Boston Red Sox: Tony Pena

Hale latest to interview, but who's the fave?

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
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DeMarlo HaleJ. Meric/Getty ImagesDeMarlo Hale interviewed Thursday for the Red Sox manager job, the fourth candidate to do so.
BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington & Co. have interviewed four candidates for the club's vacant managerial position. Now it's time to regroup, assess and determine its next step.

A team source said management and ownership would meet Friday to evaluate the current situation.

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Even though the Red Sox have interviewed Los Angeles Dodgers coach Tim Wallach, New York Yankees coach Tony Pena, San Diego Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus and Baltimore Orioles third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, current Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell remains in the mix. Though both the Jays and Sox have kept it quiet, it's safe to assume they've begun compensation talks for the former Red Sox pitching coach.

The same team source said there was nothing new to report on Farrell, but the Red Sox were "impressed with all of the candidates interviewed" at this point.

It's no secret the Red Sox have longed to have Farrell as their manager in Boston. He was once thought to be the guy to eventually replace Terry Francona. In a roundabout way that could still happen, as the Red Sox and Blue Jays attempt to figure out compensation.

A baseball source told ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes that Ausmus made an impressive presentation Wednesday, but said there has been no discussion of teaming Ausmus with Farrell.

The Red Sox attempted to acquire Farrell a year ago, but they weren't willing to surrender to Toronto's asking price of what was rumored to be pitchers Clay Buchholz and/or Daniel Bard. If the sides end up in a stalemate again this time, Boston's Plan B could be to select from one of the four the team has already interviewed.

Cherington is up front and honest. So, it wouldn't be a surprise if he has told the current candidates Plans A and B.

So who's it going to be? For now, mum's the official word. Your guess is as good as anyone's at the point.

But things could change relatively quickly, so stay tuned ...

Farrell still looms in Sox manager search

October, 18, 2012
10/18/12
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[+] EnlargeDeMarlo Hale and Terry Francona
Michael Zagaris/Getty ImagesDeMarlo Hale, shown here with then-Boston manager Terry Francona in 2011, is next up to interview for Sox skipper.
BOSTON -- Thursday marks two weeks since the Boston Red Sox fired Bobby Valentine as manager. By the end of the day, they will have completed interviews with four candidates to replace him, with former Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale getting an opportunity Thursday that was denied him last season when Terry Francona was fired.

No other candidates have been announced, although -- in a marked departure from other managerial searches conducted since John W. Henry became owner -- the Sox have opted for much less transparency this go-round, doing away with the media sessions that had served a dual purpose in the past. The media were given access to the candidates, and the ballclub evaluated the candidates on the way they interacted with the media.

But the question hanging over the process is whether the Red Sox will proceed with a plan to pursue Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell. The Sox would be required to obtain the Blue Jays' permission to interview the former Red Sox pitching coach and most likely would have to negotiate a compensation package to hire him.

According to an industry source with knowledge of the team's search, Sox majority owner John W. Henry reached out last Friday to Blue Jays CEO Paul Beeston, although no officials from either club, including Henry, would confirm that conversations have taken place. A baseball source said that Farrell, who is entering the final season of a three-year deal with the Blue Jays, has not been told by the Jays that there have been discussions with the Sox.

The interviews already held may merely represent a contingency plan in the event negotiations for Farrell fail. The other possibility, however, holds out much greater hope for the candidates already in play, that the Sox are trying to determine whether there is another candidate who might trump Farrell in their esteem.

The Sox would appear to have reached the point in their search in which a decision must be made on Farrell. The GM meetings are scheduled to begin in three weeks, and it would seem that both the Sox and Jays would want some clarity by then on who their managers will be next season.

None of the four candidates interviewed by Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and his baseball operations staff -- Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach, Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus, and Orioles third-base coach Hale -- were brought in during the team's managerial search last winter.

Only Pena has managed in the big leagues before, and in his case, that may not be a clear-cut advantage, given the way his three-year run with the Kansas City Royals went: He won AL Manager of the Year his first season, lost 104 games the second, then quit in early May of the third.

All have interviewed previously for big league jobs. Hale has the deepest resume, with multiple stints as minor league manager and big league coach. Wallach has also managed on the minor league level and coached on the big league level. Ausmus has neither managed nor coached.

Wallach and Pena, both 55, are the oldest of the four candidates (Pena is a couple of months older). Hale is 51. Ausmus, at 43, is the youngest.

