The King is dead. Long live the King. After the kind of season the Red Sox mailed in with Bobby Valentine at the helm it was a forgone conclusion that he’d be fired. With Valentine ousted, who fits the Red Sox managerial bill?
Boston’s next manager will have to possess a multitude of skills; a high baseball IQ, an ability to handle the Boston media, tenacity, strong communication and judgement skills that will foster a new culture of winning and a sense of humor. After the Bobby V experiment they’ll also have to have been immersed in Major League Baseball for the past decade.
There are a number of options available to the Red Sox. One thing is for sure, there’s going to be no messing around this time. They’re going to get this done quickly. Peter Gammons recently reported that Boston management intends to have Valentine’s replacement hired by the November 5 General Manager meetings. That means a list of possibly 15 to 20 candidates that will be winnowed down in short order. So who’s it going to be? Here’s a short list of possibilities in no particular order.
Some in Red Sox Nation long for a reunion with former Sox pitching coach and current Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell. Supporters say he’s a solid cultural fit and has the right demeanor. Farrell certainly had the touch as Boston’s pitching coach during the Francona regime. I don’t see it.
In two years Farrell has managed the Blue Jays to finishes at or near the bottom of the AL East (.500 and .451 winning percentages). Boston doesn’t need a Valentine-esque whirling dervish, the likes of which were on display during training camp. They do, however, need a man with a pulse. Farrell’s a good guy. I like him. He’s not what Boston needs right now.
The Sox were very close to a deal last year with the Tigers’ third base coach before going with Valentine. I said it back then. I’ll say it now. Boston doesn’t need Pops Lamont. This is no ageism swipe. Hell, Lamont only has 11 years on me. It’s simply that through attrition, retirement and trade Boston is about to get a lot younger. Having a younger manager is a better fit both culturally and from a player relationship perspective.
Lamont has managed for eight seasons at the Major League level but it’s been awhile since he has been at the helm with the Chicago White Sox (1992-95) and Pirates (1997-2000).
Former Houston Astros catcher and native New Englander, Ausmus tellingly bowed out of contention for the Astros manager job last month, some say because the Red Sox let him know that an opening would be available. He’s only been retired for two years which is a double-edged sword; fresh enough out the game to be relevant yet an untested, unknown entity.
Asmus is currently working as a special assistant with the San Diego Padres. There’s just something about hiring someone with 10 years experience with the Astros that gives me the willies.
And speaking of former players that come from a losing tradition, the former Cubs second baseman has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. Here’s the difference between Sandberg and Ausmus. Ryno is a Hall of Famer; a solid fundamentals guy who knows all the ins and outs of the game. Sandberg has been managing in the minors since 2007 and may indeed be ready for a shot.
He has received high praise from his employers in Chicago and Philadelphia, so much so that the Philly press is calling for the Phillies to make a deal with Ryno to put him on ice and ready him for the manager’s role when Charlie Manuel‘s contract is up after the 2013 season. Personally, Ryno would be my pick.
McEwing has put in his time, having coached for four years in the White Sox minor league system and last year was promoted to the White Sox’ third base coach. McEwing played professionally for 16 seasons, including nine in the Major Leagues with St. Louis (1998-99), New York NL (2000-04), Kansas City (2005) and Houston (2006).
Known for his superb work ethic and love for the game “Super Joe” was always the first to arrive and last to leave the park. “Every day he (teammate Eric Davis) would walk in and I was always at my locker, dressed and ready to go,” said McEwing during a recent interview with MLB.com. “He would always say, ‘Did you take it home with you?’
“I loved the ballpark. I love that environment. I was always there early.” McEwing is rumored to have a close personal relationship with Dustin Pedroia. Sounds like two of a kind.
One last thing the manager of the Red Sox will need next year – a kevlar vest.
NESN’s 21 man rundown of potential managers can be found here.