Who Should the Red Sox Hire to Replace Bobby Valentine?
It's barely late April and already it is fair game to think about who will take over for Bobby V. Let's face it. As of this writing, the team has a 4-8 record. Bobby Valentine's time in Boston is to managers what Chevy Chase was to late night talk show hosts.
He couldn't even make it to Patriots Day without controversy. No doubt Terry Francona's return to Fenway Park this weekend is at least partially fueled by a sense of vindication that his successor is making Boston fans pine for the days of Grady Little.
Red Sox fans are wondering how long this will last. Will he finish the season? Will he resign before Memorial Day? Will be be fired mid-game?
But when it ends, who will take over?
Assuming that it won't be Terry Francona, who might be best served staying at ESPN with an "I told you so" grin on his face for the next 20 years, there are some other interesting possibilities. (And no, Gene LaMont is not an interesting possibility.)
Here are a few suggestions.
Sandy Alomar Jr.
The current Indians bench coach was a candidate last winter and is an intriguing choice now. Sure, he has never been a manager. But he has done everything else.
He caught in the big leagues for 18-plus seasons, making the All Star Team six times. He would have been the World Series MVP in 1997 if pitcher Jose Mesa could have held onto the lead in Game 7.
As a catcher for nearly two decades in the big leagues, he called games and was brought in to mentor young catchers with the White Sox, Rockies, Rangers, Dodgers and Mets.
He has experience as a instructor, a coach and a bench coach.
In other words, for a quarter of a century he has been thinking baseball strategy on the major league level. And he has the on-field success to back up his instruction.
He also beat Mariano Rivera in a playoff series. Not that that matters. It is just worth bringing up for Red Sox fans.
Someone will be the recipient of that positive baseball knowledge. Why not the Red Sox? Sandy Alomar Jr. is a man who was raised in a baseball family with a Hall-of-Famer brother to boot!
Who can hear "Sandy Alomar Jr." and think "What the heck does HE know?"
It is incredible that Bob Brenly never landed another managing job.
He won a World Series as a manager. And not just any World Series. He managed the winning team of the greatest World Series of the 2000s. It was Brenly's Diamondbacks that dethroned the invincible Yankees and did so despite all the post-September 11th emotions and beat Mariano Rivera.
His first year, they won the World Series. His second year, they won the Division. His third year, they slipped to third place but still had a winning record. Then in 2004, his fourth year, he managed a gutted Diamondbacks team. He was fired mid-season.
3-and-a-half seasons. Two Division Titles and a World Championship. He has not landed a new managing job, but in that same time the likes of Jim Riggleman, Terry Collins and Grady Little did?
Sure, he has a nice comfy broadcasting gig, but he must want another shot to show 2001 was no fluke.
How much of that World Series was because of Brenly's leadership? Who knows? But he seems to have a player-friendly demeanor and would be the anti-Bobby Valentine.
Plus, his being a Yankee slayer should make him popular in Boston.
Ozzie Guillen's Consigliere is a sharp baseball mind who has shown a lot of loyalty to his Don. He wouldn't even take over the White Sox for the final few games last year after Ozzie turned in his resignation. No doubt that was a sign of respect.
And when Ozzie's thesis on Fidel Castro was not received warmly, it was Cora who filled in as manager for five games.
But would that loyalty last if he is given the reins of his own team?
A smart baseball man (and Vanderbilt graduate) he had an 11 year playing career and managed in the Mets farm system before joining Guillen's coaching staff in Chicago and now Miami.
He might be the right man in Boston, if he can break free from Don Ozzie.
The fact that Chris Chambliss has managed as many major league games as Maya Angelou is truly staggering.
As a player, he was an All-Star and a World Series hero. He also hit one of the most dramatic home runs in post season history when he propelled the Yankees into the 1976 World Series with his ALCS ending shot.
By the late 1980s, he was a minor league manager. He was the Sporting News Minor League Manager of the Year in 1990 when he led the London Tigers to the Eastern League Title. He managed as recently as the 2009 season with the AAA Charlotte Knights.
He earned six World Series rings (two as a player and four as a member of Joe Torre's Yankee staff in the 2000s). He has been a major league coach with the Mets, Reds and currently the Seattle Mariners.
What else does this guy have to do to merit even a shot to manage? Robin Ventura and A. J. Hinch got hired to be major league managers without even a day of minor league coaching experience.
Chambliss has has experience over four different decades. There is no doubt in my mind that he would make the most out of his shot to manage in the big leagues.
