For the second year in a row, the Boston Red Sox are searching for a new manager, and the list of candidates to replace the fired Bobby Valentine is starting to take shape, as the team slowly reveals the people who will get an interview. So far, the names that are not yet on the list are as intriguing as those that are.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has said that he wants to spend much less time on this year's search than he did during the last offseason, when the team did not replace Terry Francona until December. For Red Sox fans like me, the new choice would ideally be made before the general managers' meetings in early November.
Things have been strangely silent regarding the man perceived to be the top choice for the job, current Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell. The former Red Sox pitching coach has a year to go on his contract with the Jays, and says he has not heard that the Red Sox have asked Toronto for permission to speak with him about the vacancy. Presumably, the Blue Jays would seek compensation in return for letting Farrell out of his contract, especially to take over a division rival.
The first candidate to be interviewed will be Los Angeles Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, who will meet with Cherington on October 12. Wallach, who was a five-time All Star at third base as a player, was formerly the Dodgers' hitting coach. He also was named Manager of the Year in the Pacific Coast League in 2009, when he handled the Dodgers' top affiliate in Albuquerque.
"It's a great opportunity with one of the best organizations in baseball," Wallach said in confirming the interview.
The Red Sox will also interview Brad Ausmus, who spent 18 seasons in the big leagues as a catcher, mostly with the Houston Astros. Ausmus has roots in New England - he grew up in Connecticut, attended Dartmouth and owns a home on Cape Cod - but has no ties to the Red Sox organization. He also has no experience as either a coach or a manager in major or minor league baseball, although he managed Team Israel when it attempted to qualify for the World Baseball Classic. He is currently a special assistant for the San Diego Padres.
"That's one job that would get me off my couch early," he said about the Red Sox when asked if he had an interest in managing.
Neither of the first two confirmed interview candidates has major league managing experience, unlike Farrell or the ill-fated Valentine. Does that signal a change of direction for the Red Sox front office?
"We're at a different point in the team's evolution compared to last year," Cherington has said. "At the time last year when we made the decision to hire Bobby, we were fully expecting to contend in 2012. We had a sort of mature roster that we felt like if some things went our way, and we got some breaks, we had a chance to win. So I think in the end experience weighed in our decision. It'll still be a factor, but the team's at a different point. We'll see, I don't think there's a particular resume blueprint. We've got to get into it and talk to people and just find the right person for this job and move forward."
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Rick Blaine, an award-winning broadcaster and columnist, is a lifelong Red Sox fan. Follow him on Twitter @RickBlaineCT.