Since the White Sox fired Mark Parent, we've spent time trying to identify the best/most probable bench coach candidates.
Daryl Van Schouwen tells us we missed the most obvious one.
The White Sox have talked to Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. about becoming manager Robin Ventura’s bench coach, Alomar confirmed Friday.
A six-time All-Star catcher who enjoyed a 20-year major league career, Alomar played in parts of four seasons with the White Sox in 2002-04 and 2006 and is known to be highly thought of by the Sox front office.
“It’s something that’s being discussed but nothing is firm right now.’’ [...]
“We’ll discuss some things,’’ Alomar said. “They know I’m happy in Cleveland but it doesn’t hurt to talk. That’s where we’re at right now.’’
In fairness to us -- or me, at least -- I thought that Alomar was still Cleveland's bench coach, and that's the kind of lateral move that doesn't happen, whether because teams don't grant permission, or simply because there's nothing in it for the coach in question.
However, Alomar's coaching career in Cleveland has taken its twists and turns. He came back to the Indians as Manny Acta's first-base coach after the 2009 season, and moved up to bench coach two years later. That allowed him to temporary manage the Indians after Acta was dismissed during the last week of the 2012 season.
The Indians considered removing the "interim" tag from Alomar's title, but instead hired Terry Francona. Francona retained Alomar as his bench coach, but Francona hired his old Boston bench coach, Brad Mills, to serve on his staff as a third-base coach. A year later, though, Francona returned Mills to the bench coach role, and put Alomar back at first base.
"Sandy's passion, a lot of it, is being what a first-base coach does," Francona said. "I didn't ever want it to be a demotion, so we walked through that. Actually, we walked through it last year, but I didn't want to do it, and he was more than willing at the time. But I just didn't want it to appear like a demotion, because it's not."
So now that Alomar is a first-base coach and we're all aware of it, this seems quite possible and quite obvious. I would be almost cliche to hire him, although it'd be a cromulent decision as well.
It's a White Sox hire because: The White Sox had Alomar for three separate stints, and his brother Roberto for two different campaigns, and we're coming up 10 years without an Alomar of any sort. That's way too long. Nature abhors a vacuum. Measure twice, Alomar thrice. You know the deal.
It's a cromulent hire because: He's long been considered future management material, and has been tied to a number of searches. One of those was thought to be the White Sox, but it turned out they'd already hired their man and thus never opened a thorough search process. Also, with Cleveland he's worked in a sabermetric-oriented organization for two analytically-inclined managers (especially Acta), so he would theoretically meet that part of the job description outlined by Rick Hahn.
Working against Alomar is ... well, mainly circumstantial evidence. He was the bench coach for Acta, who was fired after the Indians went 15-42 in his last 57 games, including an incredible 5-24 record in August 2012. He's also been passed over for a number of managerial openings, including the Indians, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Red Sox and Blue Jays.
Counterpoints: The Indians made their only postseason appearance this decade with Alomar on the bench for Francona, and they've fallen short in the two seasons since Mills replaced him. And there's risk in speculating about why a minority candidate hasn't been hired for something bigger. On Friday, Jon Heyman wrote about the difficulties they have breaking through to the upper ranks:
In just the past few years alone, Dusty Baker, Rick Renteria, Ozzie Guillen, Bo Porter have and Ron Washington (who resigned) are among minorities who lost jobs. In the case of Baker, he was fired after winning 97 and 90 games in his final two years; meanwhile, his replacement, Bryan Price, is being brought back to manage next after following that act with 76 wins, then 64 wins.
While MLB provides guidance to teams in the GM hiring process, it has developed a much longer list of managerial candidates that's seemingly growing by the firing. But some of the names on the GM list are tired of being used to fulfill the minority interview requirement.
With a few managerial positions unresolved -- the Mariners just joined the Nationals and Marlins in this department -- Alomar might not want to commit to a coaching role so quickly. But if he's on the outside of yet another game of musical chairs, the White Sox wouldn't be a bad landing spot, what with Robin Ventura needing to show results. Alomar isn't experienced enough to overshadow Ventura, but he would provide a stand-in managerial candidate if another slow start forced the Sox to change horses.