Red Sox's search failing to deliver

BY Ken Rosenthal • November 16, 2011

It was bad enough that the Red Sox ran off Terry Francona as manager and made Theo Epstein miserable enough to want to leave as general manager.

Now they’re apparently not listening to Epstein’s replacement, which leaves them still looking for Francona’s replacement.


Because their presumed front-runner – Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum – seems poised to join Epstein and the Cubs.

Maybe the Sox should just ask for a do-over and the chance to bring back Epstein and Francona. But it’s a little late to put the fried chicken back in the bucket, isn’t it?

Sveum was the only one of the Sox’s five managerial candidates whom new GM Ben Cherington summoned for a second interview.

That interview — a sitdown with Cherington and the Sox’s three top owners — took place Wednesday at the general managers/owners meetings in Milwaukee.

The owners must not have liked what they heard, or at least not liked it enough; they declined to make Sveum an offer.

Epstein, the Cubs’ president, and Jed Hoyer, the team’s GM, also met with Sveum a second time Wednesday, and acted far more aggressively.

They made Sveum an offer, knowing they had competition from their old team. And unless the Red Sox respond with their own offer – and there is no indication that they will - this baby is over.

Oh, but there’s more.

Who do you think helped form the Red Sox’s list of candidates? None other than Epstein, who continued working for the Sox before he began working for the Cubs.

Epstein then took his list to Chicago, interviewing several of the same candidates, including Sveum — and failing to agree on compensation with the Red Sox for his own departure.

Maybe that sly fox Epstein will include a Cubs jersey autographed by Sveum in addition to whichever B-grade prospects he ends up sending back to Boston.

Who will the Red Sox end up hiring?

Who knows?

They likely will expand the search after eliminating only one of their four other candidates — Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin.

Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont remain under consideration.

But the Sox blew their chance to interview another potential candidate, Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, by dragging the process out this long.

Wallach, according to, has a clause in his contract that allows teams to interview him only during a brief window at the end of the season.

Is this beautiful, or what?

It would not be surprising if the Sox’s owners balked at Sveum, who isn’t exactly an electric personality and twice was passed over by the Brewers to be their permanent manager. Frankly, the team might be better off with Lovullo, who is more polished and considered a rising star.

In fairness to the Sox, executives throughout baseball keep saying that the pool of managerial candidates is thin. Still, the Boston job should be one of the most coveted in the game, a magnet for the best and the brightest.

Maybe the job is less coveted following the smear campaign on Francona, but c’mon. The Sox could hire virtually anyone they wanted. Yet, try finding the next Earl Weaver on their list, much less the next Francona.

See, this is what happens when an organization suffers a nervous breakdown. The Sox just had to find a scapegoat for their historic September collapse. They picked Francona, declining to exercise his options — and setting in motion a series of unfortunate events.

Francona, who lost out on the Cardinals’ job to Mike Matheny, told CSNNewEngland on Wednesday that he would not manage next season “for my benefit,” saying he needed to “take a step back and re-energize.”

But the truth is, Francona would have stayed with the Red Sox if Epstein and ownership had remained supportive of him, told him that he was still the man they wanted.

They told him no such thing, and now the Sox are getting what they deserve.

Terry Francona never looked so good.

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