Might the Red Sox make Brad Ausmus their next manager?

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The Red Sox have a few options as they embark on the hunt for a new manager for the second straight offseason.

– They can talk to the Blue Jays about a trade for John Farrell, their former pitching coach who left two years ago to manage in Toronto (I’m not a fan of this one).

– They can go take another look at several of the candidates they passed over in favor of Bobby Valentine last year. That list includes such names as Gene Lamont, Pete Mackanin, Sandy Alomar Jr., plus a couple of guys they chose not to interview in Dave Martinez and Ryne Sandberg.

– They can dip further into their past and interview former players Mike Lowell, Bill Mueller and Jason Varitek, if any of them want the job. Lowell’s name came up with the Marlins last month. Varitek, just hired as a special assistant, probably isn’t ready for the commitment of managing just yet.

– They can make a clean break from the past and try someone entirely new. Someone like Brad Ausmus.

Now, this is just my speculation, but Ausmus interviewed for the Astros managerial opening last month, only to remove himself from consideration afterwards. Could it be that the Red Sox let the native New Englander that they were going to have an opening? Ausmus has history with the Astros, but he was raised in Connecticut and he went to school at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. If he’s going to move his family from San Diego, Boston might be the more attractive option.

Ausmus was widely viewed as a future manager while playing. He’s respected by pretty much everybody everywhere. Given that he was primarily a National Leaguer during his 18-year career, it’s possible his preferences might run a little more towards small ball than the Red Sox would like, but I don’t really know that to be the case.

The Red Sox must start over after a year and a month of disastrous baseball. Bringing in a manager who has never been connected with the team might be a good start. If not Ausmus, then perhaps Martinez, the Rays’ bench coach, or Sandberg, whose new job with the Phillies won’t prevent him from auditioning elsewhere. It’s time to chart a new course rather than attempt to recapture the magic of 2007.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.