — called Hosmer a “free agent landmine.” That thought hasn’t really changed among many writers. For example, using restraint, Dennis Lin of The Athletic calls the deal “a big gamble.” MLB Network’s Brian Kenny said Hosmer has at least three “red flags.”

FanGraphs projects the Padres to finish 71-91, so adding Hosmer isn’t likely to transform the club into a contender on his own. That being said, the Padres’ payroll was only at $70 million prior to the Hosmer signing, so the contract won’t hamstring them going forward. If the young nucleus of players — including Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe — perform as expected, the Padres could be a threat in the NL West relatively soon with plenty of cheap, cost-controlled players and having some experienced veterans like Hosmer and Myers could be useful for their intangibles — pennant race/playoff experience, clubhouse presence, leadership, etc.

Hosmer has had three seasons of 3.5 WAR or more, according to Baseball Reference. He’s had four between -0.5 and 1.0. Now entering his age-28 season, it’s hardly a guarantee he’ll be an All-Star-caliber player in 2018, let alone in 2022 when he is 32 years old. From a strict dollars-to-WAR standpoint in a complete vacuum, one could’ve done better than Hosmer at eight years, $144 million.

The Padres, however, aren’t a small market team; they just operate like one. Forbes valued the club at $1.125 billion last April. The Padres don’t have the financial muscle of the Dodgers or Yankees, but paying Eric Hosmer $18 million on average for the first five years of his contract won’t come close to hurting the organization in any way, shape, or form. More importantly, signing Hosmer shows the rest of the team and the fans a commitment to being legitimate, bumping the payroll up towards $90 million. That now dwarfs teams like the large-market Phillies, who opened up spring training with just over $60 million in player obligations.

In the grand scheme of things, the Hosmer signing is also a good sign given the standstill in the free agent market. Many veteran players — even reliever Fernando Abad, who posted a 3.30 ERA last season — had to settle for minor league contracts instead of guaranteed major league deals. Many others, including the likes of Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez, remain unsigned. The rumor that Hosmer wanted more than seven years and close to $150 million was laughed at last month. Agent Scott Boras was still able to get his client the deal he wanted, which could bode well for those still teamless. Martinez’s patience may yet be rewarded like Hosmer’s was; money may once again start flowing in the free agent economy.

In summation, the Eric Hosmer contract is good if: you are Eric Hosmer, related to or a friend of Eric Hosmer, a teammate of Hosmer’s, Scott Boras, a current or soon-to-be free agent, a Padres fan, and a baseball fan in general. The Hosmer contract is bad if: you are a penny-pinching owner of a Major League Baseball team, or someone who cares more about $/WAR than an actual good product being put on the field.