SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Throughout the town hall event that kicked off the sixth annual Red Sox Winter Weekend on Friday night, there was one roar that echoed above all the others.
The decision will be in the hands of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, with help from general manager Brian O’Halloran, the rest of baseball operations and the support of ownership.
But if fans had a choice, it’s clear it would be Jason Varitek, the two-time World Series champion and catcher of the Red Sox from 1997-2011. Fans also endorsed Varitek at the Boston Baseball Writers' Dinner on Thursday night.
Still in the infant stages of the search for a new manager, Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy said Friday that he expects the search will start with internal candidates.
While no candidates have been identified, it is certainly expected the Sox will consider Varitek, who has been an adviser for Boston since 2012.
“It’s fair to say you’re naturally inclined to look inside your organization,” Kennedy said. “That’s been a Red Sox practice with executives and players, homegrown talent; it’s just natural to know your people better than external people. So, I know there’s been a lot of discussion about internal candidates. That’s fair to say, it’s a good place to start.”
Bench coach Ron Roenicke and third-base coach Carlos Febles are other internal candidates who will likely get consideration.
Roenicke is the one person in that group who has Major League managerial experience, serving as Brewers skipper from 2011-15.
Febles has managed 904 games in Boston’s Minor League system and is popular in the clubhouse.
Varitek’s respect throughout the organization and the city of Boston is universal from his playing days, and has carried over the past few years as he gained experience in different areas in his advisory role.
The Red Sox are aware they need to find a dynamic candidate to replace Cora.
“It’s got to be someone who fits the culture of this team with knowledge of what it would take to put a championship team on the field in 2020,” Kennedy said. “There’s a lot of good candidates out there. I know it’s an awkward time of year to be doing a managerial search. I know it’s a tall task for Chaim and [O’Halloran], and they are working hard.”
Making it all the more competitive is that the Astros and Mets are also looking for new managers -- all three openings occurring due to the sign-stealing scandal in Houston.
“The market changes when you throw two more teams into the mix,” Kennedy said. “It creates a larger sense of urgency to get conversations going, not to mention the fact that we leave here for Spring Training in a couple weeks.”
Safe to say the Sox will have their manager by the time Spring Training opens on Feb. 12?
“We’d like to, ideally,” Kennedy said. “Chaim said last night he doesn’t want to set an arbitrary, artificial deadline that might not be achievable. We’d rather get it right.”
O’Halloran outlined the process further when asked about it by a young fan at the town hall.
“We’re going to have a thorough process,” O’Halloran said. “We’ll consider internal candidates, external candidates. We’ve started by identifying traits and characteristics of the manager that we would like that person to have.”
At that point, another fan howled, “like Varitek!”
“We take all kinds of recommendations and if you have any ... I’ve heard a couple already,” O’Halloran quipped.
“I think if we were being totally honest, we’d like to get this done right now,” Bloom said. “We want to go as quickly as possible, as long as we’re doing it right. Obviously Spring Training is coming. We’re all very aware of that. But it’s important we do this right.”