Dombrowski must aim high in search for a new manager


BOSTON — As the Red Sox enter their managerial search, the braintrust needs to step back and remember something they may be oddly forgetting.

They have an opening to manage the Boston Red Sox. 

This franchise has no trouble underscoring its national relevance, its sacred position in the sport, in any of its marketing devices. Have you heard Fenway Park is historic?

People want this job. People with other jobs right now want this job. They must. And even if they somehow don’t, it’s on the Red Sox to find out either way.


Brad Ausmus, Alex Cora or Ron Gardenhire could be excellent managers. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski must aim as high as possible. Dombo must conduct his due diligence on sitting managers who are currently under contract and may be interested to take the reins. 

“Well, current managers are employed by other organizations, so you generally don't talk to them,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “I wouldn't get into specifics on that, but generally you don't interview other peoples' managers, generally.”

Generally, folks. This isn’t a general opening, in a general town with a general franchise. It's the opposite.

The Giants' Bruce Bochy’s got a losing team and all the credentials in the world. The Marlins' Don Mattingly can’t be excited about a rebuild, and he’s got big-market experience. The Astros' A.J. Hinch has been an excellent communicator with a progressive front office and played for Dave Dombrowski in Detroit. Kevin Cash is no stranger to Boston or a young roster. Maybe Mike Matheny is ready to move on from the mid-market life.

Bob Melvin just signed an extension with Oakland, so that might be tough. They'd all be tough.

But you can sell this thing. You have to try, if you’re the Red Sox. It sells itself. Best sports town in the country, right

The Sox have a win-now roster with immediate championship potential and the presumed wherewithal to spend some money this winter (even though Dombrowski didn’t detail those plans Wednesday). For the right communicator, the right tactician — and let’s face it, the right politician — there may be no greater challenge, no greater test of skill than to come to Boston and help a clubhouse in need of guidance get over the hump.

Dombrowski is the sure-thing president, the known-commodity GM. He loves star power. Why would his managerial search be any different? Why would Dombrowski limit himself to managers who are only free agents — those who have been recently let go, or who have never had the job before — in this search? The Sox are in a competitive window, and Dombrowski’s on a five-year deal.

Respect in the clubhouse for a new manager would be instantly raised if the Sox pried away a big name. Fan excitement, fan buy-in could improve too. Instant acceptance on talk radio never hurt.

“I think managerial [experience] helps,” Dombrowski said. “I don't think it's of 100 percent necessity. But I think being in a dugout during a game, seeing what the manager encounters is probably helpful, yeah, I do think it is. I do think it would be difficult for a person more so here than in some other places to walk directly onto the field without some on-field managerial experience at some level or big-league coaching.”

There’s experience, and then there’s experience.

John Farrell should actually be a blueprint, in one way. The Sox had to trade with the Blue Jays to get him.

Do it again. Figure out, maybe with back-channel inquiries if need be, who would seriously want to come to Boston. Be prepared to pay the manager what they need to take on the circus of Boston. The money will be a drop in the bucket compared to the player salaries anyway.

Then, approach the team where the manager is currently employed. The club probably won’t want to stand in the way of a manager who genuinely wants to leave for a rare opportunity. If they do, well, you tried. But be prepared to make an offer that gets your man.

Dombrowski didn’t get creative with the roster and the luxury tax threshold in 2017. He can get creative now. Think outside the box. And do what he does best: go big.


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