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Dan Shaughnessy

Has situation ever been mismanaged

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / November 29, 2011
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Tomorrow marks the two-month anniversary of Terry Francona’s last day on the job and still the Red Sox are without a manager.

The Clarence Thomas hearings were swifter and tidier than this.

The world champion St. Louis Cardinals needed 12 days to find a manager after Tony La Russa resigned. The Red Sox are working on Week No. 9. Any day now, right?

Great urgency. Owner John Henry spent the weekend in Liverpool for the big Manchester City game (1-1, which beats nil-nil every time) and managerial candidate Bobby Valentine has gone back to Japan to be worshipped for a few days. Meanwhile, Grady Sizemore signed with the Indians and other free agents will be making up their minds while the Red Sox go through their winter like a riderless horse at the front of a funeral procession.

Looks as if we’ve got another power struggle on Yawkey Way, except this time it’s Sox chief executive officer Larry Lucchino vs. general manager Ben Cherington, each pushing different candidates for manager.

Bobby V appears to be Larry’s guy. Gene Lamont looks like Ben’s guy. And you never know when a mystery man might emerge.

The idea that the Sox are still in some kind of managerial discovery phase is preposterous. Is it really possible that they are poring over data, trying to make up their minds? Valentine is 61. Lamont is 64. They’ve both been in professional baseball for parts of the last six decades. Their résumés are voluminous and easy to access.

So this isn’t about gathering information or interviewing people. It’s about who gets to make the call.

It’s Larry-Theo, the Next Generation.

I reached Lucchino briefly in his office yesterday morning. He said he couldn’t talk to me. He said there would be no announcement yesterday.

I followed that up with, “Do you have any comment on how indecisive this makes you guys look?’’

“Goodbye, Dan,’’ he answered. “Nice to talk to you.’’

Click.

Dial tone.

OK. Maybe today. Or Friday. Certainly it would be nice if the Sox had a manager when all major league teams start their winter meetings in Dallas Monday (Liverpool has a big game in London against Fulham that day).

It’s always nice to have a manager when you are trying to assemble a roster and avoid finishing in third place for a third straight season. Think a manager might have had an opinion on the wisdom of keeping Jonathan Papelbon? Having a manager in place might make it easier for David Ortiz to decide if he wants to accept salary arbitration.

We have reached the point at which this is beyond embarrassment. The Sox risk losing players now. Does Mark Buehrle want to sign with the Sox when he doesn’t know who the manager or pitching coach is going to be? Carlos Beltran?

We know that Dale Sveum was the manager Cherington wanted. Sveum was brought to ownership after four baseball operations executives interviewed five low-profile candidates. When the owners rejected Sveum, Valentine’s name emerged and we were told that Bobby V’s been in the running all along.

Lamont has emerged as the safe pick. But he’s not even a bench coach with the Tigers. He’s a 64-year-old third base coach. Can the Sox really bring in Lamont after telling us that Francona had to go?

When Francona left we were told the Sox needed more discipline. Supposedly the inmates were running the place in the final days of Tito. What happens if they bring in Lamont: Casino nights in the dugout?

Valentine is a loose cannon, but he’s not afraid to rip players. That’s why most of us in the media love the idea of Bobby V in the corner office.

Interesting information surfaced Sunday in the form of an online column by former New York Times Hall of Fame writer Murray Chass. Chass covered Valentine when Valentine managed the Mets and was not a fan. They hated one another (John McNamara will verify that I have first-hand experience with this dynamic). In his column, Chass crushed Valentine. There was a lot of personal stuff and a considerable amount of old stuff, but a couple of things stood out: Lucchino told Chass that Cherington would speak for the organization, adding, “We’ve had too many voices speaking.’’

The Sox CEO also asked Chass, “What do you think of him [Valentine]?’’

Lucchino thought he was speaking off the record, but it’s interesting that he would be polling a veteran writer to get more background on Valentine.

There should be an announcement soon, unless there’s an emergency in Liverpool or Bobby V gets seduced by the Nippon Ham Fighters and never comes home.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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