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Could the Cleveland Indians trade manager Terry Francona?

Would you trade Tito for draft picks?

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Mailbag articles can be fun, but why not spice it up a little bit.

We Answer Wednesdays is where we answer the questions Tribe fans everywhere have been contemplating.  Plus, there’s some answers to questions that nobody has or likely would ever think about. Let the fun begin . . .

Consider this interesting offer . . . trading Terry Francona.  The Washington Nationals, going all-in this year, decide they need an upgrade from Matt Williams.  They target Terry Francona (and for this example let's say Francona agrees to the deal, possibly with a hefty raise) and offer their 1st round pick and 2nd round picks this year for him.  Do you trade Tito?

What a dastardly great question that makes you think, or at least it’s made me think on it for awhile. When I first came up with this trade offer, it was just a 1st round pick for Francona.  I don’t think that’s enough.  Francona, while not perfect, is really liked by his players and seems to get on well with the front office.  So I upped the offer to two picks, their 1st and 2nd round selections.

For this example, let’s assume the Nats have the 26th and 69th picks overall (and didn’t lose number 26 for signing Max Scherzer).  Also, let’s figure that the Tribe would get the extra cash values assigned to those slots added into their overall pool.  Finally, let's say the offer comes right before spring training. Gotta love fixing all those silly little details to make for better theater.

What’s a manager really worth?  Plenty of articles have been written on the subject, but one that stands out is from Neil Paine at FiveThirtyEight Sports.  While there is no definitive sabermetric stat for managers, Paine concludes that most managers aren't responsible for that many wins.  Paine states:

Furthermore, if we look at effects on player performance, it’s evident that hardly any manager can distinguish himself from his counterparts. Based on my analysis, 95 percent of all managers are worth somewhere between -2 and +2 wins per 162 games. Last year alone, 21 batters and seven pitchers were worth more to their teams than nearly every manager of the last 112 years.

So it’s likely Francona isn't a 6 WAR manager because they probably don’t exist.  As for draft picks, smarter people than me have figured that their value falls steeply towards the end of the fist round.   However, they still have plenty of value. Matthew Murphy, from the Hardball Times, estimates that the 26th pick in the 2014 draft was worth roughly $8.4 million in value.  Their 2nd round pick is 69th overall and equals out to almost $6 million in value.

Certainly there have been plenty of busts at 26 and 69 overall, but still that seems like a lot of value.  The fans would probably hate the deal, as it would look like the Dolan's selling out on the cheap again, and from a non-sabermetric approach, they'd sure look right. All in all, the numbers don't lie and value is value. So yes, I’d do the deal and trade ol’ Tito.  Would you?

Which current Indians player wins a Slam Dunk contest?

Not Jose Ramirez!  Ramirez is the shortest guy on the Tribe’s 40-man and while a good athlete, won’t get my vote.  Zach McAllister is 6’6", so he must be able to dunk a basketball, right?  Regardless, not my vote either.

Sadly, there's no Kenny Lofton's on this team.  Take a minute and enjoy this classic from 1993.  Yes, Kenny got robbed.

Back to 2015, I did no actual hard research into who played hoops while in high school or anything like that, but feel free to do the leg work if you so choose.  My pick is 6’2" Zach Walters.  Walters is a good athlete and plays with some attitude.  I see that transitioning over to the court and him absolutely wearing a rim out with power and pizzazz J.R. Rider style. Losing to Walters in the imaginary finals includes 6’2" Michael Brantley (Smooth!), 6’4" Jerry Sands, and 6’4" Corey Kluber (machine-like grace).

Who’s a sleeper pitching prospect that could help the big Tribe this year?

I excluded anybody in the LGT top 20, as we're looking for a sleeper here.  I think the guy flying under the radar a bit is Shawn Armstrong.

Armstrong is another late round gem found by the Tribe, after being drafted in the 18th round out of East Carolina in 2011.  He’s a reliever who served as AA Akron’s closer last year, finishing with 15 saves and a 2.12 ERA in 44 appearances for the Rubber Ducks.  Over the last two seasons he’s recorded K/9’s of 11.7 and 11.6, so he misses bats. He throws hard and can hit 95+ mph on the radar gun.

Control is an issue, but all the reports I’ve seen show improvement in his command and his BB/9 rates reflect that.  He’s starting his season in Columbus and I think it’s very possible he’ll help out the Tribe this year.