STARBUCKS, NEAR WRIGLEY - As I sit here for Day 2 of the Theo Epstein: Decision 2012, wondering who the next Red Sox general manager should be.
1. Ben Cherington - The clearcut choice. He's been a Theo Epstein lieutenant for many years and has been with the Red Sox organization for many years wearing different hats.
Very bright, thorough manager who would continue the same philosophy of the Epstein regime. But do the Red Sox want to continue the philosophy of the Epstein regime, or do they want a new approach?
2. Allard Baird - Another insider in the Epstein group. Baird was the general manager of the Kansas City Royals and is a very competent talent evaluator. He's done a nice job with Boston's evaluations of people like Alfredo Aceves and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
He's definitely tied into Epstein, and could be heading to Chicago as well.
3. Josh Byrnes - Been here and worked under Epstein. He was the first of the Epstein assistants to flee, running the Arizona Diamondbacks until he was fired. Definitely out there and available, though he too could wind up with Epstein.
4. J.P. Ricciardi - The Worcester native, currently a special assistant to Sandy Alderson in New York, had taken a job with Epstein over the winter as a special assistant, but took a larger role with the Mets. Experienced GM in the AL East division for many years in Toronto. Has placed about 35 players in the big leagues. Like Epstein, had his share of bad contracts including Vernon Wells and Alex Rios, but would be a solid choice.
5. Billy Beane Turned the Red Sox down in 2002 and can't see him wanting to come here. He's a West Coast guy with a young family he would not want to displace.
6. Andrew Friedman - The Rays GM is a great choice but probably unrealistic.
7. Omar Minaya - Former Mets GM who has the big market experience.
8. Rick Hahn - White Sox assistant GM went to Harvard and knows about the Red Sox experience.
9. Joe Garagiola Jr. - Executive with MLB, Did a fine job building the D-Backs when they were good and won a championship.
10. Al Avila - The Tigers' assistant GM has done a terrific job identifying top talent for the Tigers.
11. Ned Colletti - The Dodger GM would probably love to flee.
12. Larry Beinfest - The Marlins GM is under contract, but would probably love the chance to to be able to rub a few nickles together and acquire some good players.
13. Doug Melvin - Worked in Boston for a year and did a nice job building the Brewers this season.
14. Pat Gillick - The Hall of Famer probably doesn't want the headache and way too old school for John Henry. The man doesn't even own a cell phone.
15. Jerry DiPoto - Former Red Sox scout and assistant GM in Arizona. Has a big future as the head of an organization.
Would love to hear your thoughts, but make them realistic. Brian Cashman isn't walking through that door.