Terry Francona's Replacement: 5 Best Candidates for Red Sox Managerial Job
The manager who led the Red Sox to their first two World Series championships since 1918 has agreed to part ways with the team after eight terrific seasons in Boston.
That being said, it was the right move for the Red Sox front office to make, not only because of Francona's struggles this season with keeping the team under control and well-conditioned, but also to illustrate the fact that there is a short leash for poor performance in baseball to both the players and to Theo Epstein.
This offseason will be one of the most important in recent history for the Red Sox. Not only will they have to find starting pitching and a right fielder, find a way to dump John Lackey's horrendous salary off on another team and find a peaceful way to part ways with currently useless veterans Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield, but they have to find the new face of the franchise.
The manager's role in baseball is overrated in terms of strategic input but is incredibly underrated in impact to the team due to the fact that the manager sets the tone of the locker room, and much of baseball revolves around player management and camaraderie. This article will explain who I believe are the five best, realistic, candidates to be the new manager of the 2012 Boston Red Sox.
No. 1 Ryne Sandberg
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To me, despite his lack of any real ties to the Red Sox organization, the ideal candidate to this position is the Hall of Fame second baseman, Ryne Sandberg.
Sandberg has been incredibly successful as a minor league manager in recent years, most recently with Triple-A Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia), and his great success as a player will demand immediate respect in the clubhouse.
He is a tremendous role model who is a class act both on and off the field but will not take as much of the nonsense that Francona did this year. Also, it would be neat to see a current Hall of Fame second baseman managing a future Hall of Fame caliber player, in Dustin Pedroia, throughout the prime of his career.
The Phillies have made it seemingly clear that Sandberg is their ideal choice as their next manager, but Charlie Manuel most likely isn't going anywhere right away. Either way, Sandberg will be at the major league level for the first time next year, as a bench coach (and manager in training) for the Phillies or as a manager with another team such as the Red Sox or a return to the Cubs.
No. 2 Dave Martinez
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The hiring of Dave Martinez would be a great one for the Red Sox, not only because they would be getting themselves a young and potentially successful manager, but because they would be breaking up one of the best coaching staffs in the major leagues from their rivals in Tampa.
Martinez was a journeyman outfielder throughout the 90s who has been around many different clubhouses both as a player and currently as the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has been Joe Maddon's right-hand man since 2007 and may be ready for a well-deserved promotion to a managerial position.
The Red Sox would be a great fit for the 47-year-old so long as he could adjust to the added scrutiny that coaching in Boston brings as opposed to Tampa. Theo Epstein and the Red Sox management will look closely at Martinez and his potential ability to be a big-league manager in a big market.
No. 3 Bobby Valentine
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If the Red Sox collapse showed anything about what this group of players needs in a manager, it is that they need someone who is not afraid to get in his players' faces when they are underperforming or misbehaving in the clubhouse.
Valentine is a strong personality with a great baseball mind and experience as a major league manager both in Texas and Flushing, where he managed the National League champion 2000 Mets. He became a manager at the young, ripe age of 35, and now at 61, he is very experienced but also not to old to lack energy.
It will take the Sox a bit of persuading to get Valentine to leave his job at ESPN, but I'm sure they will try and get him to come in for an interview. Again, Valentine would demand his players respect—something that is very much needed right now in Boston.
No. 4 Sandy Alomar Jr.
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Here, I'm throwing out a name that I really haven't seen mentioned that much, but it's someone who I think could potentially be a fit for the Red Sox managerial position.
Sandy was a long-time catcher in baseball throughout the 90s who enjoyed a career that included six All-Star appearances, the 1990 AL Rookie of the Year award and an induction into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame. He has been well acclaimed while acting as the first-base coach for his Indians and has surely been mentioned in the White Sox position. He recently received a promotion to bench coach in Cleveland.
If there's anything I know about the Alomar family, especially from his brother, the Hall of Famer Roberto, it's that they are quite fiery, which would be very positive in the Red Sox success. It has often been said that catchers make the strongest managers because of their leadership and knowledge of the game, and it is also possible that Alomar would connect well with the Hispanic players that play a big role on the Sox, like David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro and Alfredo Aceves.
No. 5 Joe Torre
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Yes, it's crazy.
But it may actually be plausible. Maybe.
Joe Torre would bring a major stir in Boston, and every Red Sox fan I have talked to would be incredibly excited if this were to happen. Things didn't end well in New York for Torre, and I'm sure there is a flame inside of him that would love to have a chance to take the "Evil Empire" down.
That being said, Torre is 71 years old and has a very good job with MLB right now. It would be hard to pry him away from that, and at his age, the Sox would only be able to use him for a few years.
Unless they have a young guy (Jason Varitek?) that is willing to sit behind and learn from Torre for two or three years, in preparation to be the new manager, I don't see the Red Sox going with a guy that would be this short term.
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Eh, just some other names I've either heard thrown around or will throw out there myself.
Demarlo Hale and Tim Bogar are the only internal options, and while both have managerial potentials, I see the Red Sox making a bigger move than this.
Jim Riggleman, former Nationals manager
Alan Trammell, current Diamondbacks bench coach
Lou Piniella, former long time Manager
Pete Mackanin, current Phillies bench coach
Don Baylor, current Diamondbacks hitting coach
John Gibbons, former Blue Jays manager (currently in Royals org.)
Glenn Hoffman, current Padres third-base coach (only if his brother comes too)
Jason Varitek? You never know.
Please comment with any other ideas!