He has certainly paid his dues.
If the Red Sox wanted to go back to that 2004 style of baseball without having to have the awkward reunion with Francona, they can easily turn to his former bench coach.
When Mills was in the Red Sox organization, he was a respected member of the coaching staff. He was Francona's right-hand man for both the 2004 and 2007 World Series titles. He also has over a decade of minor league managerial experience.
He left the Red Sox to manage the Astros, which has not exactly worked out as planned. This is his third season in Houston and after last year's 106 loss season and a change of ownership, his days in Houston might be limited.
But he has not exactly had the 1927 Yankees in terms of talent on his team. And some times it is good to get a manager who made his rookie mistakes with another team. That certainly worked when the Red Sox brought in Terry Francona.
His arrival might be a welcomed sight for Red Sox players who are not fans of Valentine's change of direction.
Raise your hand if you thought Jose Oquendo was going to take over managing the Cardinals after Tony LaRussa abruptly retired after the 2011 World Series.
Chances are a lot of you have your hands up.
The Cardinals third base coach logged 12 seasons in the majors as a jack-of-all-trades player and tormentor of Atlee Hammaker in the 1987 NLCS.
As a coach he logged in 14 years in the Cardinals organization. First he coached in the minor league system and since 1999 has been on the big league squad as both a bench coach and third base coach.
A smart baseball man, he seemed like the natural heir to the LaRussa throne. But instead it went to Mike Matheny, leaving Oquendo in the third base coach's box.
He has been up for managerial positions before. It might be his time now.
Like Brenly, the fact that Tony Pena has not landed a second big league managing job is puzzling.
In his 18-year career, Pena was an All-Star, a multiple-Gold Glove winner and a former Red Sox player. He also stabbed the Red Sox in the heart with his 13th inning walk-off homer in Game 1 of the 1995 Division Series.
He managed the New Orleans Zephyrs to the 1999 PCL Eastern Division Title as well as managing teams in the Winter Caribbean leagues.
And as manager of the Royals in 2003, he lead Kansas City to their only winning record since the 1994 strike. He was named American League Manager of the Year but was dumped two years later.
Since then he has been on the Yankees coaching staff and won an World Series ring in 2009.
How often is a Manager of the Year winner available? Pena has the chops and the experience. The Yankees probably would not let him go, but how can it hurt to ask?
How often is a Hall of Famer available to manage a team? And not just any Hall of Famer but one willing to put in the work in the minor leagues.
The beloved Ryno managed in single A and took Peoria to the 2007 Midwest League playoffs. In 2008 he managed AA Tennessee. The next year he was managing the Cubs top farm club in Iowa and was named 2010 Manager of the Year in the PCL.
But when Lou Piniella quit in 2010, Sandberg was passed over for Mike Quade. Ryno left the Cubs for the Phillies (his original organization as a player). He managed the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs to the playoffs and was named Baseball America Minor League manager of the year.
A Hall of Famer willing to work and has delivered results is available? He isn't going to manage the Phillies anytime soon with Charlie Manuel a fixture on the team.
Bring him over to the Red Sox. A Hall of Famer should not be wearing an IronPigs uniform!
The Captain shall return!
Varitek probably played one or two seasons too long and his leadership role with the Red Sox is somewhat suspect after the undisciplined collapse of the 2011 Boston pitching staff.
But he is as respected as any player to wear a Red Sox uniform. In a team filled with superstars, it was Varitek who was the center of the 2004 and 2007 title teams.
As the current Red Sox are seeming to sour to Valentine's managerial skills, they may embrace the skills of their captain.
And not to go out on a limb, but chances are the fans will be happy with that move as well.
The 15th Caller on WEEI
When you listen to sports talk radio, it is obvious that the callers are much smarter than the manager or general manager. Just ask one. They know what trades to make, who to bench, how to set up the lineup and how to motivate the players.
They all cannot believe how incompetent the manager is and constantly preface their calls with "If I were manager, I would..." and proceed to impart some wisdom.
Well, it might be time to find out how smart the callers are.
Dave from Chelmsford. Murph from Everett. Duffy from Jamaica Plain. You guys think you are so smart? Here is your chance. Call in, be number 15 and you get to take control of the team.
You want Pedroia batting cleanup, Bard out of the rotation, and Ortiz to bunt when they put the shift on? Here's your chance.
You want to chew out the players while they are eating chicken or send players to the minors regardless of their options? Go ahead.
You think that is a recipe for disaster? Perhaps. But how can it be worse than what Valentine has done so far?