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Tag:Bobby Valentine
Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:11 pm
 

Valentine falls into bed of Red Sox roses

For all the talk about how Bobby Valentine can change the Red Sox, let's remember that he's taking over a team that spent 4 1/2 months as the best team in baseball.

"He fell into a bed of roses," another big-league manager said Wednesday, the day the Red Sox made it official that Valentine will take over as their new manager.

Valentine will try to avoid the thorns. The Red Sox front office gets to spend the next couple of months finding a few more roses.

It can't be any harder (or as time-consuming) as finding a new manager, right?

Besides, the Sox got a good long look at what needs to be done, in the form of September's painful collapse.

The problem is that we're now two months into Boston's offseason, and rather than get a start on fixing what's wrong on the roster, the Red Sox added to their issues by losing free-agent closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies.

Somewhere, the Red Sox will find a new closer. One rival official predicted Wednesday that the Sox will be the team that ends up trading for Andrew Bailey, the very-available A's right-hander.

But where will the Sox find two or more new starting pitchers?

If there was one biggest key to sinking the Sox in September -- yes, bigger than clubhouse beer and fried chicken -- it was the failure to find or develop enough rotation depth. Aces Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were subpar in the final month, and Clay Buchholz was hurt, but the Sox were forced to use the overmatched Kyle Weiland or the over-age Tim Wakefield to start far too many games.

The Red Sox also need another outfielder. No, they need a right-handed hitting outfielder.

Boston's collapse was mostly pitching-driven, but Kevin Youkilis' injury also left the Red Sox lineup far too weak against left-handed pitching. The Red Sox tried to add a right-handed hitter at the July 31 deadline last summer, but couldn't get it done (just as they couldn't add enough pitching depth).

More roster depth all-around wouldn't hurt. One scout who saw the Red Sox in September said Wednesday that he was surprised by how much the team seemed to be affected, offensively and defensively, by the Youkilis injury.

The problems are obvious. The solutions are out there, and maybe front-office power-broker Larry Lucchino and general manager Ben Cherington won't have as hard a time agreeing on the answers as they did on a manager.

Just remember that the Red Sox are fixing a team that is already one of baseball's very best, despite what you saw in September (and despite the chaos you've seen since then).

"They're loaded," the rival manager said.

Yes, they are.
Posted on: November 17, 2011 3:25 pm
Edited on: November 17, 2011 3:44 pm
 

Cubs have a manager, Red Sox have more turmoil

MILWAUKEE -- Remember that idea that the Cubs and Red Sox were on parallel tracks in their manager searches?

This is where the tracks divide.

The Cubs made their pick of Dale Sveum official on Thursday, announcing that they'll introduce him at a Friday morning press conference at Wrigley Field.

The Red Sox made it official that their eight weeks of turmoil will lead to a ninth, and likely to a 10th and 11th, as well.

"We're going to take a breather [from the managerial search] this weekend," general manager Ben Cherington said as he left the Pfister Hotel early Thursday afternoon.

Cherington is fighting the perception that he and the Red Sox baseball people are being overruled by ownership on the manager search, a perception that was only fed by later reports Thursday that the owners were talking to Bobby Valentine about the job. The Red Sox are fighting the perception that the September collapse and the departures of Theo Epstein and Terry Francona have left them as one of baseball's biggest messes.

Thursday morning, Peter Gammons reported that Red Sox ownership wants managerial "experience." This after the team's baseball leadership went through an initial round of interviews in which only one of the five candidates (Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont) had managed a full season in the big leagues.

Not only that, but Cherington and his aides picked Sveum as the one candidate to bring in for a second interview, and to meet the owners. Sveum's managerial experience consists of 12 regular-season games and four playoff games with the 2008 Brewers.

Sveum had lunch with the Red Sox on Wednesday, but by the end of the day he was no longer a candidate in Boston, and had the Cubs offer that he officially accepted Thursday.

So where do the Red Sox go from here?

Cherington and some of his aides are headed to the Dominican Republic, where they are expected to watch soon-to-be free agent Yoennis Cespedes.

When they return, Cherington said that the Red Sox may expand their search. As of now, Lamont, Torey Lovullo and Sandy Alomar Jr. remain in contention, with Pete Mackanin already told that he is no longer a candidate.

"There could be at least one more," Cherington said.

