The Indians are in a fight to the finish

Chico makes a case for Terry Francona as Manager of the Year

Mike 'Chico' Bormann
September 16, 2019 - 12:44 pm
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 14: Manager Terry Francona #77 of the Cleveland Indians sits in the dugout before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Progressive Field on August 14, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Red Sox defeated the Indians 5-1. (Photo by David

(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)


If I told you back in March that the Cleveland Indians would have 87 wins on the 16th of September, you would probably shrug it off and ask if they were destined for another postseason cameo or a deep run into October.

If I told you back in March that while the Cleveland Indians were sitting at 87 victories in mid-September, they would also be on the outside-looking-in as far as any kind of seat at the October dinner table, your reaction might be a mix of surprise and skepticism.

If I told you the Tribe would be four and a half games back of the Minnesota Twins, who, after adding the likes of Nelson Cruz and C.J. Cron would suddenly conjure up memories of the 1927 New York Yankees, some of you historical revisionists might shout, "I told you the Twins would rewrite the record books!" 

But how about if I told you the Indians would cobble together 87 wins on September 16th and would be without the services of Francisco Lindor, Mike Clevinger, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Jose Ramirez for extended periods of time? That they would sit eleven and a half games behind the Twins in early June after beginning the season with an offense featuring the likes of Max Moroff, Eric Stamets, and Brad Miller, to go along with over-the-hill vets Carlos Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez? Or that Ramirez(Jose) would hover around the Mendoza Line for much of the first half before becoming white-hot after the All-Star break, only to lose him for the season with a hand fracture?

If I proclaimed all of this would take place back in March, you would be telling me I had green beer coming out of my ears.

Here's what I AM telling you today: Regardless of how the month of September finishes up, this is Terry Francona's best work as Manager of the Indians since taking the reins back in 2013. 

He deserves serious consideration for Manager of the Year after navigating the angry waters of 2019.

You might argue a deep run in October of 2016 that saw the Indians somehow get to a World Series Game 7 against the heavily favored Cubs was Tito's best work. That argument has plenty of merit when you consider the club lost Carrasco in late September after a freak line-drive fractured his hand. That would be followed by Trevor Bauer being unavailable for the playoffs after mangling his finger while performing routine maintenance on his collection of drones.

Oh yeah, and there were antics from Bauer this year that prompted his relocation down I-71 to Cincinnati after a trade with the Reds.

A plethora of injuries, including a cancer diagnosis for one of the most beloved guys in the organization in Carrasco, a trade involving a guy who had worn out his welcome in the clubhouse, and the departure of a key middle of the order bat in Michael Brantley to Houston.

And yet here are the Indians, battered and bruised and staggering to a regular season finish line that has twelve games to be played. They sit four and a half back of Minnesota and a game and a half back of a much more realistic goal that is a Wild Card berth. I don't know if they have enough gas left in the tank to entertain us in October. What I do know is, the fact that we are even having this discussion is astonishing. It's also one more testament to Manager Terry Francona's uncanny ability to guide the ship through the choppiest of seas.