ST. LOUIS — DeMarlo Hale’s interview today should be the final one conducted by the Red Sox in their search to replace Bobby Valentine, according to general manager Ben Cherington.
In addition to a solid group of managerial candidates who have already been interviewed — Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, Padres special assistant to the general manager Brad Ausmus, and Yankees bench coach Tony Pena — the Red Sox have begun compensation talks with the Blue Jays to land current manager and former Sox pitching coach John Farrell, as confirmed by industry sources.
Hale is an experienced baseball man who has served many roles in a few organizations, including Boston,Texas, and Baltimore. He was Terry Francona’s bench coach after Brad Mills left the Red Sox to take the manager’s job in Houston and he served the job well.
Hale is tremendous with players — good with pats on the back and kicks in the pants.
He was instrumental in the success of Michael Young early in his Rangers career and also coached Alex Rodriguez in Texas. In Boston he was a big force in Jacoby Ellsbury’s development, and he’s been a big factor in helping turn Orioles rookie Manny Machado into a superb third baseman even though his primary position (and likely future home) is shortstop.
The Red Sox should have a manager by the end of the World Series, which will give the hire enough time to have input on offseason moves and select his own coaches.
Over the past few days fans have asked me to rank the candidates by their chance to land the job. It’s hard to tell, but my best guess is:
1. John Farrell — Cherington worked well with Farrell in Boston. The other big factor is Farrell’s familiarity with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey. He also really likes Felix Doubront. Of course, most of the work with the pitching staff is left to the pitching coach, so Farrell’s overall impact on the pitching staff might not be as significant as one would think. Farrell has a presence about him. There are concerns about his record in Toronto, and the Toronto media has pointed out some strategical issues. But after it became obvious that Cherington and Valentine were on different planets, communication between manager and GM is now vital and this seems to be the best combination.
2. Brad Ausmus — There’s a growing feeling among baseball people that if the Red Sox and Jays can’t reach compensation on Farrell, Ausmus could emerge as the leading candidate. Ausmus interviewed Wednesday, and while he would not get into specifics about how things went, it would be tough to imagine it didn’t go well. Ausmus is a well-spoken, passionate baseball man who understands the Red Sox Nation culture having grown up in Cheshire, Conn., and graduated from Dartmouth. Since he’s been retired he’s spent more time at his Cape Cod home and would love to be the Red Sox manager. Ausmus is like a top prospect who you know will be a successful major leaguer. There’s also a trend in baseball — thanks to Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura — that ex-players who are smart and students of the game can skip the minor league managing thing and go right to managing in the bigs.
3. Tim Wallach — He’s another coach who is universally expected to have a successful managing career in the major leagues. He was described as “a lot like Terry Francona but without the humor.” He’s a former hitting coach and a former Gold Glove third baseman, so he knows defense as well as offense. He’s handled some of the Dodgers’ top prospects, including the ones recently obtained by the Red Sox. He’s received high marks from Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten, who feels Wallach is ready for this chapter.
4. Tony Pena — All of the people hung up on his record with Kansas City don’t believe Pena was a good manager. But like any manager, he’s as good as the talent on his roster. Pena had young Royals teams playing hard and he was the 2003 AL Manager of the Year when he led the Royals to their only winning record (83-79) since 1994.
5. DeMarlo Hale — Great attributes. Don’t know if his ties with Francona will hurt him in the process, but there’s no question he would do an outstanding job and work with the Sox brass well if selected.