scorecardresearch Skip to main content
NICK CAFARDO | SUNDAY BASEBALL NOTES

Jason Varitek and the new prerequisites for a big league managerial job

Jason Varitek, who recently bought a home in the Boston area, is spending more time with the major league club as a catching instructor, and less time in the Red Sox farm system.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/File 2017

Get Globe sports news alerts right in your inbox

Jason Varitek interviewed for the Mariners managerial job two years ago, a sign that he was finally ready to pursue the position after a few years of spending time with his family following his playing career.

Varitek remains a viable managerial candidate, if not in Boston then elsewhere. He has neither coached in the majors nor managed in the minors, but such experience is not a prerequisite for a big league managerial job nowadays. The Red Sox last October hired Houston bench coach Alex Cora, who spent just one season at that job after a six-year career at ESPN.

Advertisement



"We'll see what happens," said Varitek about his potential future as a manager. "I'm enjoying what I'm doing. Alex has been great."

Varitek, who recently bought a home in the Boston area, is spending more time with the major league club as a catching instructor, and less time in the Red Sox farm system.

The biggest quality that executives seem to be looking for in a manager now is their communication skills, both with players and the media. It's no secret why Cora and the Yankees' Aaron Boone got hired. Yes, they were longtime players, but they also had the communication acumen that Dave Dombrowski and Brian Cashman felt was necessary in Boston and New York, respectively. Same with Mickey Callaway in New York with the Mets. Same with Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia.

Another former player with good communication skills who is getting attention as a future manager is MLB Network's Mark DeRosa. He was considered managerial timber before he was hired by the network, and nothing has dissuaded anyone from considering him a top candidate again. One place to watch would be Atlanta, where Brian Snitker was retained by new GM Alex Anthopoulos but is certainly not his guy. DeRosa, who began his career with the Braves, played in Toronto when Anthopoulos was the GM there, so there's a connection, and connections are important.

Advertisement



"Mark definitely could be a manager," said Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who coached DeRosa in Toronto. "He's got all the qualities you look for nowadays."

Another name often mentioned as a future manager is David Ross. He's currently an ESPN analyst and a special adviser for the Cubs.

"I look at every opportunity when they are presented with an open mind," Ross said. "I would consider it an honor to manage one day."

Mike Lowell, another ex-player and MLB Network analyst, could also emerge as a manager.

Lowell helped Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers with his defense in spring training, at Cora's urging. Like Cora, Lowell is bilingual, a plus among managers.

When I asked Lowell in February about his managerial aspirations, he said he wants to be with his children through their formative years. But if a team made Lowell an offer, would he refuse?

The Yankees wanted vice president of player personnel Tim Naehring to have interest in the managing job last winter, but Naehring didn't want any part of it, feeling he lacked the necessary experience. Naehring is a rising star in the executive ranks and nobody would be surprised if he eventually moved into a GM job.

Carlos Beltran has gotten sparkling comments about possibly being an effective manager.David J. Phillip/AP/Associated Press

Carlos Beltran was considered for the Yankees job, fresh off retiring as a player. Beltran has received nothing but glowing comments when we've asked people in baseball about his ability to be an effective manager. We've seen how Cora has effectively communicated with Latino players, and Beltran took on a fatherly role to younger players in his final seasons.

Advertisement



Yankees TV analyst David Cone is also someone who aspires to become a manager, and he inquired about the job that went to Boone. If you listen to his commentary on telecasts, he's very bright on all aspects of the game.

One of Cone's broadcast partners, John Flaherty, was always one of those players whom you pegged as a future manager. He fit the profile as a backup catcher who saw the game so uniquely and understood pitching.

There's also Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, a Cincinnati native who is a Reds special assistant. The Reds recently fired Bryan Price and promoted bench coach Jim Riggleman on an interim basis. Larkin could emerge as the long-term manager.

Other managerial possibilities include Torii Hunter, who is widely desired; Mark Kotsay, a quality control coach in Oakland and former Red Sox outfielder; and Rocco Baldelli, who has been a first base coach and major league field coordinator for the Rays.

