I think Epstein likes to gauge how a manager interacts with the press. Francona was terrific at it. I think one of the things that he liked about Francona was that he could deflect attention from some of the internal conflict and complaints without becoming a story by himself.
Mackinin isn't a surprise. He was the first interview the Red Sox had for the current opening, so he was likely to be on theo's radar. Mackinin has ties to all 3 versions of the Nats, having been with the Twins, Rangers, and Expos. If he leaves the side of Sling Blade, it opens up the bench coach slot with the Philth. That may be Sandberg's next landing spot if he does not get a manager's job now.