The Red Sox fired manager John Farrell on Wednesday in a move that was both somewhat expected and mysterious at the same time. There were rumblings that Farrell’s job could be in jeopardy, but GM Dave Dombrowski said at a news conference that it was “not a snap decision” based on Boston losing in the ALDS to Houston while declining to elaborate on why the manager was let go.
Dombrowski also said that “managerial experience helps” when he was asked about who might be considered as Farrell’s replacement.
Whenever someone in a high-level sports position is fired, there is inevitable and immediate speculation about who could be hired as a replacement. That is particularly true and intense with the job of managing the Red Sox.
There are already a lot of candidate lists out there, and one consistent name near the top of them is former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
The Boston Globe’s speculation started with former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus being the leader in the clubhouse, but Gardenhire was the second name mentioned. Of Gardy, the Globe writes:
An old-school manager with great interpersonal skills. He can relate to young players and has a stern side to him. He battled through prostate cancer this season, but returned to help the team’s decision-making group under manager Torey Lovullo. A longtime Twins manager, Gardenhire was very successful there until a rebuild began in Minnesota and he was out.
Those are certainly pluses, and Gardenhire most definitely meets the criteria of having managerial experience given he was with the Twins for 13 seasons before being fired at the end of 2014. His dismal postseason record in Minnesota — 6-21, including losses in his final 12 games — would be the main cause for skepticism in a place like Boston, where the goal is championship and not playoff participation.
CBS Sports offered a similar rationale to the Globe, writing of Gardenhire in their list:
Currently the bench coach of the Diamondbacks, Gardenhire has lots of success on his managerial resume, including six AL Central championships with the Twins in 13 years. His name was immediately bandied about Wednesday morning among national reporters on Twitter when the Red Sox job came open. Consider him among the favorites.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale added some context, writing about the Red Sox potentially coveting an experienced manager:
That could lead them to Ron Gardenhire, bench coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who was the right-hand man of manager Torey Lovullo, who’s expected to win the NL manager of the year award. Dombrowski saw Gardenhire’s expertise first-hand while GM of the Detroit Tigers when Gardenhire led the Minnesota Twins to six division titles, winning at least 90 games in five seasons. The players loved him. His peers respected him. And he’s been itching to get back in the manager’s chair.
Whether this is anything more than the media echo chamber repeating and aggregating in an infinite loop remains to be seen, but it seems at least reasonable to think Gardenhire, who turns 60 later this month, is a serious candidate to wind up in Boston.