BOSTON -- As the Red Sox start the search to replace Alex Cora as manager, it’s a strange feeling for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to be engaging in this exercise with a month to go before Spring Training.
“There’s no question it’s an unusual time to be doing an managerial search, being at the point of the winter we are, and being this close to Spring Training, it’s impossible for that to not be a factor in how we proceed,” said Bloom. “But it’s not going to be the only factor, and we want to make sure we do this justice.”
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The last time the Red Sox searched for a manager at such an odd time was in March 2002. Just days after John Henry took over as principal owner, the Red Sox dismissed Joe Kerrigan as manager. With a couple of weeks to go before the regular season started, Grady Little was hired.
In this case, Bloom hopes to have his next manager in place before Spring Training starts.
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Here are answers to some questions you likely have regarding the search:
Will Bloom hire an interim manager to buy himself more time to find the right fit?
It’s at least a possibility. However, it seems more likely the Sox will look for a permanent replacement.
“We haven't ruled anything in or out,” said Bloom. “I think that part of this process is going to be assessing the best course. ... But we haven't gotten far enough in our discussions to know definitively.”
Is bench coach Ron Roenicke a candidate -- either on an interim or permanent basis?
Bloom didn’t want to discuss specific candidates, but his respect for Roenicke -- who formerly managed the Milwaukee Brewers -- is clear.
“I’m newer to building a relationship with him than a lot of the folks I work with, but I know we hold him, as a group, in a very high regard,” Bloom said. "Interactions with him have been wonderful, and again, we’re going to want to consider a number of factors, but he is someone we hold in very high regard."
How about Jason Varitek, who has been touted as a future manager since his playing career?
Don’t rule it out.
“I’ve been very impressed talking to him,” said Bloom. “The bond he has with the fans of this organization, that speaks for itself, and I know our staff thinks just as highly of him. You don’t often find people who have as distinguished a playing career as him that also has the ability to connect across a wide spectrum of people, and he certainly demonstrates that.”
Is Bloom in charge of selecting the next manager?
The answer is yes.
“Yeah, for sure, but I am not going to be the sole representative of baseball ops making that decision,” said Bloom. “I think this is something where there’s a lot of stakeholders, and just like with everything we do, there’s going to be a lot of people who are going to influence this, and it’s going to be done collaboratively.”
Don’t look for a repeat of 2012, when then-general manager Ben Cherington wanted to hire Dale Sveum, but president/CEO Larry Lucchino successfully pushed for Bobby Valentine.
“First of all, I would say that Chaim is going to lead that process and will bring our next manager on board,” said Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy. “John, Tom [Werner] and I will be available and be there to support him in that search process in any way. I think Chaim did a great job of laying out characteristics and qualities of what we look for and we’ll go from there.”
Will the Red Sox be unable to hire Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro due to any agreements -- formal or informal -- that Boston and Tampa Bay might have made when Bloom was hired by Boston?
Keep an eye on this one.
“That is not something I want to address,” said Bloom, talking about the potential Rays employees joining him in Boston in general, but not Quatraro specifically. “I think sometimes those restrictions do happen in the industry. Sometimes they are hard restrictions. Sometimes they are guidelines. Again, I think every situation is different. I don’t think it’s fair of me to comment on it.”
What quality in a manager is most crucial to Bloom?
“I think it’s really important, in order to have success in that chair, for somebody to be authentic, to be themselves,” Bloom said. “I think that’s a challenge when you’re following anybody who’s had success, is you want to make sure you’re aware of things that made them successful, but you need to be you. You can’t try to copy someone else. That’s not going to work. There’s many different ways that managers can be successful. We have to make sure that our next manager is authentic and is going to do what makes that person most successful.”
If Bloom had his druthers, would he want an internal or external candidate?
“I think it’s too early to say. That’s something we need to determine as we get into this,” Bloom said. “Obviously the main thing that we’re going to make sure is that the next manager is the right manager for us, rather than start from whether it should be internal or external. I’ll just say that at this stage as we start the process, there’s nothing we’ve ruled out and we’re going to have a discussion about how to weigh those different factors.”
In a market like Boston, does the manager need to be someone who handles the media well? That was certainly true of Cora, and Terry Francona.
“I think it’s a factor. I don’t want to place it on a list as far as where it ranks. It’s obviously important,” Bloom said. “One of the many very critical responsibilities of the manager, I think obviously managing the group and the players in many different aspects is the overarching goal, but the manager is a leader of our organization, the face of our organization and that is an important aspect of this job.”
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.