No doubt Ben Cherington has given a lot of thought the past few months to who will replace Bobby Valentine. He must have a short list. Before we get to who might be on his short list let’s look at the reasons someone should be on his list. My criteria for selecting the best possible manager from a generic point of view starts with experience. Anyone who has never had the whole weight of decision making on their shoulders makes rookie mistakes early in their tenure. The only question is how big and how often. It’s the difference between being a captain versus the top trusted lieutenant. It’s easier to make clear headed assessments that are your suggestions when your name isn’t attached to the final results. All the great leaders of men on the field of play made glaring mistakes before they were great. Bill Belichick is good example of this. His first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns ended in utter failure. However, he obviously, learned from his mistakes and that is more important than making them in the first place. Robin Ventura stands out as a possible exception. He no doubt made mistakes this year his first year as a manager of the White Sox but they didn’t really come back to haunt him. However, exceptions don’t negate the core logic that makes a rule a rule. If there is someone available who has managed a team to a championship, he should be on Cherington’s short list.
The next trait to look for is based on baseball 101. When I was a youngster I heard time and time again that 80% of baseball is pitching. So if at all possible get a manager who personally is strong with pitchers and pitching decisions or get a manager like La Russa that has a great pitching coach like Dave Duncan attached at the hip. The Red Sox really have no choice to get this aspect of the hire right.
The first two traits are as obvious as they are essential. However, the next trait is the one that really separates the men from the boys. You want your new manager to lead your team to a championship so hire someone who has experienced a world championship. First you want someone who has already managed a team to the top, secondly you want someone who has played on a championship team then you look for someone who has coached on a championship team. This is the most valuable type of training for someone to lead a team to the promised land. It is not the only way to identify someone who can lead a team to a championship but having someone with this experience takes a lot of risk out of the selection.
There is only one potential candidate that has managed a team to a World Series triumph and that is Ozzie Guillen. There is a very good chance Ozzie will be fired by the Marlins. John Farrell was the pitching coach for the Red Sox in 2007 when they won the World Series. DeMarlo Hale was the third base coach for that same Red Sox team. Jose Oquendo was third base coach for the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011 when they won the World Series. Joey Cora was the third base coach for Ozzie Guillen’s the 2005 White Sox.
There are gems out there who can lead a team to a winning the World Series without every being on a team that won it. Terry Francona is a prime example of this. With the next group look for someone who brings something unique and special. The next group all have impressive credentials excluding a World Series championship. Ryne Sandberg HOF second basemen who this year won Minor League Manager of the Year. Sandy Alomar Jr. six time All-Star catcher, was interim manager this year for the Indians. Mike Maddox pitching coach for the Rangers. The Rangers have historically been a good hitting poor pitching team. Mike’s pitching staff has for the only time in Rangers history been to the World Series in 2010 and 2011. Jose Oquendo has been the third base coach of the Cardinals on two championship teams.
It appears to be a real long shot that Blue Jays let Farrell go the Red Sox without some unnecessary pain to the Red Sox as part of the package. Mike Maddox apparently doesn’t want to uproot his family from Texas. I would have included these two on the list if not for these situations. The latest rumor is that the Marlins might keep Ozzie but its about a 50/50 proposition. With all that here is my short list for the Red Sox manager’s job: Ozzie Guillen, Ryne Sandberg, and Sandy Alomar Jr. If the Marlins keep Ozzie then put Jose Oquendo on the list.