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Hiring an interim manager for 2020 makes the most sense

Unless there’s a long-term candidate you love, just get through the season with an interim option.

Portland Sea Dogs vs. Altoona AA baseball Photo by Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Yesterday we talked a bit about some potential options to replace Alex Cora in the event the hammer was brought down upon the now-former Red Sox manager. Notice how I said “now-former.” Alex Cora was, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, let go yesterday in what is being described as a mutual decision. Now, Boston is left with another decision, and one that can actually be more accurately described as two decisions when it comes to replacing Cora in the dugout. Before they decide on who specifically it will even be, they need to figure out if they want their long-term answer starting this season or if they are going to wait until next winter to find their next manager.

I’ll be honest and say I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to say about the specifics of finding a new manager. It’s not that it’s not an important task, but rather I can’t tell you I have any sort of authoritative idea over who is a good choice and who is not. (Literally my only request is to not hire Buck Showalter. Even Bobby V would be so bad to the point of being hilarious.) So much of a manager’s job comes down to stuff we can’t really see that I don’t feel comfortable expressing any sort of strong opinion on any specific candidate.

2019 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

That being said, from where I sit it generally seems to make the most sense to look at a short-term answer for the 2020 season and then going into next season with a normal search for a manager. This is a major decision for a franchise. Obviously the Red Sox have cycled through managers like people cycle through toothbrushes (hopefully not literally) the last few years, but generally speaking the person running your dugout is a major presence for the direction of your organization. It’s something the Red Sox need to take this seriously.

While this hasn’t really come out of nowhere — the revelations Red Sox 2018 scheme was fairly recent, but the Astros’ allegations have been around for a while and Alex Cora’s involvement had been speculated — this has still happened relatively quickly. They’ve probably put some thought into possible future hires, but the acceleration into an actual search undoubtedly has been swift. There is a real risk in rushing things if you look for your future manager here.

The focus should be on the roster, for which there are still plenty of questions with spring training now fully in view. Obviously organizations can multi-task, but with major decisions — Mookie Betts, David Price, Jackie Bradley Jr. to name a few — to be made on the roster, and one wonders how much can really get done at once. Would opening up a full-blown managerial search put a hold — or at least a significant weight — on any player-movement decisions?

To me, the only way the Red Sox hire their long-term manager here is if they have a slam dunk candidate in mind. It’s not impossible that Bloom has a pretty good idea of who he wants to work with long-term, but this really only works if he is confident enough that he can basically forego a full search. Whether it’s Jason Varitek or Matt Quartraro or Sam Fuld or Dusty Baker or whoever else, you have to be really sure on a tight schedule that this is your guy, because they aren’t coming over unless they get some sort of assurance this is not going to be just a one-year gig.

I should also mention asking other organizations to interview personnel this late in the year seems murky, which is not to say they will deny their employees the chance but rather that I simply don’t know. It’s a unique situation. I also can’t seem to find if Bloom wasn’t allowed to take anyone over from Tampa Bay for his first year or if that clause was just limited to front office employees, which would affect the Quartraro interest.

Anyway, it just seems like it makes the most sense, from the outside at least, to hire an interim manager from the organization and have them take the reins for the 2020 season. After that, you can conduct a real search with the amount of attention and care something like this deserves. Now, I will also say that, on our podcast last night, Jake talked me into the idea that anyone from that 2018 staff — which is essentially the entire on-field staff right now — could be viewed as toxic. I’m not totally sure the team will feel the same way, but in that case you’re talking about someone like Billy McMillon. I would be fine with that. Hell, there’s even a chance he (or any other interim choice) manages well enough that he becomes your long-term choice based on what he does in 2020.

Either way, the focus here has to continue to be handling the roster and the players on the field. If you can conduct a quick search and get your long-term name in without too much of a detour in your winter? Great. Get it done. If it’s not an easy process, which would seem to me from the outside to be the more likely scenario, then just promote someone internally (whether that be Ron Roenicke or Carlos Febles or Billy McMillon or whoever else) and conduct your full search after the season.