The Red Sox will move on to their third manager in three years, as Bobby Valentine was dismissed after just one season and a 69-93record, the worst by a Red Sox team since 1966.
The dysfunctional organization is changing managers as if it is changing socks.
On deck could be Toronto manager John Farrell, who has had an unsuccessful two-year tenure with the Blue Jays. Farrell, who is still under contract for one more year, barely avoided last place in the AL East — the Sox claimed that — but Boston management’s familiarity with him makes him the top choice.
When he was the pitching coach in Boston from 2006-10, he showed an ability to work with the team’s youthful baseball operations department. For that reason, there is probably some behind-the-scenes work going on at higher levels — perhaps between Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino and Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, who are close friends — to get a deal done.
But if not Farrell, then who?
The choice here would be Brad Ausmus. Like Valentine a Connecticut native, Ausmus is a young, smart baseball guy who would seem to fit the culture. The former major league catcher has a great demeanor and can certainly relate to the modern player, which is something Valentine had problems with.
Ausmus, a Dartmouth graduate who currently works with the San Diego Padres as a special assignment scout, turned down a chance to compete for the Houston Astros managing job, but may be more open to the Red Sox. He also owns a home on Cape Cod.
The Red Sox could reward Valentine’s bench coach, Tim Bogar, who has also worked with Joe Maddon and Terry Francona and seems to have been groomed for the job. His tenure with Valentine was rocky after the organization suggested Bogar be considered for the job as Valentine’s bench coach. But Bogar knows the players and is familiar with the way general manager Ben Cherington wants things run.
Jason Varitek is often mentioned as a possibility, but the question is whether he is ready to step back in the dugout and devote his time to a very tough job. Varitek has accepted a position as special assistant to Cherington, but the former Sox catcher wants to work out of his Georgia home so he can spend more time with his daughters.
Another name mentioned quite a bit is Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, who has paid his dues as a minor league manager and received high marks.
Former Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills spent 2½ long years in Houston as manager and would love to return to Boston to manage the Red Sox. He is another guy familiar with the Red Sox Way and should fit in seamlessly.
DeMarlo Hale, another of Francona’s former bench coaches, has done a great job as an Orioles coach, working with Baltimore’s young players. He helped Manny Machado make the conversion to third base. Hale has a great demeanor and is respected by players.
Former Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo, current Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr., Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont, and Tampa Bay bench coach Dave Martinez are other potential candidates.
Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler, Reno (Triple A) manager Brett Butler, and Ryne Sandberg, who is managing in the Philadelphia organization, are also possible choices. It does not appear that future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa would want to manage the Red Sox, but crazier things have happened. La Russa’s personality might be too strong for the Sox front office, which is a huge factor in the decision.
Valentine was a fish out of water from the moment he was hired to change the “beer and chicken” culture of the Red Sox clubhouse. The push for change was met with great resistance by veteran players that management did not clean out until the megadeal with the Dodgers in late August got rid of $264 million worth of bad contracts in Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett.
Those efforts by Valentine were never supported by management, starting with a remark he made in April during an interview on Channel 7. Responding to a question about Kevin Youkilis, Valentine said of the third baseman, “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.”
The comment didn’t go over well in the Red Sox clubhouse, with Dustin Pedroia saying, “That’s not the way we do things around here.” But Pedroia eventually became a Valentine supporter.
Valentine often couldn’t contain his emotions and said things he shouldn’t have said. But that should not have been a surprise, because he has always been that way. He never deviated from who he was, as much as the Red Sox tried to suppress him. Continued...