Commentary

Not an unopposed election?

On this November Tuesday, Cherington insisted Dale Sveum isn't Sox's only candidate

Updated: November 16, 2011, 5:42 PM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

MILWAUKEE -- New general manager Ben Cherington continued to insist Tuesday that he expects "at least one other finalist" besides Dale Sveum for the Boston Red Sox managing job.

But while Sveum is here for a meet 'n' greet Wednesday afternoon with Red Sox owners John W. Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner -- none of whom are strangers, since Sveum was with Boston for two years as the team's third-base coach -- Cherington said he has yet to "narrow in" on who that other finalist will be. And oh, on Friday he is headed to the Dominican Republic, where he intends to get a firsthand look at Cuban outfield phenom Yoenis Cespedes, who is already a Hall of Famer on YouTube.

So Sveum is meeting the owners, the other candidate has yet to be identified and Cherington is leaving the country, less than a week before Cherington's hoped-for deadline of Thanksgiving to have a new manager in place.

All of which raises the following question: Could Cherington envision a scenario in which he doesn't summon a second finalist?

"Not right now I don't," Cherington said. "I don't envision a scenario where there won't be at least one more candidate discussed. As in every question, most every question, I can't rule anything out, but I would expect at least one other candidate discussed."

There's a big difference, of course, between discussing another candidate and bringing him in for a second interview, which tends to reinforce the impression that all that is standing between Sveum and becoming the 45th manager of the Red Sox is a collective nod from the Three Wise Men. For the owners to decide otherwise likely would be perceived as a repudiation of the judgment of their hand-picked successor to Theo Epstein, which would seem to be highly unlikely.

Or, of course, there really is a second candidate, even if he has not been identified, and ownership will get to cast the deciding vote. There is one other potential complication: Sveum also is scheduled to meet again with the Chicago Cubs, although they are expected to have another round of conversations with all of their candidates and are taking advantage of Sveum's presence here to do it in person.

Cherington did not seem particularly alarmed by the Cubs' potential to mess up his plans.

"It is a factor, I guess," he said. "A lot of the candidates are similar. We're going have a manager. The Cubs will have a manager. I'm not sure the right person is the same person for both jobs. We don't have the field to ourselves. That is a factor, but it probably affects the timing more than anything. The jobs aren't the same."

The Cubs interviewed one candidate, Mike Maddux, who turned down an invitation from the Red Sox, saying Boston was too far from his Dallas home to suit his family. The Cubs also interviewed Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who was a finalist in Boston before Terry Francona was hired in 2003 but didn't get asked by Boston this go-round.

"As DeMarlo understands, we think really highly of him," Cherington said of Hale. "We'd love to have him back in the organization. Because of the way the season ended, it was going to be a difficult fit for him in the manager's role for 2012 with the Red Sox, but he's a very capable guy and we think very highly of him."

[+] EnlargeYoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Ismael Francisco/Prensa LatinaIf Cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes is all he's cracked up to be, he'd look nice in the outfield at Fenway Park.

Cherington spent most of the day in meetings with fellow GMs reviewing the agenda set forth by the commissioner's office. He squeezed in a conversation with Theo Epstein over the compensation owed the Cubs by the Red Sox for their ex-GM and joked that the only trade he was involved in was the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell deal with the Marlins.

Cherington said he expected they would talk again Tuesday night, an evening he said he also had time set aside for conversations with a few teams and agents regarding the Sox's primary needs for both starting and relief pitching. There are closers available in trades as well as free agency, he said, while again citing his desire to find "buy-low solutions" for starting pitching.

He said he is looking forward to seeing Cespedes, a home run champion in Cuba whose agents have assembled a video displaying his prowess at the plate and in his workouts. Lots of teams are interested in Cespedes, who won't come cheap but fits the profile of a primary Boston need: a right-handed hitting outfielder with pop.

"He's certainly an intriguing talent, a guy who has performed in Cuba," Cherington said. "He's a right-handed hitting outfielder with tools and power, and he has been impressive in some workouts. We need to get to know him a lot better. We'll know him better after we get down there this weekend."

That is not Cherington's sole purpose in going to the Dominican. He said he also is looking to restructure the team's international operations, although he refused to say whether that would affect Craig Shipley, the team's senior vice president of player personnel and international scouting. Shipley's most notable contributions were the signings of Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and Cuban shortstop Jose Iglesias, although Matsuzaka ultimately fell well short of the stardom predicted of him.

Cherington is accompanied here by Mike Hazen, whom he acknowledged is in line to become the team's assistant GM. Hazen is currently the team's vice president of player development and amateur scouting.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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