Red Sox

Hazen's goal: To take Diamondbacks 'to another level'

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Hazen's goal: To take Diamondbacks 'to another level'

PHOENIX -- Mike Hazen seemingly had the perfect job, working in his hometown as the general manager of the Boston Red Sox.

One aspect was missing: Final say in baseball decisions. That belonged to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

So even though Arizona is on the other side of the country and the franchise has been stuck in a rut, Hazen jumped at the chance to become vice president and general manager of the Diamondbacks.

"There are some great players here and my job is to help bring this franchise to the next level," Hazen said during his introductory news conference Monday. "It's an enormous responsibility and we're here to make a commitment to the fans. First and foremost we're here to win a championship."

With the addition of Hazen, Tony La Russa will shift from chief baseball officer into an advisory role. He had been in charge of the Diamondbacks' baseball operations since May 2014.

"I have 50 years of teaching and developed credibility and trust," La Russa said. "If I left after the season we had, I couldn't live with that the rest of my life."

Arizona was searching for someone with a blend of traditional baseball evaluation skills and analytics after firing GM Dave Stewart a day after the 2016 season end.

Hazen, 40, fits those skill sets.

He was a two-time All-Ivy League player at Princeton and played two seasons in the minors after graduating and being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1998.

Hazen spent five seasons with the Cleveland Indians, working in scouting and player development, before moving to Boston. He worked 11 seasons with the Red Sox, winning World Series titles in 2007 and 2013 while making the postseason five times.

Hazen was involved in every aspect of baseball operations in Boston and spent four seasons as assistant GM before being promoted to vice president and general manager before the 2016 season.

"He's been a part of championships, he's been a leader, he'll be a leader here and will, without a doubt, outwork us all," Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick said.

Hazen's first order of business will be to replace manager Chip Hale, who was fired the same day as Stewart.

He could turn to Phil Nevin, the manager of Arizona's Triple-A affiliate, who interviewed for the job when Hale was hired.

Another potential candidate could be Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, who has a good relationship with Hazen.

"In my opinion, he is ready to be a major league manager," Dombrowski said from Boston. "Whether he would be their top choice, I can't say. We would not stand in his way."

After that, Hazen will begin reshaping an organization that has had only brief periods of success since winning the 2001 World Series.

Arizona won the 2011 NL West title, but followed that with five straight non-winning seasons. The Diamondbacks went 79-83 in their first season under Stewart and Hale, but took a step back this season (69-93) despite adding pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller.

"I want to help in any way possible in my role to make this a great franchise -- it is a great franchise -- to take it to another level," Hazen said. "It will be my goal every day I come to work, it'll be the goal of all those who work beside me and I'm excited to start doing that."

Merloni: Why Alex Cora could return as Red Sox manager in 2021

Merloni: Why Alex Cora could return as Red Sox manager in 2021

Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways last week as a result of the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. But is there a chance he could return as Boston's manager in 2021?

That'll depend on the length of Cora's impending suspension. The ex-Red Sox skipper is expected to receive at least a one-year ban for his role in the Astros scandal, and it could exceed that if MLB finds wrongdoing by the 2018 Red Sox in their current investigation.

The Red Sox, though, believe they'll get off scot-free. If that's the case, Cora could be a managerial candidate again in 2021 and thus a reunion with Boston would be a possibility.

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Thursday on NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight," Lou Merloni explained why it would make sense to hire an interim manager like bench coach Ron Roenicke for the 2020 season and then explore options -- potentially Cora -- next offseason.

To me, I don't think Chaim Bloom his first hire for a manager he goes out and hires the best of what's left ... The next manager, I don't think you want to just take what's best. You want to wait and, you know, that's why you want to go interim for a year, and then you look at a bigger pool. One that may include Alex Cora ... 

Cora's a longshot. But we've got to see what happens with the investigation. We've got to hear from him after the investigation. We've got to see how the summer goes, the PR, how Roenicke does. I think you say, 'Ron, you're the manager of the team. We'll re-evaluate at the end of the year, there's no promises, I'm not going to give you a four-year deal, and you'll be up for the job next year too. We'll see what happens.'

Given Cora's current reputation around the league for his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal, it's difficult to imagine the Red Sox bringing him back. However, owner John Henry reportedly had every intention of keeping Cora, so maybe it wouldn't be so farfetched after all.

Tomase: Handicapping the Red Sox managerial candidates

Lou Merloni: Red Sox 'believe they will [get off scot-free]'

Lou Merloni: Red Sox 'believe they will [get off scot-free]'

The Boston Red Sox are facing a lot of unexpected uncertainty at this stage in the offseason. The team fired their manager Alex Cora amid a sign-stealing scandal from his time with the Houston Astros. And now, they're searching for a replacement.

At this point in the offseason, there aren't a lot of options available. And most of the best candidates may come internally.

That said, the Red Sox will want to make sure that none of those internal candidates, namely Ron Roenicke, were involved in any sort of sign stealing during Cora's Red Sox tenure.

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And just how would they do that? Lou Merloni offered up a potential solution on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition on Thursday night.

"What you do is you don't even name the manager," Merloni said. "You go into spring training if you have to, whenever this investigation is over. Roenicke runs the team. [Jason] Varitek has more responsibility in camp.

"And when the report comes out -- and if it's what they believe it is, that they're clean -- then Roenicke's the manager, 'Tek's the bench coach and you go from there with no promises of the future and you just say this is the way we go. I think that's the easiest transition for everyone in that locker room."

This definitely would be a sensible route for the team to take. Essentially, they can have Roenicke continue to serve as the manager without officially naming him the manager until they know the results of the investigation.

And according to Merloni, the team does believe that Roenicke and other members of their staff are clean and as a result, the team won't be punished.

"I'm hearing that they believe they are [going to get off scot-free]," Merloni said. "They believe that what they're told is true and that they didn't do anything. And if they didn't do anything, there's no reason for punishment."

It's unclear exactly when the MLB's investigation will be complete, but this will certainly be something to watch moving forward. For the time being though, the Red Sox seem content to stick with what they have provided that everything comes back clean.