There are no game-changers out there if the Red Sox decide to replace manager Bobby Valentine.
So just throw a bunch of names in a hat, have a ceremony at Fenway Park, and let Wally the Green Monster pick the name.
And then they can do it again for a third straight year if that manager can’t get the job done, either.
No one should be lamenting the fact that Ben Cherington didn’t get to hire Dale Sveum over Valentine. And neither Gene Lamont, Torey Lovullo, nor John Farrell, for that matter, would have made a difference.
The Red Sox would have been lousy regardless of the manager, and the same can be said in Cleveland, where Manny Acta had to fall on his sword; in Minnesota, where Ron Gardenhire did all he could; in Chicago, where Sveum was in a rebuilding situation with the Cubs; and in Toronto, where Farrell had three starting pitchers and Jose Bautista go down.
Whether it was a rash of injuries or underachieving players, or simply a lack of talent, all of these teams had problems the manager couldn’t really control.
John Henry is right to say — as he often has — that this season wasn’t Valentine’s fault.
But if the Sox think the chaos was too much, and that they want someone more robotic, they will be hiring their second manager in less than a year.
Farrell remains the prize, from what we’re hearing, but if the vibe is based on Cherington’s remark on WEEI that he doesn’t want to spend as much time on the manager this offseason, then the choice might be current bench coach Tim Bogar.
Certainly, you never know who is going to be the next really good manager.
The Sox could go the newly popular “never managed” route, as the White Sox did with Robin Ventura. Though the White Sox may finish out of the playoffs, he had a relatively good season in Chicago. Of course, he could be a bum next year.
In St. Louis, Mike Matheny did a nice job replacing Tony La Russa, especially without Chris Carpenter for much of the season and without Albert Pujols at all. He still had a talented team with a good pitching staff. So if the world champions lose a future Hall of Fame manager, and then make the playoffs with a manager who had no experience, what does that tell you?
If the Red Sox do fire Valentine in the next few days, I’ll bet you that senior adviser Bill James will have some influence. He probably has a formula to measure Valentine’s effectiveness in comparison to other managers in the league.
Why not? Pick a guy out of a hat or use a formula. What’s the difference?
The Red Sox are still trying to figure out whether they did the right thing by Terry Francona, who will soon come out with a book with the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy that may not be flattering to them. Francona has already received all of his money from the Red Sox, so he can chirp.
Similarly, if the Sox drop the ax on Valentine, they’ll be wondering if one year was a fair evaluation when he had to use a team-record 56 players, 27 of whom went on the disabled list.
It had to be intimidating for Cherington to work with a man who had 16 years of major league managerial experience, and somewhat uncomfortable for Valentine knowing that Cherington didn’t pick him. They both made a solid effort to work together, and did at times, but they seem worlds apart on how to run a baseball team.
So how do the Sox bridge this gap if they’re moving on? What type will they go with next?
I’m guessing they will need someone who will offer less pushback, who will be really nice with the players and not hurt anyone’s feelings publicly. In other words, after one year of what they said they wanted, they’ll go back to what they didn’t want.
So what names should Wally consider pulling out of the hat?
Here are a few suggestions.
The rising young stars: Toronto minor league manager Mike Redmond; former Astros catcher Brad Ausmus; Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg (who declined an interview for the Pawtucket job two years ago); former Sox third baseman Mike Lowell; former Sox catcher Jason Varitek; Reno manager Brett Butler; former Sox hero Dave Roberts (Padres first base coach); Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Best bet there: Ausmus. He’s a guy the Sox really respect, he owns a house on the Cape, and he turned down the Astros job.
The bench coach types: Oakland bench coach Chip Hale; Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo; former Sox bench coach and current Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale; excellent Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield; Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez; Boston bench coach Tim Bogar; Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams; Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont; Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach; Padres third base coach Glenn Hoffman (former Sox shortstop); Marlins bench coach Joey Cora; Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu; Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin.
Best bet there: Bogar. They know him.
The been there/done that candidates: Former Houston manager Brad Mills; former Nationals and Cubs manager Jim Riggleman; former Phillies manager Larry Bowa; former Royals manager Tony Pena; former Orioles manager Dave Trembley; former Indians manager Manny Acta; former Royals manager Trey Hillman; former Cubs and Rockies manager Don Baylor; former Brewers and A’s manager Ken Macha; former Braves manager Bobby Cox; former Reds manager Jerry Narron.
Best bet there: Mills. He has Francona ties, and they are familiar with his work.
The what-if-they’re-available group: Blue Jays manager John Farrell; Rockies manager Jim Tracy; Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Best bet there: Farrell.
So who is your pick, Wally?Nick Cafardo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.