Just as the final game of the season was ending in New York, Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington was hurriedly drawing up the paperwork for Bobby Valentine’s release. The dismal failure that was the Bobby V Experiment ended the day after regular season play was finished. Having already freed himself out from under the massive contracts of Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford via the infamous “Nick Punto Trade” with Los Angeles, Cherington continued his clean house project by firing his manager as soon as possible. A 69-93 record is unacceptable in Red Sox Nation, and Cherington will hopefully be allowed to pick the manager he deems most qualified, instead of having management override his decision like last year when they chose Valentine. With interviews expected as early as Friday, here is a list of the most likely replacement candidates for the job.
The Dodgers’ 3rd base coach has drawn speculation as being Cherington’s top pick for the managerial position. He managed for Los Angeles’ Double-A team, leading the squad to a franchise record in wins. Although the tame egos of minor leaguers are a whole different animal than those of the prima donna professionals, this feat is certainly not a strike against Wallach. Unlike some other candidates, Wallach will not be carrying any baggage with him to Boston, and is expected to interview for the job within the week.
Farrell was an early favorite as the regular season began to wind down, and for good reason. He was a part of the Red Sox staff for both the 2004 and 2007 championship teams as the pitching coach under fan-favorite Terry Francona. However, his coaching abilities have been tested greatly in Toronto, where he led the Blue Jays to an only slightly better record than the Red Sox. His managing wherewithal has also been questioned, for Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended late in the season for sporting eye black that featured a gay slur in Spanish. Additionally, Boston would have to trade a player like Cody Ross or Ryan Kalish – the latter of whom is definitely more expendable – just to get Farrell. He may be more trouble than he is worth.
The former catcher-turned-special-assistant in the Houston Astros organization could be a good fit for the Sox. Like Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals and Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox, Ausmus could prove to be a pleasant surprise. Having been in the league for many years, he understands how the game should be played and has a grip on what it takes to win. His lack of managing experience, though, is a double-edged sword, and the Sox clubhouse could prove to be overwhelming for a first year skipper.
Let’s not rule out the likeliest of all in-house candidates. Bogar has been a member of Boston’s staff since 2009, and has managing experience in Double-A ball for Cleveland’s organization. He has a leg up on most other candidates because he is already familiar with the makeup of the Red Sox roster and the players’ personalities. This begs the question that if he is so qualified, why has he not been considered in the past? There must be something that we do not know. Perhaps he is being groomed for the job and the team doesn’t want to throw him into the mess that is the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays 3rd base coach is familiar with both John Farrell’s coaching tendencies as well as many of the Red Sox players, having managed Boston’s Triple-A affiliate in 2010.
As pitching coach of the Texas Rangers, Maddux has made it one of the most dominant in the league. His presence alone would be an immediate upgrade to a Sox pitching staff which has consistently underperformed the past few years.
McEwing, the Chicago White Sox 1st base coach, presents a similar quandary to that of Ausmus, a former player who could prove to be either successful or a bust.
Hall of Fame criteria and a willingness to manage: sounds like a good combination.