A disastrous stint as Red Sox manager has mercifully ended for Bobby Valentine, who was fired by the team after the season finale in New York.
Beleaguered. Embattled. Lame-duck.
All of these terms could have been used to describe Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. We can now add a new (and final) one to the list: “former.”
After a disaster of a season both on and off the field, the Boston Red Sox have mercifully fired Valentine and will now set about finding his replacement, according to the team's Twitter feed.
There is no shortage of candidates throughout MLB, as names from both within and outside the Sox organization will now be bandied about in an effort to identify the team’s 45th manager. They range from young and untested to old and experienced, and the Sox will likely not discriminate in trying to find the best fit.
GM Ben Cherington has already said that he wants to move quickly on a new manager, telling Boston radio station WEEI last week that he “would like to spend less time on [the manager search] this offseason” than last year.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at eight prime candidates for the job that Cherington will likely look to begin filling tomorrow.
Like Billy Martin with the Yankees before him, Terry Francona could return to the team that once scorned him. While bringing back the man who brought two World Series to Boston would be a huge win from the fans’ perspective, it seems unlikely that Francona would be keen to return to his old job.
Not only does he have a great gig working for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, but he likely will not be too eager to return to the team that smeared him in the media after last season.
According to The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, Francona initially refused the team’s invitation to the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park because he wouldn’t have been able to “go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical.”
While he has been back to Fenway as recently as last week, it is highly unlikely the beloved former manager would want to come back on a full-time basis.
The former captain and star catcher would be another hugely popular choice with the fans. While he has never managed a big league team (or any team) before, Varitek has the undying respect of both the players and the organization, two things that seemed to be missing throughout Valentine’s tenure.
Having just taken a position with the Sox as a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington, it seems likely that Varitek is being groomed for a future in managing. However, despite the temptation to do so, it seems like now is not the right time to give him the reins.
The team needs the guidance of someone who knows how to help develop young players, and for all the positives he would bring, Varitek simply lacks the experience to be entrusted with the 2013 Sox.
Another recently retired catcher, Brad Ausmus has already been discussed for managerial openings around baseball. Ken Rosenthal reported on September 21 that Ausmus had interviewed for the Astros job, only to withdraw his name a day later for “personal reasons.”
Regardless of his interest in MLB managing jobs, Ausmus managed Team Israel in the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where it ultimately fell short, and he presently serves as Special Assistant to Baseball Operations for the San Diego Padres.
While not ample, the experience he has collected since retiring would give the Sox something to consider when determining whether he is a viable candidate for the job. It seems unlikely, though, that they would ultimately want him in charge given his lack of managing credentials.
With the Sox spot now available, it is only logical for the team to take a look at a man who has a lot of experience in the AL East as both a player and coach.
Rays manager Joe Maddon described Martinez to WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford last offseason as “invaluable” and “ready,” and with another year of experience, the former outfielder is ready to assume a larger role.
If the Sox choose to go the route of a less experienced manager from outside the organization, Martinez would likely be the choice.
Gene Lamont was a finalist for the job last offseason and would likely be considered again this time around.
He has spent the last seven seasons serving as the Tigers third base coach and previously managed the White Sox from 1992 to 1995 and the Pirates from 1997 to 2000. He has even taken home some hardware, winning the AL Manager of the Year award in 1993.
Lamont is 65 years old, so he is not exactly an injection of youth. He could, however, serve as a “bridge” to a younger manager down the line such as Varitek.
Having spent 48 years in baseball and with significant experience managing, Lamont represents an unexciting but “safe” choice. After all the turmoil surrounding the Sox the last several seasons, perhaps that is just what they need.
While Angels owner Arte Moreno recently gave Scioscia a vote of confidence, these things can often signal the beginning of the end for a manager. The Angels have underachieved this season and will shockingly miss the playoffs despite their offseason spending bonanza.
The emergence of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, coupled with the additions of Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Zack Greinke, would seemingly indicate a team headed for the World Series. But under Scioscia, the Angels have failed to live up to the hype.
Scioscia will enter the fourth year of a 10-year deal next season, so to get him, the Sox would likely need to provide significant compensation. However, the way things have gone in Anaheim this year, the Angels would likely at least listen.
Tim Bogar enjoys the advantage of knowing both the team and organization well, having served under Valentine this season and Francona starting in 2009. He also has managed extensively in the minor leagues, beginning in 2004 and continuing all the way until he was hired by the Sox.
Bogar was a candidate for the Astros manager position and was considered a front-runner for the job that ultimately went to Bo Porter.
While it is purely speculation, perhaps a reason Bogar did not get the job was due to his ties to the Sox and the strong possibility that he would be asked to replace Valentine.
The former Sox pitching coach and current Blue Jays manager has to be considered the front-runner for the job, even amidst reports, like this one from The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, that the Jays’ asking price for his services will be exorbitant.
The Sox won two championships with Farrell as pitching coach, and it seemed that every pitcher who came through the organization raved about Farrell’s ability to get the best out of him. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz both enjoyed their best seasons under him and would surely welcome their old boss back.
While the Yunel Escobar incident and criticism from Omar Vizquel have raised some questions about Farrell’s managerial skills, the Sox will likely be undeterred by these setbacks. Expect them to vigorously pursue (and ultimately land) Farrell as their next manager.