Monday, September 10, 2012

Tony LaRussa and the Boston Red Sox

Is Tony LaRussa eyeing the Red Sox managerial job?
Tom Kelly suggested Saturday that his old buddy and rival
wants to return to the dugout, and Boston might be his
preferred destination.
Bobby Valentine is widely viewed as a dead man walking with the Boston Red Sox; indeed, he might well have been fired already had the now-notorious players-ownership meeting remained secret. Once that cat got out of the bag, it started having kittens all over the Boston media. Canning Bobby V. at that point would have suggested that the inmates were running the asylum.

Still, it's almost impossible to imagine Valentine back at the helm next season, which raises the question: Who should step into this pressure cooker of a job?

It's a bear. The Red Sox manager, whoever he is, must deal with

  • an overbearing media with a penchant for putting everything under a melodramatic microscope;
  • an ownership group with a demonstrated willingness to undermine underlings;
  • a clubhouse of highly paid egos; and
  • a fan base that believes it is entitled to championships.

Keeping all four groups happy is next to impossible, which is why Terry Francona is in the broadcast booth these days. Valentine has worked a clean sweep; all four groups appear to be in agreement about him.

I had figured that the Sox would look for someone along the lines of Francona, and likely one of his former coaches who have gone on to manage other teams. Maybe Brad Mills, fired this summer in Houston; perhaps John Farrell, who is still the manager in Toronto.

Tom Kelly offered another notion Saturday during a visit to the Twins TV booth on his number-retirement day.  Somebody raised the topic of Tony LaRussa, TK's great buddy and long-ago rival — from 1987 through 1992, the Twins and A's never played a series without one of the teams being in first place in the old AL West.

LaRussa, of course, stepped down as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals after winning the World Series last year. But Kelly, implying strongly that he had this from the horse's mouth, said LaRussa is itching to get back into managing. And when Dick Bremer mentioned Boston, Kelly essentially said, yeah, that's the idea.

It's a fascinating proposition, LaRussa in Boston. This is one of the most accomplished managers in the game's history; if there's anybody who can impose his will on the chaos that seems to accompany the Red Sox, LaRussa's probably the man.

On the other hand, LaRussa's constant belligerence is rather antithetical to the approach that worked for Francona. Playing in Boston is tough enough without a manager who's constantly looking to create conflict. Francona's genius was in removing friction; LaRussa seems addicted to it.

So does Valentine, and we've seen this year what that style leads to in Boston. LaRussa's better at that style than Valentine, and maybe he could pull it off in Beantown, but he seems an ill fit for that environment.

1 comment:

  1. I would like to see Ryne Sandburg get a chance at an MLB managerial job. He has had much success at every level he has managed in the minors. However, I would not wish the manager's job in Beantown on my worst enemy!