The Boston Red Sox need a proven manager, and Brad Ausmus just wants a job. The two parties could help each other.
Last week Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a nine-page statement on Major League Baseball’s findings concerning the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Alex Cora, who was Boston’s manager the last two seasons, has been at fault throughout every leg of the investigation.
With Astros general manger Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch being suspended through the 2020 season, the Red Sox got out ahead of MLB’s ruling on Cora, “mutually parting ways” with the skipper. There will likely be more discipline towards Astros executives, coaches, and players over the coming weeks, but one thing is certain: the Red Sox need a manager.
Ausmus actually interviewed to be Boston’s manager in 2017 after John Farrell was fired. Ultimately, Cora landed the job. Under his watch, the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series, and he turned out to be part of the Astros’ disgraceful practices — which triggered his termination. This is easily one of the craziest coaching tenures in the history of professional sports.
Ausmus has two managerial stints under his belt, the first being with the Detroit Tigers from 2014-17.
Unfortunately for the former catcher, his Tigers teams didn’t endure much postseason success, and they endured two losing seasons. In 2014 they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Division Series and missed the playoffs by three games in 2016. However, they managed to win 86 games with an inconsistent starting rotation outside of Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer in the latter year.
The ensuing season the Tigers traded away a handful of premier players such as Verlander, J.D. Martinez, and Justin Upton and moved on from Ausmus in the offseason.
Last season Ausmus was named the Los Angeles Angels manager. While they, at best, forecasted to be the third-best team in the American League West behind the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics, the Angels finishing 72-90 was a disappointing outcome given their array of high-profile bats, as well as them being in the AL Wild Card mix around the MLB trade deadline.
In a bit of a surprising move, the Angels cut ties with their manager at season’s end to bring in Joe Maddon, who had 31 years of experience in the organization under his belt. All that said, firing a manager after just one season is harsh and unwarranted, especially when you take into account how the Angels weren’t a shoo-in to make the playoffs.
Spearheaded by Martinez, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox were first in MLB in hits (1,554), third in batting average (.269), fourth in runs (901) and total bases (2,688), and fifth in OPS (.805) last season.
Meanwhile, their starting rotation features one of baseball’s preeminent starting pitchers, Chris Sale, up-and-comer Eduardo Rodriguez, and veterans David Price and Nathan Eovaldi.
The New York Yankees signing Gerrit Cole makes them the clear-cut favorite to win the AL, and the Tampa Bay Rays are a well-rounded ballclub with arguably the best pitching staff in baseball. On the other hand, the Red Sox sport a potent ballclub themselves and have the personnel to get back to the playoffs — and compete for the AL East.
We can debate whether the Red Sox were an analytically-driven team or stole signs using technology under Cora, but this was an immensely talented ballclub before he assumed control of the team’s dugout. Whether it be Betts, Bogaerts, Devers, or Benintendi, Boston’s homegrown players found success prior to 2018. Some of their starting pitchers were also in place prior to 2018 such as Sale, Price, and Rodriguez.
The foundation is the same. The talent is clearly there. This is a win-now team, and having someone with experience is ideal for the job. With spring training creeping up, does Boston brain trust want to put the hands of its franchise in a kid who has to take notes in three weeks with no managerial experience?
If the Red Sox get back to the playoffs and/or find sustained success under Ausmus, he could be viewed as the figure that helped them right the ship. It would help him secure trust from the organization to stick long term and add a positive section to his resume. For Boston’s sake, they’d be getting a manager who’s looking to rewrite his coaching career, is motivated, and could get them moving in the right direction.
Hey, Joe Torre struggled mightily in his time managing the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, and St Louis Cardinals. Then he went to the Yankees and 25 years later he’s one of the best managers in MLB history. That’s not to say that Ausmus is going to become Torre, rather it can take time to find success managing at the big-league level.
Outside of Cora, it’s unclear if anyone in Boston is guilty in MLB’s sign-stealing scandal. If there’s more findings that show the Red Sox are guilty of wrongdoing, then the job could be difficult to sell. To this point, we don’t have that information.
Ausmus was fired by the Angels after one season for the sake of the team wanting to bring in a sexy name, and he was fired in the midst of management transitioning into a rebuild two years earlier. Concurrently, Boston is trying to overcome a PR nightmare and a delicate matter that has the potential to stain the careers of many renowned individuals. They each have something in common: they’ve faced adversity over the last year.
The Red Sox springboard Ausmus’ career, and he gives them an experienced manager.
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