Terry Francona was already second all-time for wins as a Red Sox manager, but with Saturday's victory over the Seattle Mariners, he also became the second manager in Boston's long history to notch win #1,000 while at the helm of the Sox. Two has been a good number for Francona, as he is also tied for the most World Series championships among Sox managers with a pair, putting him alongside Bill Carrigan, who won twice while running the team between 1913 and 1916, and is also the only other Sox manager to manage more than 1,000 games with the team.
Of course, unlike Carrigan, he has a chance to win a third championship and become the franchise's all-time leader. He is also within a reasonable distance of all-time win leader and Hall of Famer Joe Cronin and his 1,071 victories. Francona has a .584 career win percentage with Boston compared to Cronin's .539 mark set over 1,987 contests, so it may not take him nearly as many victories to get there -- the lowest win total for a Red Sox team under Francona was 86 in 2006, meaning his worst season with the club was nearly as good as Cronin's career average.
That isn't all Tito, as he has had some incredibly talented rosters at his disposal, but there is a lot to be said about a manager who can stay out of the way of the players put under his care. Francona is not known for his tactical acumen -- although he has had his moments, as Joe Torre can attest to -- but you rarely hear of dissent within the Red Sox clubhouse, especially now that Manny Ramirez is just a memory -- for all his excellent hitting, he wasn't always the most popular man on campus. Hell, the fact he was able to keep the clubhouse together with Manny around as long as he did is a testament to his skill in the clubhouse, and that's coming from someone who has and will defend Ramirez on many a topic.
For a team as under the microscope as Boston, Francona's ability to keep that clubhouse together and deal with the media has been huge over the years. If there is a list of players who have complained about his tenure there and the way they were treated as Red Sox, it's a short one.
It's also clear that Francona is much more capable than his predecessor in terms of taking his cues from the men upstairs. The young players get their shots when they have shown themselves worthy, pitchers are not left in games to destroy their arms, and, aside from your occasional lineup snafu or an odd reliever choice, the in-game decision making hasn't amounted to any serious problems over the years. Francona likes to joke that he is just here because of a Dave Roberts' stolen base back in 2004, but were he not doing his job -- and doing it well -- you wouldn't be reading a piece about his 1,000th career win happening in Boston right now. Chances are good, with his history in this city and the rosters he has entrusted to him each spring, that we will be revisiting this topic once again in the future to congratulate him on a brand new milestone.