6 Future Candidates for Red Sox Manager

Before the club won six of their last seven games, many talking heads were wondering if John Farrell would remain as Red Sox manager for much longer. This conversation led to speculation about who could replace him. Should the Red Sox decide to move on from him at any point, here are five potential candidates. Not including Torey Lovullo, who recently took a job with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

6. Gary DiSarcina

The former California Angels shortstop has made a few separate stints in the Red Sox Red Sox Managerorganization. He managed the Lowell Spinners from 2007-09 and the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2013. Baseball America named DiSarcina Minor League Manager of the Year in 2013 for leading the PawSox to the Governor’s Cup. After a brief time with the Angels’ staff, DiSarcina returned to Boston this season.

  1. Matt Williams

Williams won the National League Manager of the Year in 2014 while with the Washington Nationals. However, he was fired in 2015 after his team failed to return to the postseason. It was rumored that his lack of leadership that season also led to clubhouse dysfunction – especially between Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon. Additionally, he was named in the George J. Mitchell Report for alleged steroid usage as a player. But his candidacy would draw some interest.

  1. Dale Svuem

Ben Cherington wanted to hire Svuem in 2012, but instead, he took the job with the Chicago Cubs and Theo Epstein. With Chicago, he had a 128-197 record in two seasons. Currently, he is the hitting coach for the Kansas City Royals. The Red Sox would probably want someone with a pitching background though.

  1. Brian Butterfield

The native Mainer is well-beloved in Red Sox Nation given his father-like personality. Butterfield is also well-respected in the clubhouse due to his history with the team and current role as third base coach. However, he has only ever been in the managerial conversation once, with the Blue Jays in 2010. If the Red Sox were to hire him, I believe it would only be on a short-term basis.

  1. Jason Varitek

The former big league catcher and team captain was always a strong leader. He has served as a special assistant to both Cherington and Dave Dombrowski since retirement. His storied MLB career, leadership skills, and Red Sox connection make Varitek an automatic favorite in any discussion.

  1. Jim Leyland

Leyland is the most successful of any name on this list. With just under 3,500 games managed, he clearly has the most experience too. The American team won a championship at the World Baseball Classic under his leadership. Leyland’s won World Series titles and American League pennants with the Marlins and Tigers respectively. However, due to his age, he may want to soon retire from managing permanently.

Rodriguez’s Final Fenway Game Uneventful

Alex Rodriguez played his final Fenway game last Thursday night. Amid boos that drowned out a few cheers, A-Rod grounded out to third, marking the end of a contentious career at Fenway Park. Unlike Derek Jeter, there were no pre-game ceremonies, no recognitions, or even an acknowledgment for that matter. All fans saw that night was A-Rod go 0-4 with an RBI.

No one seemed surprised that Rodriguez’s final game was uneventful. For many, it wasFinal Fenway Game just another game. Rodriguez wasn’t revered by Yankee fans like Derek Jeter was, or even respected for that matter. Red Sox fans will always remember him as being the antagonist who took a catcher’s mitt to his face when he back-talked to Jason Varitek. Everyone remembers that game on July 24th, 2004 when Bronson Arroyo drilled A-Rod with a pitch, infuriating the Yankees’ DH. So as A-Rod exchanged heated words with Arroyo, Varitek told him to go to first.

Well, maybe not in those exact words. I can’t write what he said exactly since it’s explicit, but the scene became more tense. Varitek and A-Rod exchanged punches, and a determined Yankee Don Zimmer charged at Pedro Martinez before Martinez threw him to the ground. The iconic photo of A-Rod fighting Varitek hangs in almost every bar in Boston. For many, it is a symbol of Red Sox Pride. To his credit, Varitek refuses to sign photos of the brawl, saying that he didn’t set a good example for younger fans.

A-Rod’s Final Fenway Game Leaves Little To Remember

Alex Rodriguez’s final Fenway game was more of a whimper than a bang. In his final at-bat in the eighth inning, Rodriguez grounded out to third base and thrown out at first. No one stood up and clapped. No acknowledgment on the scoreboard about his final game. Nothing. Well, I take that back. Despite a Red Sox loss that night, the loudest cheers came when A-Rod struck out earlier in the game. The cheers were as loud as if it had been a David Ortiz grand slam. So while A-Rod’s final at-bat wasn’t anything to marvel at, Red Sox fans at the game, me included, can boast that we saw his final at bat on the road.

Will Rodriguez Retirement Dampen Rivalry?

