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Looking at the field of candidates

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 6, 2011 03:26 PM

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The Red Sox have been without a manager for nearly a week now and the status of GM Theo Epstein remains uncertain. John Henry (with Larry Lucchino at his side) will appear on WEEI tomorrow morning and perhaps more knowledge will be gained.

It's virtually unprecedented for a team owner to make a major personnel move like this and not take unfiltered questions from journalists who cover the team. But such is the state of the Red Sox.

As for the managerial search, here's a look at their pool of possible candidates:

MAJOR LEAGUE COACHES
Sandy Alomar Jr. (Indians), Joey Cora (Marlins), Jim Hickey (Rays), Trey Hillman (Dodgers), Torey Lovullo (Blue Jays), Pete Mackanin (Phillies), Dave Martinez (Rays), Tony Pena (Yankees), Bo Porter (Nationals), Rob Thomson (Yankees), Don Wakamatsu (Blue Jays), Ron Wotus (Giants).

Analysis: One of these men could well be the next manager. The Red Sox hired a coach the last time when they selected Terry Francona. If Epstein remains as GM, he would want somebody willing to listen to what the Baseball Operations staff has to say and a coach stepping up to the managers seat would have little choice but to do that.

CURRENT MAJOR LEAGUE MANAGERS
Bruce Bochy (Giants), Joe Maddon (Rays), Eric Wedge (Mariners)

Analysis: These guys are long shots given they are under contract with other teams. But it's worth noting that Bochy left the Padres (where he worked under Lucchino) to go to the Giants with a year left on his deal and he is said to be dissatisfied with San Francisco after a trying year. Maddon was a finalist when Francona was hired but is not the type of person to abandon what he has going in Florida.

FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE MANAGERS
Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Jim Riggleman, Joe Torre

Analysis: Piniella would certainly shake things up in the clubhouse. But at 68, does he want the hassle? And the Red Sox are not set up to have a my-way-or-else type as the manager. Torre would be a great choice. But he's 71 and has a well-paying job with MLB that requires a much smaller percentage of his time. Riggleman did a good job with then Nationals before walking away in a contract dispute. But the Sox can do better than that. The same is true of Randolph, whose claim to fame as a manager was presiding over a Mets collapse.

IN-HOUSE CANDIDATES
None

Analysis: DeMarlo Hale should (and likely will) get a chance to manage. But he is seen as too closely aligned to Francona to get the job. Tim Bogar was interviewed by the Blue Jays last season. But could the Sox promote somebody who was viewed as an erratic third base coach? That seems unlikely. And while I understand the sentiment of fans, Jason Varitek is not going to be the manager a year removed from playing. In a few years when his daughters have grown up? Maybe.

OTHERS
A.J. Hinch (Padres exec), Joe McEwing (AAA manager for the White Sox), Ryne Sandberg (AAA manager for the White Sox), Bobby Valentine (ESPN)

Analysis: The Sox could venture down a side road for their man. Hinch was hired by Epstein protege Josh Byrnes to manage the Diamondbacks last year and both got canned in July. McEwing will make a fine manager someday, but is only 38 and has no major league coaching experience. Sandberg was rejected by the Cubs last fall then turned down the Pawtucket job before going to the Phillies organization. Think he wishes he had taken the Pawtucket job now? Valentine has not been contacted and is not seen as a viable candidate.

CRAZY TIME
Terry Francona

Analysis: Hey, Theo Epstein once quit as GM and came back. Could Francona quit (or get fired or whatever you want to call it) and come back? That would take a confluence of events that seem wholly unlikely to happen. The owners were furious when Francona accused them of a lack of support because, after all, a $161 million payroll is a lot of support. Plus his personal issues likely preclude a return to Boston. Best for everybody to move on at this point and just be Facebook friends for a while before maybe meeting for coffee in a few years and talking over old times.

One suggestion for the Red Sox: Make your candidates available to the media when they come to town for interviews. It makes sense as an evaluation tool. A big part of being manager of a team like the Red Sox is having the ability to be an effective team spokesman twice a day for 162 days and all of spring training. There's not much point in hiring a manager who can't deal with the media. That only leads to trouble.

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