The 2020 MLB season has been full of drama and intrigue as it heads into the final third of the season. The Cleveland Indians have had their fair share of the storylines and subplots. From the lack of hitting to Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac breaking COVID protocols. On top of all that the Indians have been without their manager Terry Francona for most of the season due to health reasons. Whether Francona will come back at all this year is anyone’s guess at this point, but thanks to Sandy Alomar Jr., the Indians are viewed as a lock for the postseason. Make no mistake, this is still Francona’s team and Alomar has said as much (cleveland.com). What can’t be denied is the importance of having a second manager on the coaching staff.
The mere fact that Alomar is still with the Indians is unbelievable when one looks at his playing and coaching history. Alomar has interviewed in the past for several managerial jobs with Boston and the New York Mets amongst others. Alomar hasn’t been interviewed the last two winters and his quest to be a big-league manager seems to be at a standstill, which is fortunate for the Indians. Alomar has seen fellow staff-mates such as Kevin Cash and Mickey Callaway get the call and numerous former players who lack Alomar’s coaching credentials.
Alomar played 20 seasons in the major leagues with 11 of those on the shores of Lake Erie (baseball-reference.com). Over the 220 seasons, mostly as a catcher, Alomar won the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year and Gold Glove award (baseball-reference.com). He would also appear in six MLB All-Star Games, most memorably the 1997 Midsummer Classic in Cleveland in which he won MVP (baseball-reference.com). Alomar was also a part of both the 1995 and 1997 Indians teams that made it to the World Series. After his playing career ended in 2007, Alomar spent a couple of seasons as an instructor with the Mets organization before coming back to Cleveland on Manny Acta’s staff (mlb.com).
Since coming back to Cleveland, Alomar had a couple of opportunities to manage the Indians, as he was the interim manager when Acta was fired at the end of the 2012 season. He was also up for the Indians Manager job before Francona was eventually given the role. Under Francona, Alomar has been a first base coach as well as bench coach and has spent time previously filling in for Francona. This season is the longest period of time he has filled the interim role. Thus far, he has managed in 28 of 42 total Indians games and has a record of 18-10 (espn.com). It looks like for the foreseeable future Alomar will manage the Indians and based on the job he has done thus far, Indians fans shouldn’t expect anything less than they do of Francona. Alomar had spent the last seven years working and learning under Francona and ultimately it is up to the players to deliver. Managers, by some estimates, are only worth anywhere from two to 10 wins in a 162-game season (fivethirtyeight.com). This situation isn’t in the ballpark of having to replace one’s head coach in football or basketball, sports where the coaches directly impact every game, but a manager is still an important piece for any baseball team.
Managers aren’t coaches.
They are there to manage the players’ personalities and the ups and downs of each season. A good manager knows how to motivate and communicate with the players as well as keep a clubhouse in check. Most great managers understand that it’s the players that win games and their jobs are to put them in the best position to succeed and get out of the way. Alomar knows this and more through his two decades as a player and the last 10 years as a coach in the big leagues. He deserves a lot of praise for how he has managed what has been a crazy 2020 season. Indians fans should be thankful that Alomar has inexplicably fallen through the cracks of the MLB managerial carousel.
It won’t be long before he gets to remove the interim tag and become a manager elsewhere.