Another offseason, another search for a new manager. The Bobby Valentine era with the Boston Red Sox was a disaster, and there's no other way of putting it. The show must go on, though, and the Red Sox brass must lick their wounds, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find the best man for the job.
Of course, that task is easier said than done.
Managing the Red Sox is a delicate situation. For starters, it is a high pressure job. There is little room for mistake, and if you don't look and sound like you know what you're talking about, fans and the media will rip you to shreds.
Isn't that right, Bobby?
The next manager of the Sox needs to be able to handle the pressure that comes with Boston. More importantly, they must live and breath baseball. Hiring an outsider isn't an option. To succeed at this gig, you need experience in a big market and should preferably have some success at the highest level.
So who's the best man for the job?
Some will tell you it's John Farrell, the former Sox pitching coach turned manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Most believe that he is the top candidate for the job, even though he is still currently employed by the Blue Jays. In order to land Farrell, the Sox are likely going to need to give away some prospects in a player-for-manager style trade.
Does Farrell meet the qualifications? At a glance, yes. He has the experience -- he played baseball professionally for eight seasons and has even coached in Boston already. Supposedly, he had the respect of the oft-criticized Red Sox' pitching staff when he was here, a big key for incoming managers. He even has one year of managing under his belt. Translation, he's the perfect candidate, right?
Not so fast. Not only did Farrell fail to lead the Blue Jays to a winning record this season, his second as a manager, but he seemed to lose control of his own players. Some even went as far as to criticize the atmosphere of the clubhouse, and there have been multiple reports that Farrell and the Blue Jays' front office have hit some turbulence.
If any of those reports are true, it should raise a red flag. Do you really want someone who had that kind of impact on a team, in only one year mind you, taking over arguably the toughest job in baseball right now?
Perhaps Farrell still would command respect in the Boston clubhouse. Unfortunately, there is no way to know if this is true unless the team hires him. Who knows? All the issues in Toronto may mean nothing. Or they might be the tip of the iceberg.
You have to think that Red Sox management is considering this, and they do have other candidates for the job. Tim Wallach, the third base coach for the Dodgers, and Brad Ausmus, former major league catcher and special assistant to the GM of the San Diego Padres, are also in consideration.
Of the two, Wallach would appear to be the better choice. In his only season as a manager with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate, he guided the team to a franchise best 80 wins and was name Pacific Coast Manager of the Year. Not bad for one year on the job.
Wallach's success at the minor league level is encouraging, but (pardon the pun) it's a whole different ballgame at the next level. In Triple-A, you're managing players who are (hopefully) keeping their egos in check because they want a shot at the majors. In the majors, you are managing a bunch of spoiled and entitled brats (not all of them, but there are plenty like that).
Suffice it to say, managing people and egos is just as important as your baseball know how. It might even be more important. That's what made Terry Francona such a great manager in Boston. He was able to have guys like Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez coexisting in the same room!
Can Farrell, Wallach or Ausmus manage egos? We're not really sure yet, and we won't know until they are fully immersed into a managerial job. Farrell is off to a rocky start, but to be fair, no manager could have saved the Blue Jays this season with the injuries and divisional competition that they had.
Whoever the Red Sox decide to hire as their next skipper, he must meet the most important qualities. He needs to handle pressure well, he must know his stuff, and he must be able to manage personalities. Should the Sox neglect these important qualities and hire someone without them, we'll be back at square one next offseason.