We all have heard that option number one for the now-vacant managerial position is John Farrell. I've been over why I don't like the idea of Farrell before, but today there's a new name being bandied about courtesy of Nick Cafardo (who, of course, was all aboard the Bobby Valentine train early during last offseason's manager search): Jason Varitek.
I have some reservations.
Recently brought back to the team as a sort of jack-of-all-trades special adviser, Jason Varitek represents a pretty significant risk given his complete lack of managerial experience. He's a genius when it comes to catching, but as to the rest of the game, who can say? Does he know when to pull a pitcher, call for a pinch hitter, or put on a hit-and-run? Us Sox fans would like to think so given the high regard we generally hold him in, but we can't really be sure of that.
Really, though, the in-game stuff isn't so big of an issue. Ideally I'd want the Sox to get someone who is going to make sure every last at bat is strategically perfect, but even someone who is below average in-game can't have that significant of an effect. Equally concerning is the idea that Varitek has never been in a situation where he has to talk to players from a different position. Jason Varitek, veteran of more than 10 years, can carry a lot of weight when he tries to be a clubhouse presence. Some of that would carry over into a managerial role, but when yo're deciding who does and does not play, commanding that level of authority, there's inevitably going to be a different dynamic in play whether he wants it to be that way or not. That's the sort of thing managerial experience can help with.
Basically, Jason Varitek is a risk, and with a payoff probably not terribly high. To me, it's hard to understand how someone analytical like Ben Cherington would come to the conclusion that he would be a good risk to take compared to any number of safer options with experience.
Unless, of course, you bring in factors outside of just baseball, at which point it becomes easy to figure out not only why they'd be interested in Varitek, but also John Farrell. And it's a thought which is pretty troubling. Simply put, they're making a PR decision, not a baseball decision. Kind of like that Bobby V decision seemed to be.
No, I'm not saying that Varitek would be Bobby V, just that hiring him would make me think that the Sox have failed to learn their lesson when it comes to personnel moves. And if they haven't learned that with their manager, maybe they haven't learned it when it comes to team building, however much they might profess otherwise.
This isn't something to worry about until the move is made, and even once it is, it's possible that the Sox just see the managerial position as being unimportant enough that safety can be sacrificed there in the name of PR--after all, it's going to be hard for anyone to match the total disaster that was Bobby V. Still, it's not the way I'd hope the team would do business, and if either Farrell or Varitek is picked up, it's going to make the next few months that much more nerve-wracking. At least until someone else picks up the likes of Greinke and Hamilton.