Wallach, Pena and Ausmus all enjoyed long playing careers in the big leagues. Wallach, who retired at age 38, played in 2,212 games and was a five-time All-Star. Pena, who retired at age 40, played in 1,988 games and also was a five-time All-Star. Ausmus, who retired at age 41, played in 1,971 games and was named an All-Star once. Hale never played in the big leagues.

Three of the candidates have ties to the Red Sox or club officials. Hale played, managed and coached in the Red Sox system. Pena played four seasons for the Sox, and his son played for Triple-A Pawtucket. Ausmus, a native of New Haven, Conn., with a degree in government from Dartmouth, broke into the big leagues with the San Diego Padres, when Sox chairman Tom Werner owned the club, and continued while Sox CEO Larry Lucchino held the same position with the Padres.

Only Wallach has no obvious ties to the Red Sox or the team's current management, although he was a former teammate of Francona when they played together in Montreal.

All four candidates appear to offer a stark contrast in style to Valentine, certainly in terms of personality, temperament and ways in which they interact with players. Whether that translates into greater success remains to be seen, although in dismissing Valentine after just one season, the Sox are betting heavily that is the case.

Candidate Pena 'ready for the challenge'

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
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BOSTON -- The Red Sox had to work around the Yankees’ playoff schedule Monday in order to squeeze in an interview with Tony Pena for their managerial vacancy.

After the Yankees lost their third straight in the ALCS Tuesday night to the Detroit Tigers, that shouldn’t be a problem if the Sox elect to bring back Pena for a second look.

[+] EnlargeTony Pena
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWith the Yankees one game from being eliminated, New York bench coach Tony Pena may have time on his hands soon.
It’s hard to gauge Pena’s chances. On the one hand, he’s a former American League Manager of the Year in Kansas City, where he was hired by Allard Baird, now one of Ben Cherington’s top assistants. Pena took a team that lost 100 games and finished with a winning record (83-79) in 2003.

But the Royals lost a franchise-record 104 games in ’04, and Pena’s managerial career ended in shocking fashion when he quit the following May after a loss in Toronto dropped the team’s record to 8-25. Managers seldom quit. They get fired. Managers who quit seldom get another chance.

The losing had extracted an obvious toll on Pena, who had taken Kansas City by storm with his endless energy and fun-loving personality, the same qualities that had endeared him to Boston fans when he was a Red Sox catcher for four seasons (1990-93) after being a five-time All-Star in the National League.

Pena made “We Believe” a T-shirt slogan that long-suffering Royals fans wore with pride in 2003. He came back the following spring with “Juntos Podemos” -- Together We Can -- little knowing that would prove to be a prescriptive for freefall.

"I have to be around my boys," Pena had said of his constant need to interact with his players. "It's like your house. If you are not around your kids, you don't know what they are doing. Baseball is the same thing. I want to know what's going on. I want to know how they think."

And then he walked out on them.

“I lost energy, and it's not fun," he said afterward. "It's better to turn it over to somebody who's having fun."

Pena returned to baseball the following season as the Yankees’ first-base coach. When Joe Torre left, he interviewed for his job, but Joe Girardi was hired. Pena remained in pinstripes, and now serves as Girardi’s bench coach. At 55, the fun and energy are back.

“I’m ready for the challenge, no question,” Pena told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald in Detroit on Tuesday. “When you manage the first time and you come around a second time, you have more time to think about it. You have more time to learn. Every day is something new in baseball and you know more and more about the game. Right now, I’m better than I was. There’s no question about that.”

The field of candidates for the job is comprised of four men at the moment. Two -- the Dominican-born Pena and Orioles third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, an African-American -- satisfy MLB’s preference that teams interview minority candidates.
Neither Pena nor Hale, who was on Terry Francona’s coaching staff, were asked to interview last year after Francona was fired.

Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach was the first to interview, last Friday. Former Astros catcher Brad Ausmus, now a special assistant with the Padres, is scheduled to interview Wednesday, Hale on Thursday.

Still hovering in the background is John Farrell, the Toronto manager who has been identified as Boston’s preferred choice but as of Tuesday had not been informed, according to a baseball source, that the Red Sox have asked for permission to talk with him.

Pena is the only one of the four declared candidates with big-league managing experience. In his case, it may be both blessing and curse. He says he is better for it. Whether the Sox believe so remains to be seen.

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