Direction Red Sox managerial search appears to be trending

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 29: A general view of the Fenway Park sign and grandstand during the second inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 29, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 29: A general view of the Fenway Park sign and grandstand during the second inning of the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on September 29, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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All has been quiet on the Red Sox search for their new manager as spring training looms.  What does this mean?  And which way is it trending?

It’s been exactly a week since both the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox fired their respective managers following the commissioner’s report being published.

All has been quiet on the Red Sox front as far as potential candidates to manage the team coming into the 2020 season. The only name that has been speculated through the media is Mets bench coach, Hensley Meulens, who also happens to be a prominent option for Mets themselves, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

The Houston Astros on the other hand, are not messing around. Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston reported last week that the Astros were interviewing John Gibbons. According to the Dallas Morning News, they have already interviewed Jeff Banister, Dusty Baker, Will Venable, and Buck Showalter. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic confirmed that Eduardo Perez will also be interviewed.

Four of those candidates have taken their former baseball teams deep into the playoffs in recent years. Venable stands out on this list as someone who is probably the type of candidate that may more readily embrace the new analytical approach to in-game management. However, the obvious theme of the six listed points to age and experience.

The one interesting aspect of Houston’s search is that they do not currently have a General Manager yet. Typically, it would be the executive who would lead the search for a new manager, so it’s definitely curious that the Astros seem to be prioritizing things backwards.

The Red Sox do not seem to be in any hurry to name a candidate. In recent years they have seemingly kept things close to the vest. For example, nobody was aware they were honing in on Chaim Bloom to replace Dave Dombrowski until roughly 24 hours before the terms were agreed upon.

A tweet from Masslive’s Chris Cotillo further illustrates the idea that Boston will take its time before making their decision, even going as far to say it may not happen before pitchers an catchers report to spring training, which happens to be February 12th. Wouldn’t that be awkward?

What this likely suggests is that Boston intends to hire a candidate from within the organization.  Namely, Ron Roenicke. The major obstacle standing in their way is the looming MLB investigation into whether the Sox players illegally used the video replay room to steal signs.

If Boston is exonerated at the conclusion of the investigation, they can then promote their current bench coach as the manager of the team without any bad optics resulting from it.

If the team is not exonerated, then the prominent question would be: “What did Roenicke know?  And why didn’t he stop it?”

Fortunately for the Red Sox, there have been whispers throughout the Boston landscape that the investigation thus far has not yielded any wrongdoing. J.D. Martinez also told several reporters during the Winter Weekend event on Friday and Saturday that the Red Sox did not cheat during the 2018 season.

It’s easy for Martinez to take that type of a stance since he has a vested interest in the outcome. But were there any Astros players denying any wrongdoing over the weekend in regards to their own scandal?

Speaking of bad optics, how awful would it look if the Boston front office does in fact hire a candidate from outside of the organization, and then one or more people on the current coaching staff loses their jobs? Especially after all of their hard work getting this team ready for spring training?

Jason Varitek has emerged as an overwhelming fan favorite to take Cora’s place next season. The current media vibe among Boston beat writers is that the former Red Sox catcher is more open to managing than he has ever been.

I speculated in my previous article that there would be a high degree of risk in hiring Varitek due to the current roster and payroll turmoil that the Red Sox are experiencing. Especially when you consider the lack of rotation depth and durability along with the challenges that will present.

Does Bloom really want to whiff on his first managerial hire? I suppose it would be one way to appease the fans should he have to make an unpopular trade i.e. Mookie Betts.

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At the end of the day, Roenicke is by far the safest choice. I will be shocked if he was not the person filling out the lineup card on opening day.