The Red Sox, as we all know, are searching for a new manager to replace the recently fired John Farrell. We have already outlined a number of potential candidates for the team, and now two have emerged as legitimate possibilities for Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox. First, we learned that Boston brass would be travelling to New York on Sunday to interview current Astros bench coach Alex Cora. He is one of the top targets for every team with a managerial vacancy this offseason. He is not the only one the Red Sox are hoping to interview, though. According to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Dombrowski has requested permission from the Diamondbacks to interview their current bench coach Ron Gardenhire.
Gardenhire is a much different kind of candidate than Cora. While the latter is a young coach who hasn’t managed at the major-league level, Gardenhire is a major-league veteran and about to turn 60. While he spent the past year as a bench coach in Arizona, he has plenty of experience managing at the highest level. He spent a whopping 13 years as the head of Minnesota’s dugout.
For many, myself included, Gardenhire isn’t really the ideal candidate for the Red Sox. For one thing, Dombrowski has said connecting to the youth on this Boston roster is a key for any new manager, and Gardenhire doesn’t really seem like someone who would be able to do that. Of course, I don’t know the man personally, so I could be way off base on that. Additionally, he’s not really a new-age kind of manager. One would suspect that he’d be guilty of similar decisions to the ones that made people angry at Farrell.
All of that being said, the man has undeniably had success at the major-league level. He has a career record of 1068-1039 over his career, and that was made much worse by some rebuilding years at the end of his tenure in Minnesota. Gardenhire led the Twins to winning seasons in eight of his first nine seasons with the club, including six division titles, and had a .543 winning percentage in that time. Whether we agree with his methods or not, Gardenhire has gotten wins, and that’s the most important thing.
Still, despite the success, his candidacy is kind of confusing. It’s not that he’s an unqualified candidate — clearly that’s untrue. It’s just that he doesn’t seem like he’d be all that much of a change from the man he’s replacing. Farrell is likely a little more analytically-inclined than Gardenhire, though neither are to the level that many of us would like. Additionally, look at both track records, we see two managers who have had regular season success. The biggest criticism of Farrell in recent years is his inability to get over the hump in the postseason, something Gardenhire’s Twins were never able to do. The Red Sox could do worse than Gardenhire at the helm, but they could also do better. Always aim for better.