Disclaimer: Let’s take Alex Cora’s name out of this conversation for the time being. There will be time for that debate later.
When Ron Roenicke was let go by the Red Sox Sunday plenty of folks immediately started making their list of candidates who might become the team’s next manager.
There Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, who has obvious connections with Chiam Bloom. Arizona coach Luis Urueata is a young and up-and-coming candidate who interviewed with the Red Sox last winter. Mark Kotsay certainly presents an intriguing option, having been on multiple teams’ radar in the last year or so while contributing to the highly-successful A’s way of doing things. And Jason Varitek is perhaps the most viable in-house candidate.
But few if any are surfacing a name that at least deserves conversation: John Gibbons.
Most who are compiling the lists are rightfully focused on the obvious talking points: Analytics-friendly. Connection to Bloom. Perhaps fairly young and energetic. Coming from a flavor-of-the-month franchise. Someone similar to what Cora brought to the table.
When going down that list the former Blue Jays manager might not jump to top of mind. But don’t sleep the 58-year-old’s candidacy.
We already have documented proof Bloom seems to like him.
Gibbons was one of the few candidates who actually got in-person interviews with the Red Sox front office last winter, having been flown into Boston for a three-day stay. And, by most accounts, the get-togethers actually went well.
So what would Gibbons — who has 11 years of managing experience with the Blue Jays, having finished off the second of his two stints in 2018 — bring to the table?
For starters, the 58-year-old is about as real as you’re going to find. Think Terry Francona real. He is tough but self-deprecating at the same time. Gibbons isn’t driven by ego, which when having to adjust to the changing ways of baseball is of particular value.
Gibbons has managed 1,582 major league regular season games, and 20 more in the postseason.
And having lived life in the American League East, Bloom saw a lot of him. One hundred and 14 games to be exact. And judging by the January interview, there must have been something that struck a chord. And the Red Sox executive wasn’t alone in his admiration Gibbons, who also spent last offseason interviewing for the Astros job.
The names will keep coming. But understand throughout the process that this guessing game isn’t as easy as some want to think. It wasn’t 10 months ago, and it isn’t now.
And that’s why you shouldn't sleep on Gibbons when forming those hypothesis.