I just watched the press conference introducing Terry Francona as the Indians’ new manager and there were a few interesting tidbits.
• Francona signed a four-year contract that runs through 2016 and said negotiations were very easy, which is noteworthy because some initial speculation wondered if he might be out of the Indians’ price range.
• Of course, after general manager Chris Antonetti gave him a very complimentary introduction Francona joked: “After that introduction, I don’t think I got enough money.”
• Francona’s father, Tito Francona was there. Tito played for the Indians from 1959-1964, making an All-Star team one year and finishing top-five in the MVP voting another year, and Terry explained that he “cried a little bit” when telling his father he was taking the job.
• Francona admitted that he “was showing some wear and tear” near the end of his time with the Red Sox, but assured everyone that he’s “fully committed” to the Indians and “didn’t come here to go to pasture.”
• On the roster that has fallen apart in the second half of back-to-back seasons, Francona said: “Every player starts with a clean slate.” Sort of fitting, considering Francona is basically doing the same by coming to Cleveland.
Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.
This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.
So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.
The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.
As you get ready for Memorial Day weekend and whatever it entails for you and yours, take some time to read an excellent article from Mike Bates over at The Hardball Times.
The article is about Eddie Grant. You probably never heard of him. He was a journeyman infielder — often a backup — from 1905 through 1915. If you have heard of him, it was likely not for his baseball exploits, however: it was because he was the first active baseball player to die in combat, killed in the Battle of the Argonne Forest in October 1915.
Michael tells us about more than Grant’s death, however. He provides a great overview of his life and career. And notes that Grant didn’t even have to go to war if he didn’t want to. He was 34, had the chance to coach or manage and had a law degree and the potential to make a lot of money following his baseball career. He volunteered, however, for both patriotic and personal reasons. And it cost him his life.
Must-read stuff indeed. Especially this weekend.