The Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell on Wednesday, ending a five-year relationship that started with a World Series title and ended with back-to-back losses in the first round of the MLB playoffs.
The decision was not entirely unexpected, and based on comments from general manager Dave Dombrowski went deeper than results on the field. That indicates Farrell was a dead-man walking regardless of the team’s disappointing loss to Houston in the ALDS.
It also might explain why Dombrowski already seemed to have a good idea of what he’s looking for in his next manager. When addressing the media on Wednesday, Dombrowski strongly hinted that experience would be a deciding factor when the time comes. Of course, he also left open the possibility for a surprise or two.
“If you haven’t been a major-league manager or coach, you’re probably not gonna make the cut. “I think managerial [experience] helps,” Dombrowski said courtesy of NBC Sports Boston. “I don’t think it’s of 100 percent necessity. But I think being in a dugout during a game, seeing what the manager encounters is probably helpful, yeah, I do think it is. I do think it would be difficult for a person more so here than in some other places to walk directly onto the field without some on-field managerial experience at some level or big-league coaching.”
If we know anything about managerial searches, it’s that anything can happen once the interview process begins. Teams will change course in a heartbeat if an unexpected candidate wows them. It’s with that in mind that we offer up some potential candidates, ranging from likely favorites, to one sure fan favorite, to the longshots who could emerge.
Ron Gardenhire: He spent 13 seasons as the Minnesota Twins skipper before being fired after the 2014 season. There, Gardenhire had six first-place finishes. He helped his case for getting another manager job by having a successful year as the bench coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who transformed from a 69-93 team to a 93-69 team. Dombrowski, undoubtedly, knows Gardenhire’s rep from their days in the AL Central together. (Oz)
Alex Cora: Cora, 41, is just a few years out of playing in the big leagues. So far, he’s worked for ESPN as an analyst and joined the Astros this season as their bench coach. He’s been mentioned for a while now as a man who will manage someday, but could someday be now? Coming off the Astros’ division-winning season, his stock has never been higher. If Cora doesn’t get the Red Sox job, there’s a good chance he’ll be managing somewhere next season. And Astros players, like Carlos Correa, are already bummed out. (Oz)
Brad Ausmus: Ausmus is on the open market after being dismissed this season by the Detroit Tigers. Would the Red Sox want a manager who just failed in Detroit? Under normal circumstances, probably not. But Dombrowski hired Ausmus to be the Tigers manager in Detroit with no experience. He must like him. (Oz)
THE PEOPLE’S CHOICE
Jason Varitek: Go to Fenway Park, and you’ll still see Varitek jerseys. He was a beloved Red Sox lifer, who was their catcher from 1997-2011 and their captain in that stretch too. Varitek fits the mold of the “manager” type — ex-catcher, great rep in the clubhouse. Only problem? He’s never managed or even coached in the big leagues. He’s had a Red Sox front-office gig since retiring, which means he’s worked closely with Dombrowski already. And the fans love him. They’ve been calling for Varitek to be their next manager for a couple years now. (Oz)
OTHER NAMES YOU KNOW
Sandy Alomar: It seems inevitable that Alomar will get a chance to manage. He’s reportedly interviewed well for several teams and has been in serious consideration more than once. For whatever reason, a job hasn’t been offered, but it’s possible Boston is the fit he’s been looking for. Alomar has been coaching under Terry Francona with the Indians, so he’d know what to expect and wouldn’t be a tough guy to sell fans on in Boston. (Townsend)
Mike Redmond: The former Marlins skipper is reportedly under consideration in Philadelphia and Detroit. It stands to reason Boston would share that sentiment. Redmond served as the Colorado Rockies bench coach this season and oversaw an impressive turnaround alongside manager Bud Black. A lot of people thought Redmond got a raw deal too in Miami, so that only adds to the intrigue surrounding him. (Townsend)
Brad Mills: They know Mills in Boston. He was Terry Francona’s bench coach there and he left to manage the Astros in 2010. That didn’t end well for Mills, who was fired in 2012. Then he re-joined his buddy Tito and is currently the bench coach for the Indians. There’s been talk about Mills getting a manager gig again, and Boston might be the type of job to get him to leave Francona again. (Oz)
LONGSHOTS, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW:
David Ross: You’d have to pull Ross away from many television gigs, but the former catcher is certainly smart enough to step into a managerial role. He’s beloved in every city he played, which includes Boston. His personality would certainly inject life into the clubhouse and connect with the fans. But we’re not sure he’s interested, and it’s more likely Dombrowski wouldn’t be at this stage. (Townsend)
Torey Lovullo: Lovullo was plucked from the Red Sox to help turn around the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his first season he helped lead Arizona back to the postseason and could win Manager of the Year in the NL as result. A quick return to Boston would be interesting, but we’re guessing he’s happy in the desert. (Townsend)
Joe Girardi: If the Red Sox wanted to shock the world, this would certainly do it. Girardi’s not under contract for next season and there’s some speculation he wants to take some time away regardless of the Yankees plans. Still, if the Red Sox came calling, that would have to pique his interest. Honestly, it’s not a road the Red Sox would likely be all that motivated to travel, but it’s a fun thought anyway. (Townsend)
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