We asked the question yesterday whether the Red Sox should keep Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield next season.
Nearly 13,000 readers voted in the poll. A few dozen of them also e-mailed to suggest that the Red Sox hire Varitek as their manager and retain Wakefield as a coach.
I understand that sentiment. Wakefield and Varitek have been with the team for a long time and have handled themselves with professionalism throughout. But the odds of them staying on as the manager or a coach are very slim.
For starters, both have said they want to continue playing. Whether that is in Boston or somewhere else, it is certainly their prerogative to continue trying to play. It also would be incredibly difficult to go from playing one year to coaching or managing the next. Most players take some time with that transition, either by taking some time off or working in the minors.
It also would be tough to go from playing with somebody to managing them or coaching them. There has to be a line and drawing that line is difficult if you’re too close to that player.
The other reason is financial. Varitek has earned approximately $65 million in his career and Wakefield $54 million. They simply won’t need jobs once they retire from playing. There are some prominent former players who decide to stay in the game (Don Mattingly, for instance) but most are content to enjoy the fruits of their success. Can’t blame them for that.
Coaching and managing is hard work. You arrive at spring training in early February and for 162 games, you’re at the ballpark four or five hours before the game preparing scouting reports, throwing batting practice or watching video. It’s also a very transient profession and not a particularly well-paid one when compared to playing. Most coaches are guys who need jobs and they put up with the rigors.
Varitek is getting married this offseason and has three daughters from his first marriage. A few months ago, when I asked him about the idea of managing, he looked at me like I was crazy.
“Maybe someday,” he said. “A long time from now. Maybe.”
As for Wakefield, I’ve never once got the impression that he would want to coach. He’s a smart guy and surely he could learn the profession. But let’s face it, he throws a knuckleball and his skill set as a pitcher doesn’t exactly translate to coaching.
The Red Sox are a major market team built to win now. They’re not the kind of team where you break in an inexperienced manager and/or coach. Jason might be a great candidate 10 years from now. But in 2012? Not a chance.