The view from above looks serene at Fenway Park, but the manager in the first-base dugout must be ready to deal with passionate fans who will question his every move. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox have interviewed several candidates wanting to be the team’s next manager, according to media reports. Here’s an open letter to the candidates thinking about coming to Boston:

Dear candidate,

I hear the Red Sox are considering you as their next manager. Congratulations. It’s a prestigious job and would undoubtedly be a great move for your career.

That said, it’s also one of the most demanding jobs in sports. Every man, woman and child in New England thinks they could do a better job managing the team than you. We take this stuff seriously around here, and you’ll have a fan base that knows what’s happening with this team.

Because of that, we will blame most of the team’s failures on you. It’ll be your fault when the bullpen gives up a lead, or when a starter can’t go deep, or when the bats go silent. There are very few baseball markets that lay so much of the blame on the decisions of the manager, and so little of it on the execution of the players.

And here’s the thing. As you may have heard, you’re inheriting a team with some real pitching issues. Chris Sale is an ace but hasn’t pitched like one in two years and won’t be ready for the start of the season after Tommy John surgery. Eduardo Rodriguez is one of the best young pitchers in the game but has had no baseball activities since he contracted COVID-19 in the summer. The hope is he’ll be ready for the start of the season but who knows?

There are complementary parts after that, but they come with question marks too. Can Nathan Eovaldi stay healthy? Can Martin Perez put together a full season of success? Is Nick Pivetta ready to be a full-time starter? Is Tanner Houck the real deal?

Lots of questions in the rotation. And many more in the bullpen. This isn’t exactly the “stable full of guys that throw 98 miles an hour” that Kevin Cash brags about in Tampa Bay. Managers are only as good as their bullpens, and this one needs an overhaul.

The good news is that you’re inheriting a lineup that should produce. The top four hitters in the lineup – Alex Verdugo, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez – stack up with just about any lineup in the American League. They’ll need a little pat on the back to get them to recover from all the bad things that happened in 2020.

Devers will really need a little TLC and personal attention. After showing significant improvement in 2019, he regressed defensively this season and led all of Major League Baseball with 14 errors. Alex Cora spent a lot of one-on-one time with him in 2018 and 2019, and you will probably need to build that same type of bond with this talented third baseman.

Martinez really missed his ability to access the video room in 2020. Those restrictions should be lifted at least in part for the coming season. In addition to getting him back to technology you need to get Martinez to believe in himself. He is without question one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. He shouldn’t need video to see that.

Andrew Benintendi will be back next season after missing most of 2020 with injury. You need to get him back to the form he showed when he took our breath away in 2018. He also needs to have a little fun; the struggles of the past two seasons seem to be weighing on him heavily.

You’ll be managing a team with a terrific PR and marketing department, and you shouldn’t have to worry about the brand’s image. But truth is it has taken a severe hit since that 2018 championship. Winning will turn that back around, but so will a little personality. Let Verdugo continue to show his energy and passion. Get Devers and Benintendi smiling again.  Let the intelligence of Bogaerts shine as he continues to emerge as a leader.

If you’re coming to Boston, you’ll need to deal with relentless media attention and pressure. Chances are it will be via Zoom when things begin in February, so you won’t have to deal with us face to face. When you do, tell it like it is. Don’t apologize for the players. Sox fans are too informed and sophisticated to let you get away with that. Be honest, whether you’re sharing good news or bad news.

Chances are you know all of this. You wouldn’t be ready to manage this team if you didn’t. It’s just worth reminding you that the team is at a critical juncture and needs a reset now.

Oh, and if you’re Alex Cora, disregard this letter. You already know all of this. Just do what you did in 2018 and we’ll be fine.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN and a Lewiston High School graduate.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: