Something getting in the way here?
Yesterday it was Gene Lamont, a 64-year-old man who has been in professional baseball for 47 years. On Friday it was Torey Lovullo, a veteran of nine seasons managing in the minors. Last Wednesday, it was Sandy Alomar Jr., a nice former player with no managerial experience.
Before that, it was 60-year-old bench coach Pete Mackanin with his nifty handkerchief, great hair, and iPad. We’ve also seen Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, the man who made us all forget Wendell “Send ’Em In’’ Kim.
No-Names On Parade. This is the theme of the Red Sox managerial search in November 2011.
Why are the Sox going low-profile in the search for their next skipper?
And why did Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux say no to an interview, citing family reasons (Maddux’s family lives in Dallas-Fort Worth), then go to Chicago to interview with the Cubs?
Maybe the Globe’s Nick Cafardo gave us the answer last Sunday when he wrote about the Red Sox’ insistence on an “organizational approach’’ for their next manager.
Nick explained that the Sox reject the old-school notion of “one voice,’’ and prefer managers “who take a lot of input from the front office.’’
“That’s simplifying it,’’ said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, the man in charge of the search. “There’s a lot of in-between. Most managers who are perceived as autonomous have been doing it a long time. They’ve had a ton of success. Typically, they are either unavailable or retired. They are not always as available as guys who may be at a different point in their career.
“When you hire someone who is less experienced or has less tenure, you work with and help and support them in different areas.’’
We know the Sox emphasized the “organizational approach’’ in the eight years that Terry Francona managed the team. Francona had a computer on his desk, and Theo Epstein’s minions were in and out of his office all the time.
But only in the days after Francona was fired did we get a grasp of the extent of the interference from above. If you saw Philip Seymour Hoffman’s depiction of an emasculated Art Howe in “Moneyball,’’ you know what I’m talking about.
This is why you won’t hear about them trying to bring Tony La Russa out of retirement. This is why Bobby Valentine and Joe Torre are out of the question. There will never be another Dick Williams type in the Sox dugout. The Sox want a “player’s manager.’’ Some would also say they want a guy who’ll take lineups from Bill James, Tom Trippett, and Carmine the computer.
Cherington disputes the latter notion.
“I’ve never seen that happen here,’’ said the new GM. “We’ve had plenty of conversations about lineups and at times made suggestions, but Tito always made out the lineup, and I don’t remember one exception to that. I don’t ever remember a time when we mandated a lineup to Tito.’’
Good. That’ll help knock down the image that the Yankees are run by Hal Steinbrenner while the Red Sox are run by Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey.’’
“How many managers who have been around for a while would like that?’’ asks Joe Morgan, who managed the Sox to division titles in 1988 and 1990.
Maybe that’s why you’ve never heard of most of the Sox candidates. In addition to the men listed above, the Sox are also reportedly considering Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, Dodgers coach Tim Wallach, and Marlins coach Joey Cora.
What do all of these candidates have in common?
All are nice guys, “good baseball men,’’ relatively anonymous, and certainly in no position to make demands as they interview for the job. They are all baseball lifers who’d be forever beholden for this opportunity. They’d go along with the plan. They’d be good organization men. They’d study their spreadsheets from Lawrence, Kan., and never complain.
“The numbers won’t tell you what a guy is made of,’’ said Morgan. “That’s probably the biggest thing. Just because a player got a hit in one situation doesn’t mean he will do the same thing if things are more stressful. That’s something a manager would know better.’’
Amen. If the collapse and fallout from 2011 proved anything, it’s that the Sox need a strong voice and presence in the manager’s office. They need someone who will occasionally scare the hell out of the Popeyes-and-beer brigade. They need strength, presence, pedigree. They need somebody with chops.
They need Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Ozzie Guillen, and Joe Maddon. They need Earl Weaver, Billy Martin, and Casey Stengel.
They need the Marlboro Man, not Casper Milquetoast.
“I’m not sure I accept the dichotomy,’’ said Sox CEO Larry Lucchino (“the man who runs the Red Sox,’’ according to John Henry). “I think we are wide open in our approach. There are various types of managerial roles and philosophies. I will wait until the end of the process to declare which one we like more.’’
Something tells me that John McGraw is not walking through that door. It’ll probably be more like Sandy, Torey, or Dale - flanked by the minions from baseball ops.
The Maddux rejection really makes you wonder. Managing the Red Sox should be an attractive opportunity. There are tons of payroll and star power. You have a full house every night. Your work truly matters to millions of people.
So why the parade of no-names? And why did Maddux reject the Sox without even bothering to talk?
Maybe there’s too much interference in Boston. Maybe being an “organizational’’ manager is not such a good gig after all.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.