NEXT CAREER MOVE?

Granderson just wants to help

Curtis Granderson is an active player who is thought of as a future manager. But when asked about his desire to manage, he said, "No. That's one job I definitely don't want."

Granderson, who hit a walkoff home run for the Blue Jays in a 4-3 win over the Red Sox last Tuesday, said there are a lot of things he wants to do after retiring. Given his fast start this season, the 37-year-old outfielder might be a couple of years away from ending his career.

Advertisement



"He's one of those guys who could do many different things," Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. "He could be a manager, a front office person, a broadcaster, a coach, you name it. He's got a wonderful personality and way about him where he'll be successful in whatever he does."

Curtis Granderson is in his 15th season with his fifth team.Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Dombrowski employed Granderson with the Tigers from 2004-09. He traded him to the Yankees in December 2009 as part of a three-team deal with the Diamondbacks (who got Edwin Jackson from Detroit). Dombrowski wound up with Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, and Daniel Schlereth.

"My body feels good so I feel I can keep playing, but one of the other 30 teams has to sign you for that to happen," Granderson said. "There are a lot of things I'd love to do after I'm through playing. My old college coach (Mike Dee, University of Illinois-Chicago) said he wanted me to join him and coach under him. I might do that. Not sure. But there are all sorts of things I want to do. People suggest things to me all the time. But I have a foundation that I'd like to devote more time to and some educational programs in Chicago I'd like to get involved with."

Advertisement



Granderson said he's always asked for his opinion or help on player matters, and that college kids ask for his advice.

Granderson said he'd love to be able to help young players with issues.

"It's wide open and I want to leave it wide open," Granderson said. "I still love to play. My goal is to win a World Series before it's over. That's the immediate goal."

Granderson has earned $109 million in his career, according to Baseball-Reference, so he doesn't have to do much of anything after retiring. But that wouldn't be in Granderson's nature.

"I want to make a difference and help people," he said.

Apropos of nothing

1. Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro was pleased that $81 million in funding for renovations of Dunedin Stadium was finally approved by the city. The Jays have had the worst spring training facility for years, but the renovation will include a remodeled stadium with capacity of 8,500 and new practice facilities at the minor league complex. It was also interesting to learn that when Shapiro ran the Indians, he couldn't get any Florida municipality to commit to a new home for the Tribe. That's when Shapiro moved the Indians' spring home to Arizona.

2. A sign of the times: Entering the weekend, there had been nearly 400 more strikeouts (6,392) in the majors than hits (6,003).

Mookie Betts is slashing .329/.420/.706 through 22 games.Michael Dwyer/AP

3. Mike Trout and Mookie Betts are both eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. Whom would you go after?

4. Does David Ross have any advice for Johnny Damon, who will appear on this season of "Dancing with the Stars?" "I've already talked to him," Ross said. "It's hard to talk about it because it's something you have to experience on your own. I just told him to have fun with it. It's a lot of work and it's tough on your body. So make sure you're in good shape going into it."

5. Joe Mauer has to do a lot more for me to consider him a Hall of Famer. I get the .308 career average, the 2,006 hits, the .390 OBP, and the .834 OPS. The three batting titles and the one MVP award were accomplished when he was a catcher. His 137 homers and 881 RBIs don't add up for me. I'm open-minded on his candidacy, but I need to see how much longer he plays and what he adds to his career totals.

6. Nine-inning games have averaged four minutes shorter this year than last season — 3:01 down from 3:05. Will this get millennials to watch?

7. The Double A New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto) have third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hitting .353 with 22 RBIs and a .937 OPS, shortstop Bo Bichette hitting .303 with 15 runs and an .811 OPS, and second baseman Cavan Biggio hitting .321, with 4 homers, 14 RBIs, and a 1.146 OPS. All sons of former major leaguers.

8. Shame on baseball: Wayne Krivsky and Larry Beinfest, two excellent former baseball executives, remain out of baseball.