Well, the day has finally come. Alex Rodriguez, who for years has been the bane of the Red Sox Nation’s existence, is retiring. An Alex Rodriguez retirement means that Red Sox fans will no longer have a primary Yankee player to focus their taunts at. As the last link to steroid use, A-Rod will no longer remind baseball fans of a dark time in our National Pastime’s history. However, it also means that the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees won’t be as intense either.

Despite A-Rod’s flaws, its hard to deny his talent. Since his debut in 1994, Rodriguez has hit close to 700 homeRodriguez Retirement runs, is a member of the 3,000 hit club, and has collected over 2000 RBIs. Only a small handful of players have ever accumulated those numbers. In fact, if my research is accurate, Hank Aaron is the only other player that has stronger numbers. While Hank Aaron never used steroids, it’s hard to say that all of A-Rod’s success came from PEDs. After all, a batter still has to connect his bat to the ball in order hit a home run. Many fans don’t realize how difficult that is. Steroid use can’t give a player that edge.

So did Rodriguez use PEDs? There’s no doubt about it. But did he take his punishment and sit out the 2014 season? Yes, he did. While that might have satisfied Commissioner Bud Selig, it came nowhere close to satisfying the Red Sox Nation.

Any member of the Red Sox Nation will tell you that the most famous moment in A-Rod’s time at Fenway Park took place in 2004. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez fought it out at home plate in the third inning of a July game that resulted in  one of the biggest bench-clearing brawls between the two teams since 1967. As a result, Rodriguez and Varitek received suspensions and large fines. It’s remembered as one of the more significant brawls at Fenway Park between the two teams. It’s also the brawl that made everyone in Red Sox Nation hate A-Rod. After this season,however, he’ll no longer be around for Sox fans to beat up on.

With a Rodriguez Retirement, Who Will Sox Fans Hate On Now?

This week’s series between the Red Sox and Yankees will be the last one that will include A-Rod. Never again will Red Sox Nation be able to chant, “A-Rod sucks!” Well maybe we will. After all, we love to chant “Free Tom Brady!” at most games and he’s not even a baseball player. With a Rodriguez retirement also comes the reality that the source of an intensified hatred towards the Yankees will no longer be taunted at Fenway Park. Does that mean the rivalry between the two teams will die down? Maybe a little. But it’s a 100 year old rivalry, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Will the Red Sox Nation miss A-Rod? Yes, but not for positive sentimental reasons. We’ll always think poorly of the guy, but we’ll also miss having someone to kick around when the Yankees are in town.

Pedro Martinez Gets his Number Retired

You can say what you want about the Red Sox struggles on the field, but the one thing they can do is throw a ceremony. Whether it’s raising a championship banner, or honoring an ex-player as they did Tuesday night with Pedro Martinez, they do a very good job of throwing a celebration.

Last night it was Pedro Martinez’s turn to get honored after being formally inducted into the Pedro MartinezHall of Fame on Sunday. Before the game Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox, the now-Hall of Fame pitcher had his number retired by the Red Sox. Pedro joins Ted Williams, Johny Pesky, Carlton Fisk, Joe Cronin, Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, and Carl Yastrzemski as the only Red Sox players with their numbers retired. Illustrious company, to say the least, when it comes to Red Sox history. He also joins Jackie Robinson up there, who’s number 42 is retired throughout baseball.

As for the ceremony itself, which I was lucky enough to attend, it started with a countdown of career stats on the center field screen. This included, but not limited to, his career win-loss record, strikeouts, and much more. It also involved visits and presentations from ex-teammates Orlando Cabrera, Trot Nixon, Curt Schilling, Ralph Avila—who first discovered Pedro Martinez and his brother Ramon, and former Expos manager Felipe Alou who managed the team that Pedro first rose to prominence on. The best one, though, at least in my mind, was when Pedro called out Jason Varitek ahead of schedule. Varitek was supposed to come out to catch the first pitch, but Pedro called him ahead of schedule in very Pedro-esque fashion, stating that it was his party.

After his number was unveiled below the right field roof deck, the ceremony ended with a video highlight tribute, again shown on the center field screen, set to the song “Hall of Fame” by The Script, which was a great way to cap off another remarkably well put together ceremony by the Red Sox. It sure gave me chills, and it also succeeded in making me forget the struggles of the Red Sox at the present moment.

At least, that is, until the actual game started. The Red Sox ended up losing to the White Sox behind a 9-run outburst and a great outing by White Sox pitcher Jeff Samarzdjia. A late rally in the 9th would fall well short, but the Red Sox never really stood a chance, not with the way the team has been playing this year.

Oh, well. At least the ceremony for Pedro Martinez was worth the price of admission, even if the actual game wasn’t.

