Posted on: November 29, 2011 10:51 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 10:51 pm
During the past decade, Bobby Valentine has almost managed twice as many big-league clubs as he's actually managed.
He was ticketed to manage the Florida Marlins two summers ago until that blew up.
Now he's on-deck to manage the Boston Red Sox.
Every indication Tuesday night was that Valentine will be calling the shots from the dugout when the Red Sox open their 2012 season in Detroit on April 5. But hey, when you're romancing Bobby V, as Yogi B. would say, it's never over 'til it's over.
And given the downright shameful way the Red Sox let runner-up Gene Lamont twist into Tuesday night without even the courtesy of a phone call as Valentine speculation became deafening, there were still a few loose ends to tie up before what is expected to be a Thursday press conference to introduce the new manager.
Valentine is charismatic, energetic, whip-smart, passionate, arrogant, enthusiastic, old-school, new-school, inquisitive, condescending, confrontational, sharp-tongued and hard-edged in one blinding, kaleidoscope of a package.
How that mixes with the New York Yankees will be riveting. How that mixes with the rest of the American League -- especially with Baltimore manager Buck Showalter -- will be highly entertaining.
How that plays within the Red Sox's own organization eventually will be the stuff of pure drama. There is no way the egos of Valentine and club president Larry Lucchino won't eventually clash and spark like positive and negative electrical currents. There is no way Valentine won't steamroll young rookie general manager Ben Cherington -- or, at least, try.
Fenway Park isn't nearly big enough to contain Valentine's out-sized ego. It isn't small enough to limit the possibilities of what this man and this team, together, could accomplish.
The process that led the Red Sox to this day was nearly as tortured as their fall-off-the-cliff September. Valentine's personality profile is not even in the same country as the group of candidates the Red Sox paraded through for a first round of interviews.
Three candidates from that first group had zilch for managerial experience: Sandy Alomar Jr., Torey Lovullo and Dale Sveum (OK, so he had 16 games' worth of of interim managerial experience in 2008). One more had just two interim managerial stints under his belt (Pete Mackanin). The fifth, Lamont, actually had experience in managing the White Sox (AL manager of the year in 1993) and the Pirates.
All of those guys are quiet. Thoughtful. Each of them fell under the category described by Cherington when he said of Sveum, "He's somebody we know we can work with."
Then, Sveum picked the Cubs and the Red Sox took a hard right.
No matter how they spin it, clearly, ownership took the managerial search steering wheel away from Cherington.
The only guarantee from here is that the ride will be an adventure neither side will ever forget.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 6:28 pm
News that the Red Sox are talking with Bobby Valentine appears to mean one of two things for the flailing Bostons, who now are the only major-league team without a manager:
1. There is a total lack of direction and the Red Sox don't even know what they want anymore.
2. Ownership has seized the steering wheel from rookie general manager Ben Cherington and now is controlling the process.
Either scenario is not good, a far cry from the well-oiled machine that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.
The first scenario is evidenced by the dramatic contrast between Valentine and the initial group of candidates they interviewed: Dale Sveum, who was named Cubs manager Friday, Sandy Alomar Jr., Gene Lamont, Pete Mackanin and Torey Lovullo. Of that group, only Lamont has prior major-league managerial experience (Mackanin was the Pirates' interim manager in 2005 and the Reds' interim pilot in 2007). All of those guys veer toward the quiet and unassuming and, to an extent, could be controlled by management. Valentine is brash, has years of experience and is his own man.
The second scenario is evidenced by the fact that Sveum veered in the Cubs' direction in short order following a lunch with Red Sox ownership on Wednesday. He was the only candidate brought back for a second interview. Clearly things did not click between Sveum and Boston's ownership. What we don't know is whether Sveum told Boston the Cubs were his first choice or whether Red Sox ownership pulled the plug on him.
Either way, it speaks volumes.
Obviously, Cherington did not think experience was a necessity when this process started. Valentine was on the shelf, available, when Terry Francona was let go. If the Red Sox were that interested in Valentine, they could have had him in place weeks ago. Why waste time first-dating all those first-timers?
Unless ... they arrived at Valentine once ownership lost confidence in Cherington.
Now there are more questions than answers:
-- Has aggressive president Larry Lucchino been turned loose by co-owners John Henry and Tom Werner to do his thing after being kept away from baseball operations during Theo Epstein's last few years in Boston?
-- By hiring Sveum, did Theo and Co. sting the Red Sox enough that Lucchino and Co. looking to one-up the Cubs with a splashy hire?
-- With his outsized personality, how much fun would Valentine be managing the Red Sox mixing with the outsized egos of ownership, the outsized coverage of the local media and the outsized noise from the New England fans?
-- How does Cherington regain his balance after his legs were cut out from under him this week and command authority going forward? Is it even possible?
At this rate, the Red Sox may take until Valentine's Day to have a manager in place. Or maybe (Bobby) Valentine's Day will come early to Boston.
Posted on: October 25, 2009 4:09 pm
Either Cleveland knows something Washington didn't.
Or the Nationals were more of a bottomless pit than even they knew.
There isn't much middle ground, is there? Battling two seriously disappointing seasons in the past three years, a restless fan base and declining attendance, the Indians have hired a man with a .385 career winning percentage as a manager. Acta went 158-252 in just under three seasons as manager of the Nationals.
Acta always has been a respected baseball man, and many within the industry know that the Nationals' problems went far beyond the manager's chair the past couple of seasons.
Yet, the Nats showed enough improvement under interim manager Jim Riggleman after they fired Acta that they continue to view Riggleman as a legitimate candidate for their full-time manager's job.
Under Riggleman in 2009, the Nats played .440 ball, going 33-42.
Under Acta in '09, the Nats played .229 ball, going 26-61.
Clearly, Acta, despite the Nationals' belly flop, immediately is a man in demand on the managerial circuit this winter.
The Indians signed him to a three-year deal after also interviewing Bobby Valentine and minor-league skipper Torey Lovullo last week. They had intended to interview Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly later this week.
So which is it?
Acta, 40, under-managed an already hopelessly over-matched team?
Or Acta has enough managerial chops to overcome even the Nationals' taint?
The Indians have committed themselves to finding out.
And one way or the other, I have a feeling, in the end, there won't be much middle ground here, either.
One other note on Acta: Even with a .385 career winning percentage, he's still the most winning major-league manager the Indians have hired since John McNamara in 1990.
That's because, as the legendary Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out, since the Indians fired Alvin Dark in 1970, they've hired a manager with major-league experience only three other times: Dave Garcia (1979-1983), Pat Corrales (1983-1987) and McNamara (1990-1991).
Since McNamara, the Indians had hired three consecutive managers with no major-league managing experience in Mike Hargrove (1992), Charlie Manuel (2000) and Eric Wedge (2003).