Dale Sveum, Pete Mackanin, Gene Lamont, Torey Lovullo, and Sandy Alomar Jr.
One of those five men will be the next manager of the Boston Red Sox. Mackanin, Sveum, and Alomar Jr. have already interviewed for the position, and Lovullo and Lamont will follow on Friday and Saturday, respectively. After that, it will be up to Ben Cherington and co. to choose from these candidates, as no more will be added to the list.
So how do the candidates stack up? Who will be chosen? Let's take a look.
With all of ~15 games of managerial experience under his belt, Sveum is ahead of only Sandy Alomar Jr. in that aspect, but to his credit has already faced the tall task of trying to lead a playoff team. His trial-by-fire did not go terribly well, but it's hard to blame him for losing to the eventual World Series champions, especially when his starting pitching let him down early and often.
One of the bigger issues for Sveum is that he's already at a bit of a disadvantage entering into Boston. Sox fans already view him in a negative light thanks to his poor decision-making as the team's third-base coach in the past, so it will be an uphill battle.
While it's not fair to directly transpose Sveum's third-base difficulties onto any potential managerial career, he's actively declared himself to be both aggressive--not necessarily a good thing when the natural talent of the team should be able to shine through with a relatively light hand from the skipper--as well as having made decisions in order to get one player or another an RBI. "Throw him a bone," says Sveum, but that's not how I want the Sox making in-game decisions, and it's probably not the sort of thing a seemingly entitled Sox clubhouse needs right now.
The man who made a big splash more with his outfit (complete with pocket square) than with anything else, Pete Mackanin has done just about everything that baseball can offer. A scout, a manager (for many years in the minors, and twice as an interim manager with Philly and Pittsburgh), a bench coach, a base coach...you name it, and Mackanin has experience in it. To say that he's earned an opportunity somewhere is an understatement. The question is whether or not he's right for the Sox.
Really, though, all signs point to yes for Mackanin. Despite being one of the older candidates, Mackanin is very much in touch with the new statistical ways of thinking that the Red Sox have embraced since Theo Epstein first took control. If there's one thing Terry Francona often seemed to lack, it was a firm basis in statistics, occasionally ignoring actual results in favor of traditional baseball theory (say, batting a significantly worse left-handed hitter against a righty pitcher). Of course, there's no way to know whether or not Mackanin really knows how to apply the statistics without being privy to his interview answers.
If he can, however, it could give the Sox something they've been missing out on while Joe Maddon silently managed the Rays to big win totals thanks in part to his willingness to use the data available for him. There's a reason his defenders always seem to be positioned perfectly.
Mackanin also seems to have the right idea about how to run the clubhouse, with a willingness to be both the disciplinarian and the players' manager depending on what the situation calls for. Hopefully that means less culture shock, but a firm enough hand to establish some order where it is clearly needed.
All-together, Mackanin seems to offer the best of all possible worlds, but with a significant caveat. If he's not able to pull off this delecate balance, it could end in disaster. He's not the safe choice, but arguably he's the exciting one.
Sandy Alomar Jr.
I've already touched on Sandy Alomar Jr. before, and the story hasn't changed. Without any major experience, Alomar Jr. just doesn't stand out in the competition. Beyond that, his desire to take a "family" approach to the team makes one wonder whether or not he's prepared to deal with a team that sports a $160+ million payroll and the egos that come with that.
Really the man with the greatest connection to the Sox as constituted, Torey Lovullo's year with the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2010 is a small leg-up on the rest of the competition. That he departed so soon for Toronto when John Farrell lured him away to coach first base for the Jays has clearly not soured the team's opinion of him at all.
While he hasn't been a skipper in the Majors, Lovullo has filled the role in the minors for many years, including Manager of the Year campaigns with the Kinston Indians and Akron Aeros in 2004 and 2005.
Lovullo is probably the biggest mystery of the bunch for those of us outside the process. While we won't know much more until he actually talks to the press following his interview, he's received good marks from current Sox who played underneath him, so that's something.
The man with by far the most Major League managing experience of the bunch, Gene Lamont seems like the safe choice of the bunch--one that Ben Cherington might be inclined to make as a newly-invested GM. The 1993 American League Manager of the Year, Lamont has gotten strong results out of teams that haven't always been expected to make the biggest impact in the past.
That being said, Lamont almost seems to have the deck stacked against him. Cherington and co. brought him in mostly as a way to gauge whether or not they were missing something by ranking Major League managing experience so low on their list of priorities. Of course, it's possible that Lamont completely changes their mind by showing what his experience brings to the table, but as is his greatest asset in the competition is one that the decision makers are not inclined to value very much.
There's also the fact that, as one of the older candidates and one who has recently been spending time under the likes of Jim Leyland, Lamont could be too old-fashioned for the young and progressive Red Sox front office.