Updates on nine

Andrew Miller has a 0.00 ERA and 17Ks in 11 appearances (10 innings).Jason Miller/Getty Images

1. Andrew Miller, LHP, Indians — Miller, 32, has a hamstring issue that shouldn't derail him for long. Miller, a free agent after this season, will be in demand again after signing his four-year, $36 million deal in December 2014 with the Yankees, who flipped him to Cleveland at the 2016 trade deadline. Miller, Craig Kimbrel, and Greg Holland will all be on the market.

2. Nick Pivetta, RHP, Phillies — It's only after Ruben Amaro Jr. was fired as Phillies GM that we can appreciate his work. Amaro, who went on to become the Red Sox first base coach and is now the Mets first base coach, acquired Pivetta from the Nationals for disgruntled closer Jonathan Papelbon and cash at the 2015 trade deadline. Pivetta has a 2.57 ERA in five starts this season (1-0 with four no-decisions) with 28 strikeouts and only four walks in 28 innings. Amaro could well be on the path to becoming a manager, but don't be surprised if teams begin to view him as a GM again.

3. Jonny Venters, LHP, Rays — His story is remarkable. He's endured three Tommy John surgeries and a fourth elbow procedure. He was recalled to the big leagues last week after not pitching in the majors since Oct. 5, 2012. Red Sox executive Frank Wren, who had Venters and Kimbrel as GM in Atlanta, hadn't seen a better left-right combo out of a bullpen in all of his days in baseball.

4. J.T. Realmuto, C, Marlins — Realmuto hit .385 with four homers in his first seven games since coming off the disabled list. The Marlins may still be somewhat torn on whether to build around him or deal him for a package of prospects.

5. Chris Tillman, RHP, Orioles — Tillman has been bad, but on Friday night he may have saved his Orioles career by throwing seven one-hit innings in a 6-0 win over the Tigers. Entering Friday, he hadn't won since May 7 of last season, 27 appearances and 22 starts. Tillman was 0-11 with an 8.85 ERA and 28 homers allowed in those 22 starts. The longest winless stretch in franchise history belongs to Bill Bailey — 24 starts for the St. Louis Browns from 1910-12.

Rusney Castillo will earn $11.77 million this season.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

6. Rusney Castillo, OF, Red Sox — Is it fair that Castillo can't sniff the major leagues? Castillo, who plays all three outfield positions, has speed and has hit well the past two seasons and should be on a major league roster, but he's trapped because of his contract. He'll earn $11.77 million this season, and because the Red Sox don't want to exceed the next threshold on their luxury tax with a $232 million payroll (the highest in baseball), they can't even think about adding Castillo.

7. Jung Ho Kang, INF, Pirates — After being denied reentry into the United States for more than a year following his third DUI arrest in South Korea, Kang is rejoining the Pirates. The 31-year-old will have to go through MLB's substance abuse treatment program while working out at the Pirates' extended spring training camp in Bradenton, Fla. The Pirates say he'll remain on the restricted list as he gets into shape.

8. Kendall Graveman, RHP, Athletics — Graveman was Oakland's Opening Day starter but his season has been a disaster — 0-5 with an 8.89 ERA. The A's tried everything to fix him, but they sent him back to Triple A Nashville last week. It's the second time in Graveman's career that a poor start to a season resulted in a demotion. The last time it happened, in 2015, he came back strong.

9. Clay Buchholz, RHP, Royals — In his first two minor league starts, Buchholz allowed one run in 11 innings with eight strikeouts. Buchholz isn't far off from joining the Royals. He's recovered nicely from his arm problems, which kept him out of most of last season.

Extra innings

From the Bill Chuck files — "In case you were wondering, since 1925, Rickey Henderson is the career leader with 39 homers leading off a game. George Springer and Mookie Betts are now each up to 11." . . . Also, "In the first 23 games of 2017, the Red Sox were 12-11 with 14 homers. In the first 23 games of 2018, the Red Sox were 18-5 with 28 homers." . . . Happy birthday, Kelly Shoppach (38), Wes Gardner (57), Steve Crawford (60), Rick Burleson (67), Tom House (71), and Luis Aparacio (84).

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Material from interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.