The Red Sox should have a manager by the end of the World Series, which will give the hire enough time to have input on offseason moves and select his own coaches.
Over the past few days fans have asked me to rank the candidates by their chance to land the job. It’s hard to tell, but my best guess is:
1. John Farrell -- General manager Ben Cherington worked well with Farrell when the current Blue Jays manager was the pitching coach in Boston. The other big factor is Farrell’s familiarity with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey. He also really likes Felix Doubront. Of course, most of the work with the pitching staff is left to the pitching coach, so Farrell’s overall impact on the pitching staff might not be as significant as one would think. Farrell has a presence about him. There are concerns about his record in Toronto, and the Toronto media has pointed out some strategic issues. But after it became obvious that Cherington and Valentine were on different planets, communication between manager and GM is now vital and this seems to be the best combination.
2. Brad Ausmus -- There’s a growing feeling among baseball people that if the Red Sox and Jays can’t reach compensation on Farrell, Ausmus could emerge as the leading candidate. Ausmus interviewed Wednesday, and while he would not get into specifics about how things went, it would be tough to imagine it didn’t go well. Ausmus is a well-spoken, passionate baseball man who understands the Red Sox Nation culture having grown up in Cheshire, Conn., and graduated from Dartmouth. Since he’s been retired he’s spent more time at his Cape Cod home and would love to be the Red Sox manager. Ausmus is like a top prospect who you know will be a successful major leaguer. There’s also a trend in baseball -- thanks to Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura -- that ex-players who are smart and students of the game can skip the minor league managing thing and go right to managing in the bigs.
3. Tim Wallach -- He’s another coach who is universally expected to have a successful managing career in the major leagues. He was described as “a lot like Terry Francona but without the humor.” He’s a former hitting coach and a former Gold Glove third baseman, so he knows defense as well as offense. He’s handled some of the Dodgers’ top prospects, including the ones recently obtained by the Red Sox. He’s received high marks from Dodgers CEO Stan Kasten, who feels Wallach is ready for this chapter.
4. Tony Pena -- All of the people hung up on his record with Kansas City don’t believe Pena was a good manager. But like any manager, he’s as good as the talent on his roster. Pena had young Royals teams playing hard and he was the 2003 AL Manager of the Year when he led the Royals to their only winning record (83-79) since 1994.
5. DeMarlo Hale -- Great attributes. Don’t know if his ties with Francona will hurt him in the process, but there’s no question he would do an outstanding job and work well with the Sox brass if selected.