Boston Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo got lots of face time during the World Series, standing next to John Farrell, a potential Manager of the Year for overseeing that worst-to-first turnaround.
Farrell’s right-hand man raised his profile on national television as Lovullo became a hot name in the search for the next Cubs manager – and possibly a person of interest as the Detroit Tigers look to replace Jim Leyland.
The offseason officially began late Wednesday night as the Red Sox finished off the St. Louis Cardinals, winning their third title in 10 years and clinching their first World Series at Fenway Park since 1918. For a Cubs front office trying to make a hire, this should be crunch time – the space between Halloween and the Nov. 11 start of the GM meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Lovullo and the Red Sox will climb aboard duck boats on Saturday, riding down Boylston Street and onto the Charles River. At some point, he is expected to put down the champagne bottles and interview with Cubs executives who already have a scouting report.
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Lovullo, 48, worked for Cubs president Theo Epstein in 2010 as the manager of Boston’s Triple-A affiliate. That marked Lovullo’s ninth season as a minor-league manager after a nomadic playing career that brought him to the Tigers, New York Yankees, California Angels, Seattle Mariners, Oakland A’s, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies before a stop in Japan.
Lovullo – whose father was a producer on the TV show “Hee Haw” – grew up in California and went to UCLA. He would bring a Hollywood/John Wooden “Pyramid of Success” element to the press conference.
The X-factor candidate lurking in the background is San Diego Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus, who has a Dartmouth degree and three Gold Gloves on his resume. The ex-catcher was viewed as a future manager during his 18-year playing career. At the age of 44, he should have energy and instant credibility inside the clubhouse.
Ausmus interviewed with the Red Sox last year and has met with the Tigers and Washington Nationals. The thinking is this would be getting in early on a potential blue-chip stock.
Inside the organization, there is a feeling: If Ausmus is that good and could handle World-Series-or-bust teams, why not let him grow into the job with the 90-loss Cubs?
The counterargument: Ausmus doesn’t have traditional coaching experience and has only managed Team Israel in a qualifying tournament for the World Baseball Classic.
The Padres are not exactly a model franchise like the Cardinals or New England Patriots or San Antonio Spurs, but this front office has deep roots in San Diego. The Cubs have already interviewed Padres bench coach Rick Renteria and Padres executive A.J. Hinch.
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Eric Wedge – who managed the Indians and Mariners for 10 seasons – interviewed with the Cubs on Tuesday in Chicago. The Cubs have also met with Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Dave Martinez and ESPN analyst Manny Acta.
The month of October passed without the Cubs identifying a replacement for Dale Sveum and the Hot Stove season is about to begin. After the World Series, four Cubs became free agents – closer Kevin Gregg, pitcher Scott Baker, reliever Matt Guerrier and catcher Dioner Navarro – though that group is not really a top priority right now.
Before clinching the American League pennant, Farrell called Lovullo a “manager-in-waiting.” The Cubs, Tigers and Mariners have openings, so the wait could be over soon.