Who will replace Bobby Valentine?

Bobby Valentine was fired Thursday by the Boston Red Sox, becoming the second answer to a trivia question:

Naturally, this raises the question: who will be Boston's next manager? The obvious choice would be former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. Unfortunately for Boston, Farrell is under contract for 2013. Presumably, the Blue Jays would let him go -- for proper compensation; that became a contentious subject for the Red Sox when they asked for compensation a year ago to let GM Theo Epstein go to the Cubs.

Ryne Sandberg, the Hall of Fame Cubs second baseman, was interviewed by Theo Epstein two years ago for Boston's Triple-A managing spot. He was promoted from the Phillies' Triple-A managing job just today to be Philadelphia's third-base coach, but presumably the Phils would let him go if he were to get a major-league managing offer.

A year ago, the Red Sox interviewed a number of candidates before they hired Valentine, several of whom would presumably still want the job (even though the Red Sox are markedly worse than they were then): Gene Lamont, Pete Mackanin (who was just fired by the Phillies), Sandy Alomar Jr. (who is in the running for the Indians job), Blue Jays coach Torey Lovullo and Dale Sveum, who was ultimately hired by the Cubs. Tim Bogar, the current Boston bench coach, could also be considered.

And then there's Terry Francona, the proverbial elephant in the room. Would Cherington bring Francona back? Francona's also going to be interviewed in Cleveland. It would be an odd occurrence, bringing Francona back -- but Boston also had its greatest success in decades under him.

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