With New Red Sox Veteran Core, Prospects May Excel

red sox veteran

During the public autopsy on the disastrous 2014 Red Sox, plenty of theories were offered as to why the team just totally fell apart. Persistent injuries, under-performing coaches and World Series hangovers were all cited, but one important factor was often overlooked: Boston’s lack of a star veteran core.

Previous Red Sox teams always had a nucleus of superstars on which to rely for Red Sox Veteranleadership. In 2004, it was Schilling and Martinez. In 2007, Ortiz and Ramirez took center stage. In 2013, how about Pedroia and Lester? Traditionally, these Red Sox veteran players provided a cornerstone around which the front office could build; a bedrock in which fans could believe; and a framework to which rookies could adhere. In essence, they were the heartbeat of the Boston Red Sox.

However, once Lester was traded and Pedroia got hurt last year, The Olde Towne Team found itself short of bona fide stars for the first time in living memory. Yes, Big Papi was still around, launching homer after homer, but even the most ardent sentimentalist must admit he is no longer among the elite. Thus, the Sox found themselves in a bind.

The lack of star power not only hurt the team commercially, but also in philosophical and leadership sense. After years of consistently developing homegrown Major League stars, the system spluttered somewhat in 2014, with Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks and Anthony Ranaudo all struggling to adjust to the big leagues. This, I believe, can be largely attributed to the lack of a robust veteran core in Boston for the first time since the 1990s.

Previously, raw rookies could venture to the Majors and blend into the background somewhat, growing acclimated while the established Red Sox veterans—stars—soaked up attention and carried the burden of production. For instance, when Pedroia was promoted, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were there to inform and advise, promote and protect. Similarly, Jacoby Ellsbury felt less pressure due to the presence of Jason Varitek, JD Drew and Kevin Youkilis. In both cases, the young guys weren’t expected to be immediate superstars, because the Sox already had that covered.

However, last year, who could Bogaerts learn from? Who could Bradley Jr. look to for advice and guidance? Aside from an increasingly surly Papi and an increasingly injured Pedroia, there was nobody to teach the neophytes, nobody to deflect the overbearing scrutiny, and nobody to lead a rudderless ship.

Thus, in 2014, the Sox had a galaxy of homegrown stars but, unlike years gone by, there was no sun about which it could orbit. Accordingly, the planet fizzled and died a horrid, 91-loss death.

Therefore, it was pleasing to see the Sox address their dire need for star power this winter, acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to effectively re-grow the Red Sox veteran core and erect a new frame of reference for the team’s philosophy. Now, with genuine superstars attracting much of the attention and doing a majority of the heavy lifting, perhaps Bogaerts, Betts and Swihart will be afforded a little more breathing room. Liberated from the instant need to provide leadership and create drama, perhaps they’ll finally flourish as prospects, becoming stars in their own time and fashion, just like Ellsbury and Pedroia before them.

Jason Varitek Managing Padres A Stepping Stone?

jason varitekRecently, there has been some talk of the San Diego Padres not exercising current manager Bud Black’s 2015 option so that they can get a new skipper. Among the possible replacements for Black is former Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.

Black, 57, has managed the Padres for seven years and has compiled a record of 615-677, good for a .476 winning percentage. Never once has he led his team to the postseason.
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Right now, the Padres are sitting at a 75-82 record, meaning there is no chance they break .500 this season. This means the chances of San Diego looking elsewhere for a skipper are good.

Varitek, 42, has no coaching experience, but served as the captain of the Boston Red Sox from 2005-2011. In 15 years for Boston, Varitek served as the team’s starting catcher from 1999 to 2009. He hit .256/.341/.435 while clubbing 193 home runs, setting a Red Sox team record by catching in 1488 games. He is currently semi-retired, but works as a special assistant to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.

One big advantage ‘Tek has over his competitors is connections. Padres CEO Mike Dee, worked for the Red Sox as a chief operating officer from 2002-2009.
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Ever since Varitek was on the decline late in his career, it appeared as though he would be a big league manager someday — mostly because Boston kept him around.

He has the leadership skills and the baseball IQ to lead a team. This is the same guy who caught four no-hitters and was the starting catcher on two World Series teams.

There is no debate as to whether or not Jason Varitek would be an effective manager. His leadership skills are unprecedented and so is his knowledge of the game.
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Perhaps managing the Padres could be a stepping stone to the job of his dreams — managing the Boston Red Sox. It seems like a match made in Heaven for the two parties to reunite at some point. Right now it seems like “if” is not the matter of the question, but it is “when” it will occur.