Former Phillies manager Terry Francona to return to MLB after illness

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 25: Terry Francona #77 walks to the mound to remove Cal Quantrill of the Cleveland Indians from the game in the fifth inning of the game at Target Field on June 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Indians 8-7. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 25: Terry Francona #77 walks to the mound to remove Cal Quantrill of the Cleveland Indians from the game in the fifth inning of the game at Target Field on June 25, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Indians 8-7. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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Former Phillies, Red Sox manager Terry Francona to manage Cleveland Guardians again after health issues

Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Terry Francona, who won World Series championships with the Boston Red Sox, is returning to his post as Cleveland Guardians manager after dealing with health issues that have sidelined him on and off over the last two seasons.

Francona managed 14 games during the 60-game 2020 season, and stepped away again on July 29, 2021. He’s dealt with a plethora of maladies, including a staph infection and gastrointestinal issues. He had his hip replaced in August, and has been wearing a boot for his toe issues.

Francona managed the Phillies from 1997-200, and finished with a 285-363 (.440) record. His teams finished fifth, third, third, and fifth in the NL East over his four seasons at the helm.

After serving as a bench coach for the Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s, Francona replaced Grady Little as Red Sox skipper for the 2004 season. The Sox were coming off a devastating ALCS loss to the Yankees. In Francona’s first season, his Sox won 98 games to clinch the American League wild card, which, in its previous singular format, put them directly into the ALDS, in which they swept the Angels.

Francona’s Sox then completed the greatest comeback in baseball history against the Yankees in the ALCS, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win it in four straight games. They followed it up by bulldozing the St. Louis Cardinals in another four in a row to win their first championship in 86 years.

Instant legend status for Francona.

Francona’s Sox won 90+ games in six of his eight seasons, and never finished a season with a losing record. They made five postseason berths and won two World Series.

The Cleveland Guardians, whom Francona had played for in 1988, hired him in 2013. He’s led them to the postseason several times, but the World Series continues to elude them. Cleveland now owns the longest World Series drought in MLB, winless since 1948.

Why do failed Phillies managers do so well with other MLB teams?

Francona isn’t the only former Phillies manager to have greater success in his second act. Burt Shotton, who managed the Phillies for six seasons (1928-33), including two 100+ loss seasons. He had transitioned to scouting for the Brooklyn Dodgers when Branch Rickey called on him to manage the team after Leo Durocher was suspended for the 1947 season.

Shotton’s Dodgers won the NL Pennant (in pre-division era baseball), but lost the World Series to the New York Yankees after a seven-game battle. They won another pennant in 1949, but lost another World Series to the Yankees. Whereas Shotton had a .403 record leading the Phillies, he left Brooklyn with a .603 mark.

Gabe Kapler lasted only two seasons with the Phillies before being replaced with current skipper, Joe Girardi. Kapler just led the San Francisco Giants to a 107-win season in which they unseated the longtime division champ Los Angeles Dodgers. Kapler won NL Manager of the Year for his efforts.

Francona managed Kapler in Boston and managed against Girardi, who was the Yankees skipper from 2008-17. He also managed several other former Red Sox who are now MLB managers: Alex Cora (Sox), Dave Roberts (Dodgers), Kevin Cash (Rays), Rocco Baldelli (Twins), David Ross (Cubs), and as of this month, Mark Kotsay (A’s).

It’s eerie to think that failing with the Phillies is the common denominator for managerial success elsewhere. Hopefully, that changes soon.

More. Ranking every Philadelphia Phillies manager from worst to first. light

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