A week removed from the sign-stealing scandal that rocked MLB, the Boston Red Sox must now turn to a managerial search, with just a month before the start of Spring Training.
The parting with former manager, Alex Cora, has brought about immediate speculation from the Red Sox fan base and media as to who the next manager should be. There’s even a betting line in a Las Vegas sports book, with former catcher and team captain, Jason Varitek, listed as the odds-on favorite to take the position. Current coaching staff members – Ron Roenicke, Tim Hyers, and Carlos Febles – have also been mentioned as possible successors to Cora. Looking outside the organization, former big league managers with lengthy resumes like Bruce Bochy, Mike Scioscia, and Dusty Baker, have also been mentioned, but to get any of them out of retirement would likely require a a sizable contract in both dollars and length, as well as some organizational say that may deter Chaim Bloom.
Today, I’d like to take a look a three managerial candidates that haven’t found their names in the headlines as the organization searches for the manager. The candidates are considered “long shots”, and at this point seem unlikely to even interview for the position, much less guide the Boston Red Sox on the field in 2020 and beyond. They are; however, qualified candidates, and we’ll make the case for each below…
Joey Cora, Third base Coach, Pittsburgh Pirates:
Yes, the name alone makes him a polarizing figure in the search, but he’s been on the short list for the next wave of managerial candidates for several years now. Like his brother, Joey is known as a “players coach”, connecting and motivating through unique personal relationships with each player on the roster. Cora’s impact on the players and game goes far beyond that, however. He’s a former first round draft pick (1985), and a former All-Star (1997), who played eleven seasons at the big league level. He’s been a successful minor league manager in the Cubs and Pirates organizations, and has a World Series ring from his time as a coach in the White Sox organization where he served as the third base coach and bench coach from 2004-2011. All in all, he’s been affiliated with professional baseball for 35 years, and while his last name may cause hesitancy from clubs looking to hire hire a new manager in the aftermath of the scandal(s) his brother was involved in, there’s little doubt that he will eventually become a Major League manager.
Ozzie Guillen, Former White Sox/Marlins manager:
Guillen, like Alex Cora, has always been known a “players manager”. His ability to command respect from veteran players and stars, as well as the connection to younger players and his influence on their development make him an intriguing fit for the now vacant position. Guillen’s resume includes a World Series ring from the White Sox in 2005, where he was the manager from 2004-2011. He also earned a World Series ring with the 2003 Florida Marlins, where he coached under Jack McKeon. Guillen’s tenure with the White Sox came to an end before the end of the 2011 season, as his inability to work cohesively with White Sox GM, Kenny Williams, led to his dismissal. It didn’t take long for Ozzie to land on his feet, as he was quickly hired by the Marlins to be the face of a transitioning franchise. The Marlins were remaking their brand, changing their logo, branding, and name (From the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins), and moving into a new ballpark located in the “Little Havana” district of Miami. His tenure with the Marlins was short lived, as he was fired as a result of making pro-Fidel Castro statements in the heavily populated Cuban community in Miami. The non-baseball stuff aside, Guillen has the experience and resume that make him a quality fit for the franchise. And while Guillen has carved his own path in the game, and his previous clashes with upper management may cause the Red Sox to proceed with caution, the timing and opportunity (2 open managerial positions), may represent the best chance of Guillen getting back into the game.
Ron Washington, Third Base Coach, Atlanta Braves:
The former Texas Rangers manager’s fall from grace is well documented. After managing the Rangers from 2007-2014, and taking the franchise to within one out of a World Series title in 2011, Washington resigned from his position amid rumors of extramarital affairs and substance abuse in September of 2014. On the field, however, Washington was a well respected manager by players and the front office alike. A “no-nonsense” manager, with a high baseball IQ, Washington presence in the Boston dugout would bring a stabilizing voice to a roster filled with high priced stars, and young talent alike. His ability to coach and motivate the players while allowing the front office to build the roster with little resistance, would allow first year baseball operations president, Chaim Bloom, to navigate through these troubling times knowing that the on-field product is in capable hands. His role in the development of young Atlanta Braves star, Ronald Acuna Jr. has been noteworthy, and that experience should prove useful as 23-year old third baseman, Rafael Devers, ascends into super-stardom.
There is a likely scenario that none of these potential candidates are ever interviewed or even considered for the position. Each of them come with his own set of circumstances that will allow the organization to be openly (and fairly) questioned by the fans and the media. But each is also qualified for the position. The Red Sox knew they had their guy in the offseason between 2017 and 2018, when they hired Cora. After winning the World Series in his first year as manager, hiring a new manager wasn’t on the checklist of things to do headed into this current offseason. And while the managerial pool is considerably thinner in mid-January that it would be in the beginning of November, there are still plenty of quality candidates to consider. Even with Spring Training rapidly approaching, the organization shouldn’t panic. This hire will likely be the most important move of the offseason, and the Red Sox should consider all of the possibilities before making it.