Red Sox

Red Sox begin interview process with Mackanin

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Red Sox begin interview process with Mackanin

BOSTON The Red Sox did something on Monday they have not had to do for eight years: interview a managerial candidate.

Pete Mackanin was the first prospect the Sox called in their search to replace Terry Francona, whose eight-season tenure ended Sept. 30. Mackanins day began at about 9 a.m. and was scheduled to continue after his early evening meeting with the media.

It went very well, Mackanin said. They were very accommodating. There were some interesting exercises to go through. But, it went very well as far as Im concerned.

The interview process included game simulations and analyses.

We picked bits and pieces of two or three different games and provided Pete with some info on situations and let him talk to us about what he would be seeing and thinking about during the game, said general manager Ben Cherington.

Mackanin, 60, has paid his dues. For the past three seasons, he has served as Charlie Manuels bench coach in Philadelphia. He has spent parts of two seasons managing in the majors, both on an interim basis. In 2005 he took over the Pirates job from Lloyd McClendon, going 12-14. In 2007, he took over the Reds job from Jerry Narron, going 41-39. Mackanin managed in the minors for 13 seasons, winning league championships in 1995 with Ottawa in the International League and in 2002 with Lynchburg in the Carolina. In 1995 he was named the Sporting News minor league manager of the year. He has also managed in Venezuela for two seasons, leading his team to the 1988-89 Caribbean Series championships; in the Dominican Winter League and in the Puerto Rico Winter league.

He has served as an advance scout for the Reds and a pro scout for the Yankees. He began his major league coaching career in 1997 with the Expos, serving as third base coach for seven seasons, and the Pirates bench coach for three seasons.

Hes got a really broad set of experiences, Cherington said. Managed a ton of games in the minor leagues, Caribbean, some on the big-league level. Hes been off the field as a scout and hes been part of good Major League teams as a coach. So hes got a really broad set of experiences that appeal to us. He can see the game from different perspectives which I think is a benefit. Hes got a real sort of good way about him, good sense of humor, mature, and a good reputation from every clubhouse that hes been a part of. So we wanted to get a chance to know him better and this is a good opportunity to do it.

I was impressed by him as a person. Hes certainly got a good sense of who he is. Hes got a good sort of maturity about him, wisdom, baseball wisdom. Hes been through a lot in this game--all different sorts of jobs in all different sorts of places and he's got some tricks up his sleeve I think because of those experiences and hes a pleasant guy to talk to and clearly has a feel for players and what they need. So it was a good chance to get to know him and hopefully a good chance for him to get to know us.

Mackanin, primarily an infielder with a handful of games in the outfield, spent parts of nine seasons playing for the Rangers, Expos, Phillies, and Twins. A fourth-round pick of the Senators in 1969, his manager in his first big league camp was Ted Williams.

Williams and Manuel are just two of the managerial influences he draws upon.

I played for Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Dick Williams, Bobby Cox, Gene Mauch, Dallas Green, Danny Ozark, he said. I dont want to leave any of them out, but a lot of pretty good managers that had a lot of success. And I've taken a little something from everything. I think the guy that probably meant a lot to me was Gene Mauch, just the way he treated position players. He didnt like pitchers that much but a position player, he really made us feel like we were pretty good players. I take a little bit from everybody.

I coached third for Felipe Alou and he had a certain way about him that was interesting . . . He was a pretty good communicator and motivator. And Lloyd McClendon was a good motivator in his own way.

Cherington has said he would like a manager with a strong voice. Mackanin was asked if he sees himself more as a players manager or disciplinarian.

I consider myself both, he said. I think you have to have an element of both sides of that in order to be a good motivator. To me its like the way you handle your kids. I used to tell my son I wear two caps. One has a D on it and one has a P on it. One is for Dad the other is for Pal. When i got the P cap on were pals. When I put the D cap on you do what I tell you. I think theres a factor thats involved in that to where you have to have enough discipline but at the same time let the players play easy. You dont want them tense.

Mackanin followed the Sox historic September collapse from afar, focusing more on his own teams issues.

Although the Phillies did win 102 games, we still were concerned about a few things, he said. We didnt worry about the Boston Red Sox. We were worried about the Philadelphia Phillies. As far as what occurred, i only hear bits and pieces and Im really not interested at this point. If I get the job, Im going to deal with it with Ben.

Mackanin has also heard of the unseemly behavior in the clubhouse during games. But, thats a matter for another time, further along in the process, he said.

Apart from his two interim stints as manager, this was Mackanins second time interviewing for a big league managing job. He was also a candidate for the Astros job that went to former Sox bench coach Brad Mills in 2009.

I would like to think that after 43 years in the game, if you read my resume, Im pretty well-rounded and Ive done just about everything, Mackanin said. So is it going to hurt to ask me a few questions? Look at my success. Ive had a winning record, won a Caribbean World Series, won some championships in the minor leagues and been on some pretty good teams in the major leagues.

The Sox will bring in Dale Sveum, Milwaukees hitting coach who was the Sox third base coach in 2004 and 2005, to interview on Wednesday. Cherington has said he would like to meet with at least five or six candidates in the first round, but has not asked permission to speak with anyone else yet. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale and third base coach Tim Bogar are two potential in-house candidates, but Cherington has not made a decision on that yet.

We havent ruled it out, he said. But I can't say that that will happen for sure.

With Tony LaRussa announcing his retirement Monday, the Sox competition for managerial candidates increased. The Cardinals are the only other team with an open managers spot, but that could change if Mike Quade is released by the Cubs. Cherington does not expect that to impact the Sox process, though.

If we sort of narrow in on someone we want to hire, it becomes hire that guy before someone else does, Cherington said. But were nowhere near that and Id much rather take our time and get it right than hurry into one guy or another guy just because we think someone else might be interested.

Hope it doesnt get to December. Well see. Were going to use this week and probably part of next week to have an initial round of interviews and therell probably be follow-ups. So our hope is that we have a manager in place before Thanksgiving. But Francona was hired after Thanksgiving. So well see. I dont want to put a date on it.

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

MORE RED SOX:

Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.