McAdam: Will Cherington roll dice with Alomar?

583634.jpg

McAdam: Will Cherington roll dice with Alomar?

BOSTON -- When the Red Sox front office first began assembling names to interview for their managerial vacancy last month, the name that seemed to elicit the most excitement was Sandy Alomar Jr.

In canvassing others around the game and doing their due diligence, the Red Sox consistently heard nothing but positive things about the former catcher.

"As we were doing research on candidates," said general manager Ben Cherington, "his name kept coming up. I was actually with Sandy (in 1998 with Cleveland) and saw him in the clubhouse and saw the leader he was back then, the respect he had in that clubhouse. I've been sort of following him since then.

"And the research we did more recently, his name just kept coming up as a guy who has a ton of respect in the baseball community. He's an incredible talent, has instincts for the game, awareness --- that family just knows baseball better than most other families do."

Alomar would seem to have it all: instincts, leadership qualities, bloodlines, the ability to converse with players in his native language, Spanish, and a long successful playing career as a catcher that should translate into being able to run a pitching staff.

What he doesn't have, however, is any managerial experience.

Of any kind.

Anywhere.

He hasn't managed in winter ball or the minor leagues. He hasn't managed in the Arizona Fall League, a good proving ground.

In fact, of the five candidates the Red Sox have brought or plan to bring to Fenway to discuss the job, Alomar is the only one to have never managed a game at any level.

Pete Mackanin had two partial-season stints as an interim manager in the big leagues. Dale Sveum managed Milwaukee for a dozen games and a playoff series, and also managed three seasons at Double A. Torey Lovullo, due in Friday, has managed at every level of the minor leagues, including, most recently, at Pawtucket in 2010.

Gene Lamont, who will interview Saturday, managed both the Chicago White Sox (where he earned A.L. Manager of the Year honors) and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Alomar is missing that key ingredient. Or so it would seem.

Going back through recent history, it's hard to find a Red Sox manager who came to the job without at least some managerial experience. Terry Francona had four years in Philadelphia. Grady Little managed in the minor leagues.

Jimy Williams had previously managed in Toronto, and before him, Kevin Kennedy had managed Texas. Butch Hobson had managed multiple seasons in the minors. Joe Morgan was a minor-league manager seemingly forever, and John McNamara, his predecessor, had big-league managerial experience with four different franchises.

The last manager of the Red Sox to have not previously managed anywhere, in fact, was Joe Kerrigan. Kerrigan's 43-game stint, as most Red Sox fans recall was, in a word, disastrous.

Cherington went out of way to note that Alomar performed superbly in the game simulation exercises the Red Sox put every candidate through.

"Despite not managing a game," Cherington noted, "he sees the game very much like a manager does."

This is a particularly tough time to hire someone without experience, given how the team imploded in the final month of 2011, bereft of discipline and professionalism.

And this market isn't the best to learn on the job. Expectations are always high and tolerance for mistakes is almost non-existent.

"Some people take different routes," acknowledged Alomar. "I chose this way. I've learned a tremendous amount. I feel like I'm prepared to manage a major-league team even though I didn't manage in the minor leagues."

Alomar passed his first test Wednesday and didn't do anything to take himself out of consideration.

"It was worth getting to know him better," confirmed Cherington. "He's going to be a major-league manager, whether it's 2012 or sometime after that, I'm very confident."

The question is: Does Cherington feel confident to make his first managerial hire an unproven one, one without any experience?

It would constitute an enormous risk on Cherington. Indeed, if he hires Alomar, regardless of how it turns out, it may tell us more about the new GM and his willingness to take risks and trust his own instincts, than it does about Alomar himself.

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

IRVING, Texas -- Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport's industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.

"It's great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message.

In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball and the players' association said they will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.

"Happy it's done, and baseball is back on," Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.

Another important change: The minimum time for a stint on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021.

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

Union head Tony Clark, presiding over a negotiation for the first time, said in a statement the deal "will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow."

Key changes involve the qualifying offers clubs can make to their former players after they become free agents - the figure was $17.2 million this year. If a player turns down the offer and signs elsewhere, his new team forfeits an amateur draft pick, which usually had been in the first round under the old deal.

Under the new rules, a player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and will have 10 days to consider it instead of seven. A club signing a player who declined a qualifying offer would lose its third-highest amateur draft pick if it is a revenue-sharing receiver, its second- and fifth-highest picks (plus a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool) if it pays luxury tax for the just-ended season, and its second-highest pick (plus $500,000 in the international draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club losing a free agent who passed up a qualifying offer would receive an extra selection after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a contract for $50 million or more and after competitive balance round B if under $50 million. However, if that team pays luxury tax, the extra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

Among other details:

-For a team $40 million or more in excess of the luxury tax threshold, its highest selection in the next amateur draft will drop 10 places.

-While management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, it did get a hard cap on each team's annual bonus pool for those players starting at $4.75 million for the signing period that begins next July 2.

-There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.

-Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players, those who currently do not have at least one day of major league service.

-The regular season will expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days. There are additional limitations on the start times of night games on getaway days.

-The minimum salary rises from $507,500 to $535,000 next year, $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years; the minor league minimum for a player appearing on the 40-man roster for at least the second time goes up from $82,700 to $86,500 next year, $88,000 in 2018 and $89,500 in 2019, followed by cost-of-living raises.

-The drop-off in slot values in the first round of the amateur draft will be lessened.

-Oakland's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out.

-As part of the drug agreement, there will be increased testing, players will not be credited with major league service time during suspensions, and biomarker testing for HGH will begin next year.

Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before the old contract expired, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.

Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players' association held its annual executive board meeting.

Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children's choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3 1/2 hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.

The peace in baseball is in contrast to the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.