Who might Sox choose as new skipper?

September 28th, 2020

BOSTON -- Unlike in January, when the Red Sox had an abrupt parting of ways with Alex Cora and the club had to scramble to find a new manager by the start of Spring Training, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom will have plenty of time to go on a more traditional search this time around after Sunday’s decision not to bring Ron Roenicke back.

“Nothing specific,” Bloom said when asked about his timetable. “Obviously, I don’t think we want to take longer than is necessary to get the best outcome, but we haven’t put a specific timetable on it.”

The front office, led by Bloom, will start formulating a list of candidates in the coming days. Here are some names that could very well end up on their list.

Elephant-in-the-room candidate

Cora: This is a candidate the Red Sox can’t even really discuss right now because his suspension runs through the end of the World Series. However, the general public -- as in Red Sox Nation -- has been clamoring for the return of Cora since MLB made the announcement that his suspension was only for the 2020 season and that he had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the '18 Red Sox sign-stealing investigation.

In many ways, Cora makes a lot of sense. At a time when the Red Sox need a strong and energetic voice to be the face of their franchise, Cora is exactly that. He is also well-liked in the clubhouse and played a big role in the maturation and improvement of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Eduardo Rodriguez. Cora endeared himself in his first go-around for his receptiveness to analytics and his open-ended communication with the front office. Ownership is also very fond of Cora, who was viewed as a rising star in the managerial ranks in his two seasons in Boston, which included a World Series championship.

So why isn’t it a slam dunk that the Red Sox will bring him back? Obviously his involvement in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal created enough discomfort within the Red Sox that they opted to let him go in January -- though it was described as a “mutual parting of ways.” Also, Bloom didn’t hire Cora in the first place and might be more intrigued by other candidates. Time will tell.

External candidates

Sam Fuld: Fuld, the Phillies' director of integrative baseball performance, checks off a lot of boxes for Bloom. He is young (38), analytically-inclined, energetic and relates well to players. Fuld also played for the Rays from 2011-13 and got to know Bloom well at that time. And it can’t hurt that he is a New Englander who was born in Durham, N.H., and played high school ball for Phillips Exeter Academy.

James Rowson: This is a name you’re going to hear more about in the coming weeks and years. After leading the Twins as their hitting coach to historical power numbers in 2019, Rowson was hired by the Marlins as bench coach to go along with the unofficial title of offensive coordinator. The 44-year-old Rowson, who has an analytical foundation, oversees and puts together hitting plans and strategies used throughout Miami's organization. It seems to be a matter of when and not if he will get a chance to manage in the Majors.

Mark Kotsay: The quality-control coach for the A’s, Kotsay made a strong impression on the coaching staff and front office during his brief playing stint for the Red Sox in 2008-09. Of more recent importance, he was said to be thoroughly impressive while interviewing for the Sox, Giants, Astros and Pirates posts last winter. Kotsay has a hard-nosed personality and also embraces analytics. He would have an easy time communicating with the players.

Matt Quatraro: Here is another candidate with whom Bloom has a strong relationship. Quatraro is the bench coach for the Rays, one of the most forward-thinking organizations in the game. He was the finalist for the Pirates job and also interviewed with the Giants. Quatraro is known for having strong communication skills with players, and he has the smarts to handle the analytics-driven approach Tampa Bay deploys.

George Lombard: Here is a challenge: Find anyone in baseball who has anything negative to say about Lombard. Good luck -- it won’t happen. Lombard probably leads the baseball world in positive energy. The Dodgers' first-base coach spent enough time in the Red Sox's farm system (six years as a coach or manager) to earn many fans -- Mookie Betts foremost among them.

Andy Green: In 2004, the Red Sox hired a manager named Terry Francona, who had four losing seasons with the Phillies. Now you have Green, who went 274-366 in four years managing the Padres. As Francona proved, sometimes you just have to be in the right situation. Former Boston catcher David Ross would certainly give Green a glowing recommendation, as Green is his bench coach with the Cubs. Green is also Chicago’s infield coach and led infield positioning strategies. He organized Spring Training and Summer Camp and is described as high energy by everyone who knows him. By the way, Green is 44 years old -- the same age Francona was when the Red Sox hired him.

Internal candidates

Jason Varitek: Boston’s former catcher, captain and two-time World Series champion has been billed as a future manager since his playing days. Perhaps that time has finally come. Varitek has worked in the Red Sox organization since 2012 and is well-versed in all areas of the game. His current title with Boston is special assistant/catching coach. He was a near constant presence with the team in '20, and his input on a variety of baseball issues is valued by many people in the organization. Varitek is an expert on game plans for a pitching staff. This would be a popular choice with the fanbase.

Carlos Febles: Febles served as Boston’s third-base coach and infield instructor the past three years, but he has been in the organization for 14. Febles paid his dues in the Minor Leagues, where he managed 904 games. His easygoing personality would make him a popular choice with the players. Febles knows the mindset of a Major League player, having spent a six-year career with the Royals.

Billy McMillon: A rising name in the Minors, McMillon was supposed to spend 2020 in his second year as manager for Triple-A Pawtucket. When the Minor League season got canceled, he ran the alternate training site at Pawtucket instead. McMillon previously managed affiliates at Class-A and Double-A for the Red Sox. He has strong knowledge of the outfield and baserunning from his six-year career in the Majors.