The search for the 2017 Boston Red Sox manager began this week, probably even before Farrell was shown the door. It’s only been a few days, but new names have been popping up like spring flowers. Some candidates have had absolutely zero managerial experience (Varitek), and others seem to have been managing since the oldest of fans were kids (Ron Gardenhire). It is anyone’s best guess to see who would be the new manager…
Though we don’t yet know who the Red Sox will choose, we already know the criteria:
1. The Red Sox need a manager who can handle the media. Boston is specifically known for having the most critical media in the nation, and the manager must be equipped to handle them.
2. Boston wants prior managerial experience, not just coaching experience, as Dave Dombrowski specifically stated in his press conference.
3. Finally, Boston needs a clubhouse leader who can relate to the younger guys. Boston has a young team. They need someone in the clubhouse that the young guys can relate to, something John Farrell lacked.
So, who are the main options?
Boston’s 2016 bench coach. Of course, any time a head coach gets fired, the bench coach gets some consideration. Tory Lovullo, Sox former bench coach has found success as the D-Backs head coach, and may even get consideration for manager of the year. Lovullo, who many believe should be managing in Boston, led his team to the ALDS before falling to the Dodgers. Unfortunately, Discarcina is not the same guy. Even if he was, Dombrowski has said he will not hire anyone who was in the dugout last season.
Verdict: Disarcina, out.
The longtime Minnesota Twins manager has been rumored to be a “top 3 candidate” in the Red Sox coaching search. Also with the D-Backs last year, Gardenhire was the bench coach who led Arizona farther than most predicted. While Gardenhire may bring more baseball experience than anyone, many doubt he can connect with the players as well as some of the younger guys. For that reason, he’s out in the Red Sox Shark Tank.
Verdict: He can never file an ageism suit if you don’t hire him in the first place. Too old.
How awesome would it be if Jason Varitek actually managed the Red Sox next season? A fan favorite who was the captain of the historic ’04 team seems like the perfect guy to get this clubhouse motivated. Anyone who has the balls to shove his glove in A-Rod’s face can manage the egos in this clubhouse. The only problem? Dombrowski said he wanted someone with managerial experience. Sorry, Tek, maybe a bench coach job is more realistic, or a little time in the minors to get you trained up.
Verdict: Not ready to go from Captain to Manager
Here we go; this has to be the choice. Brad grew up a Red Sox fan, was a manager under Dombrowski in Detroit and young enough to develop a strong connection with this team. He can easily take control of the clubhouse and can turn the mentality of this team around. But wait. In Detroit, Ausmus was very sensitive to the media. In a city where the media is not nearly as strong as Boston, Ausmus still did not fair well, and was often known to be prickly with the press. Guess that means he will not survive well in Boston at all. Sorry Brad, maybe hope a job in Toronto becomes available?
Verdict: Still a frontrunner, but it may end up costing him and Dombrowski their jobs if it doesn’t work out.
DING DING DING!! Finally, someone that meets all the criteria. Cora spent last season as the bench coach for the team that knocked Boston out of the playoffs. Learning under A.J. Hinch, Cora certainly is qualified to handle the baseball decision making. He is certainly young enough to relate to the players, and as an established former MLB veteran, he can take control of the clubhouse. Playing here for 4 years including winning a World Series has shown he can handle the media as well. Cora is also bilingual, which will give him an even stronger connection with some of the guys like Rafael Devers and Hanley. Alex Cora seems to fit all of the criteria.
Verdict: if Dombrowski has a brain, he’d choose the man who checks all the boxes.
Wild Card – Gabe Kapler
This one is interesting. Kapler was on the ’04 World Series team, showing he can handle the media. He played 13 MLB seasons and proved himself to be a team leader. Kapler has spent the last 3 seasons in the L.A. Dodgers front office as the Director of Player Development. With guys like Corey Seager and Yasiel Puig coming up through the system, it seems like he is doing a pretty good job. If Cora doesn’t get hired, Kapler could be a good second choice.
Verdict: never count a 2004 team member out.