The Red Sox are in trouble. The team sits 12.5 games out of first place in the AL East, unable to catch the Yankees and the surging Rays. On top of that, the Red Sox are 6.5 games out of the wild card race, and have not won a series since they played Detroit in late July. Their most recent series losses include the Twins, Indians and Rangers. Not exactly the surge the team needed.
ESPN reports the players had a meeting with management about their displeasure with manager Bobby Valentine, with Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez vocalizing their displeasure with Valentine. While the players have been quick to dismiss the media's reports, Valentine does not fit with the Red Sox organization.
This morning Buster Olney suggested that the Red Sox would keep Valentine through the 2013 season and subsequently pursue Blue Jays manager John Farrell, the former pitching coach. While Farrell might be a solid option, Bostonians will not sit through another year of Valentine baseball. That is why the Red Sox should end their brief marriage with Valentine and replace him with former captain Jason Varitek.
Varitek is a better option for manager than Farrell. Farrell is not available, and Varitek is. Although Farrell's contract with the Blue Jays ends in 2013, there is no guarantee he will leave Toronto for Boston if asked. In addition, Farrell has enjoyed enough success in Toronto that he will have options if he chooses to leave Toronto. So why not take a chance on Varitek?
In addition, Farrell's strength as a manager is pitching because of his former role on the Red Sox and because of his career as a pitcher. Varitek caught the Red Sox staff for most of his career, and his strength as a manager would also likely be pitching, an area in which the Red Sox need help.
What should the Red Sox do?
While Varitek caught the Red Sox staff, Boston's staff consistently sat in the upper echelons of the major leagues. He caught multiple no-hitters during his career, and Varitek calls a game as well as any player in the league today. It is no coincidence that the Red Sox staff ERA spiked last year after Varitek stopped catching every day, culminating in the September collapse.
Most importantly, however, Varitek knows the players on the Red Sox better than any other managerial prospect, and he is a Red Sox for life. Varitek played with most of these players for years, creating a rapport with them and serving as their captain. There have only been four Red Sox captains since 1940, demonstrating Varitek's importance to the organization.
As a Red Sox fan, I can wholeheartedly say Varitek was the calming presence on the team. I attended the game where the Red Sox honored Jason Varitek in late July, and, every inning, former players gushed about Varitek's importance to the team during his tenure.
He never put up the flashy hitting numbers that Vaughn, Garciaparra, Ortiz or Ramirez did, but he consistently guided the staff to solid seasons. Varitek knows this team like the back of his hand, and the team has the highest respect for him. No manager in baseball carries such credentials for the Red Sox managerial job.
The only knock against Varitek is that he is young, but the Red Sox need a calming presence in the locker room to right the ship. Varitek can be that presence, and he commands the team's respect despite his age.
The late Johnny Pesky was a part of the Red Sox organization for sixty years, and the baton can be passed to another player. The Red Sox can honor Pesky's memory while ushering in a new era of stability for Red Sox nation. The next manager of the Boston Red Sox should be Jason Varitek.