The Boston Red Sox are considering all options in their search to replace Alex Cora, including settling for an interim manager.
The Boston Red Sox are in the beginning stages of the search for their next manager to replace Alex Cora, who “mutually agreed” to part ways with the organization in the wake of MLB’s investigation into his involvement with the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. Boston’s brass won’t put a time frame on making a decision but with spring training only a few weeks away, a resolution needs to come as soon as possible. That could lead them to settle for a temporary solution.
Red Sox owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, CEO Sam Kennedy and CBO Chaim Bloom met with the media on Wednesday in a press conference broadcast live on the team’s official website. It was Bloom who tackled the majority of the questions regarding the managerial search. When asked if they will consider using an interim manager for the 2020 season, Bloom responded that he hasn’t ruled anything out.
"“There’s no question it’s an unusual time to be doing a managerial search.,” said Bloom. “We want to make sure we do this justice.”"
The Red Sox don’t have time to do their search justice before the season begins. The top candidates for the position were already scooped up long ago. Finding an experienced manager this late in the game won’t be easy. It certainly doesn’t help that they will be competing with the Astros, who fired AJ Hinch for his connection to the scheme orchestrated by Cora when he served as his bench coach in Houston.
According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Bloom is unlikely to poach a candidate from his former organization in Tampa Bay. That route would have “too many hoops to jump through.” Most teams have their coaching staffs set and won’t disrupt their hierarchy to do the Red Sox any favors. Receiving permission from any other club to interview their coaches seems to be a long shot unless they wait until after the season.
Bloom confirmed that he fully expects to give consideration to internal options in the managerial hiring process.
"“There’s no reason to think a number of them wouldn’t deserve consideration,” said Bloom."
Ron Roenicke served as the bench coach under Cora and has five years of experience as a big league manager with the Milwaukee Brewers (2011-2015). He appears to be one of the leading candidates if the Red Sox go with an internal hire.
Fans have been clamoring for Jason Varitek, the former catcher and team Captain who currently serves as a special assistant in the front office. While prior managerial experience isn’t a prerequisite for the position, it’s doubtful that they deem Varitek ready for the role. Kennedy mentioned that the front office welcomes Varitek’s growing responsibility with the club so perhaps he’s being groomed for the manager position at some point down the line.
An internal hire doesn’t necessarily mean an interim manager but ownership may be hesitant to commit long-term until they have the opportunity to conduct a full search for the right fit, a task they will be hard-pressed to complete in time for camp next month. There will be more options available at the beginning of next offseason instead of the tail end of this one.
While waiting may be the right choice in the long run, entering the season with an interim manager is a risky short-term solution. Players might not buy in to a manager viewed as a temporary band-aid. It’s one thing to hand the reigns over to an interim manager if a change is made mid-season but starting with one from Day 1 would be worse than a lame duck manager on an expiring contract. How can players be confident in the manager when he doesn’t have a vote of confidence from the front office? It’s not fair to the players or the manager.
There is now more uncertainty regarding the future of the franchise than at any point in recent memory. That doesn’t bode well for their chances of competing for a playoff spot next season.