The Boston Red Sox seem intent on stealing their new manager from their division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays. But perhaps manager John Farrell isn't the best choice for the Boston job. Maybe someone on his staff, first base coach Torey Lovullo, should be Boston's main target.
Last year at this time, the Red Sox asked for permission to interview Farrell for the vacant Boston managing position. The Blue Jays changed company policy in a move designed to keep Farrell in the Toronto dugout rather than making a lateral move to Boston. But the Red Sox received permission to speak with Lovullo, and interviewed him for the role that was disastrously filled by Bobby Valentine.
"Torey Lovullo is a leader," Farrell himself said at the time. "His ability and willingness to listen, teach and communicate enable him to connect with many different types of people in order to build relationships. He has a strong passion for the game itself and for the way in which it should be played."
Lovullo has connections in Boston. He worked with some of the front office staff when he was with the Cleveland Indians. In 2010, Lovullo was the manager of the Red Sox Triple A minor league affiliate in Pawtucket, RI, where he earned a reputation for his ability to deal with young players.
"It's something I want to do. I aspire to be a manager," Lovullo said during a late-season series in Boston, when speculation about Valentine's fate was already rampant. "I feel like the past couple of years of working here with the Blue Jays and this front office, and working with these coaches and John as a manager, have taught me a lot, showed me a lot of little things that I want to pay attention to if I ever get the opportunity to interview again, and if I ever get to take the next step and become a field manager."
While the Red Sox currently seem to be focused almost exclusively on Farrell as their first choice, there could be difficulty in reaching an agreement on compensation with the Jays, since their manager is still under contract for another season. Lovullo's contract, on the other hand, is up. He is free to pursue managing or coaching jobs elsewhere.
The 2013 version of the Red Sox will feature a number of young players, as the organization begins to rebuild after a horrendous season in which they unloaded veteran players owed nearly a quarter billion dollars in salary. A manager who connects with young players is critical.
If the price for Farrell gets too high, the Red Sox ought to take a close look at the man who might be the next best thing. Or, perhaps, an even better choice from the start.
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Rick Blaine, an award-winning broadcaster and columnist, is a lifelong Red Sox fan. Follow him on Twitter @RickBlaineCT.