Terry Francona is gone. Most fans don't like it, players either, but what's done is done. Now, Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox have to embark upon the process of finding a replacement for him, and it's not such an easy task.
We're still really early on in the process (in fact, the Red Sox haven't really started yet), but there are plenty of names to consider and toss into the rumor mill. Here's a look at some of the potential replacements for Terry Francona.
Joe Torre (Managerial Record: 2,326-1,997; World Series Titles: 4; Pennants: 6): My personal favorite for the job, Torre would be an excellent addition to the Red Sox clubhouse. Torre has been there, done that, and has won. Really, you couldn't ask for much more. We know that Torre can manage under pressure - he managed in the toughest sports market of all with the New York Yankees and had to put up with Manny Ramirez at the helm of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Did I mention the four World Series titles and six pennants? I did? Well, they're important enough to mention again. Torre absolutely can get the job done, and well. However, he is 71 years old and has a cushy job as an MLB executive. It's very likely that he won't want to give that up. But if he does, he's worth the hire.
Tony LaRussa (Managerial Record: 2,728-2,365; World Series Titles: 2; Pennants: 5) If Joe Torre is choice No. 1, then Tony LaRussa would have to be 1A. LaRussa has been around slightly longer than Torre and has had some great seasons. Like Torre, he's experienced the joys of victory, winning two World Series titles and five pennants. LaRussa would be a figure that players would respect in the clubhouse, and could be that "new voice" that Tito was talking about. However, being at the helm of the St. Louis Cardinals - a team that's actually in the postseason - it's possible that he wouldn't want to take the job in Boston. Plus, he hasn't exactly managed in a high-stress market (he's only ever managed in St. Louis, Oakland and Chicago with the White Sox). Still, he's a very good option.
Bobby Valentine (Managerial Record: 1,117-1,072; World Series Titles: 0; Pennants: 1) Valentine's name has been tossed around as a good choice to succeed Francona, and as an old-school guy could provide a helpful change in the Red Sox clubhouse. He doesn't have the same experience that Torre or LaRussa does, but he has plenty of experience in the dugout. Valentine, now an ESPN baseball analyst, has managed the Texas Rangers and the New York Mets, and he's won 82 or more games in nine seasons, with his high being 97 in 1999. The problem here is that he doesn't have the championship pedigree that Torre, LaRussa or even Francona have, winning only one pennant with the Mets in 2000 before losing to the in-town rival Yankees. Not the top choice, not a last resort.
Trey Hillman (Managerial Record: 152-207; World Series Titles: 0; Pennants: 0) An interesting candidate brought up by the Boston media, Hillman (currently a bench coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers) is a relatively young manager (age 48) with only three years of experience. What's worse is that he's only managed the Kansas City Royals, and he had a losing record there. But it's hard not to have a losing record in Kansas City. Small market, little finances, lack of talent. In his three seasons in Kansas City, the most games Hillman ever won in one year was 75 in 2008. That's not exactly going to get the job done in the AL East. Hillman would be risky hire, but could pan out.
DeMarlo Hale (Managerial Record: 0-0; World Series Titles: -; Pennants: -) Here's where things get interesting. One day ago, Hale, the current bench coach of the Red Sox, wasn't even being mentioned as a potential manager anywhere (but to be fair, one day ago, Tito was still the manager of the Red Sox). However, Francona had some very nice compliments for Hale during his exit interview on Friday, saying that he has a great baseball mind and is a good manager in waiting. Is it possible that Hale paid Tito to say such nice things as he walked out the door? Because up until now, I'd never even heard of Hale as a possible manager anywhere. Even riskier than Hillman.
Ron Johnson (Managerial Record: 0-0; World Series Titles: 0; Pennants: 0) Johnson, the current first base coach for the Red Sox, is less likely to receive serious consideration for the job, but has been in the Red Sox system since 2000, when he was hired as the manager of Class-A Sarasota. He was promoted to Double-A Trenton in 2002 and became the manager of Double-A Portland in 2003 when the team switched affiliations (Trenton is now with the Yankees organization). In 2005, Johnson was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he served until his promotion to Red Sox base coach in 2009. He's not a top choice, that's for sure, but his familiarity with the team is well noted.
Tim Bogar (Managerial Record: 0-0; Lots Of Blown Calls At Third): C'mon, I'm only kidding. You really think Tim Bogar can manage? He can barely tell runners when to keep running to the plate, and when he does, it doesn't end up well. But seriously, some say that Bogar has a keen baseball mind. Third base just isn't a good fit for him.
Wild Card: Joe Maddon (Managerial Record: 0-0; World Series Titles: -; Pennants: -) This wouldn't be a move for the 2012 season, and it would require the Red Sox to plug in a gap-filler like Hale or Johnson for a year to bridge the year. However, can you image Maddon in Boston? He's had an extremely successful tenure with the Tampa Bay Rays, leading them to the World Series in 2008 and taking them to the playoffs this year (I won't go into an further detail than that for obvious reasons). Maddon is a friendly character who would bring some much-needed personality to the clubhouse in Boston. But, like Carl Crawford, it's possible he'll acquire the "deer in the headlights" syndrome and crack under pressure. I'm all for it if the Sox can plug someone in for a year. Could be a great match.
Prediction: The jury is out regarding whether or not the Red Sox will look to hire from within or go outside entirely. Some say that types like Hale and Johnson were too close to Francona to be considered, and Torre and LaRussa might be too old school for Theo Epstein and the Sox brass. My guess is that they shock us all and bring in a little known name with rising stock, but if I had to choose from this list, I'd say they hire Valentine, if he's willing.