You have to wonder if Ryne Sandberg, who was said to have interviewed well in St. Louis before the Cardinals hired Mike Matheny, will now get a chance.

And as for that "experience" thing?

"It's a factor, but not the overriding factor," Cherington said.

Eventually, they'll hire a manager. And maybe it won't be a disaster.

Remember, it took until Dec. 4 before the Red Sox hired Francona in 2003.

That worked out well.

Will this?



Posted on: June 19, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Marlins job is the best . . . or the worst

In Josh Johnson, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison, the Marlins have some of the best young players in baseball. They have a new stadium set to open next year.

They have a talented and creative front office.

Who wouldn't want to manage this team?

In Jeffrey Loria, the Marlins have an eccentric owner who is always convinced his team should be in the playoffs, but rarely convinced that he should pay for it. In David Samson, they have a club president who, to be blunt, is one of the least-liked people in the game. They have a new ballpark coming, yes, but many people who know the South Florida market are convinced it's in the wrong location and will never solve their attendance problems. And they're in the National League East, quickly becoming one of the best -- and maybe one of the biggest-spending -- divisions in baseball.

Who would want to manage this team?

There are times I think the Marlins job is a great one, so great that I could believe Bobby Valentine would want it, so great that I could believe Ozzie Guillen would leave his "second father," White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, for it.

"The next year or two, they will really be heard from," one baseball person familiar with the Marlins said on Sunday, after Edwin Rodriguez resigned as the team's latest manager. "Those young kids just need to be toughened up."

Those young kids are incredibly talented. Johnson, currently on the disabled list, is mentioned every year as a possible Cy Young winner. Scouts can't stop talking about Stanton, who has as much raw power as any player in baseball. And while Ramirez is in the midst of a hugely disappointing season, he's a 27-year-old three-time All-Star who has already won a batting title.

A month ago, when the Marlins were one game out of first place in the NL East, it was easy to believe that they would stay in the race all year. People were asking how Loria would deal with Rodriguez having all this success, when everyone knew the owner really wanted Ozzie Guillen as his manager.

Then came the collapse, which also tells you something about these Marlins players. One Marlins person complained that players spent too much time "pouting" after Loria ordered hitting coach John Mallee fired last week.

Maybe they do need to be toughened up. Maybe the right manager will turn this team into the playoff contender that Loria has always claimed they should be.

But remember the obstacles. Loria is a George Steinbrenner, but without the big spending. The NL East features the great Phillies and the outstanding (and young) Braves, along with the Nationals (Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann and a willingness to spend big) and the Mets (big problems now, but with the New York market to draw on, big potential ahead).

This is either the best job in baseball, or the worst. I'll let you know when I figure out which one it is.


Posted on: June 23, 2010 5:34 pm
 

In the end, maybe this is best for all

So maybe this works out best for everyone.

Best for the Braves, who have always had their eye on Fredi Gonzalez as a possible replacement when Bobby Cox retires. Best for Gonzalez, who was never going to completely please owner Jeffrey Loria unless he won the World Series (and perhaps not even then), and now will be free to go somewhere he gets the respect he deserves.

Best for Loria, who in an interview earlier this year described Bobby Valentine as "someone I've known for 25 years," spoke lovingly about his players, and had almost nothing at all to say about Gonzalez.

Already today, just after the Marlins fired Gonzalez as manager, Valentine told his current employer, ESPN, that he now has no interest in the Orioles job, and prefers to "direct my energy in another direction."

That's understandable. The Marlins aren't nearly as good as Loria thinks they are, but they're far, far better than the Orioles. And while the National League East is better than people think it is, it's far, far less challenging than the American League East.

The Marlins job suits Valentine, and perhaps he suits the Marlins, too, as someone who will have expectations every bit as high as Loria's.

The Braves job suits Gonzalez, too. It won't be easy to replace Cox, who has remained hugely popular with his players. But who better to do it than someone who worked as a coach under Cox, operates as much as possible the way Cox does, and would come in with a ringing endorsement from Cox.

There are some in baseball who wonder if the Cox connection would actually hurt Gonzalez's chances with a front office that has battled with Cox in recent times. But people close to general manager Frank Wren suggested that Wren would be happy to hire Gonzalez.

The Braves have long said that they don't want to talk about a Cox successor, because they don't want to do anything to take away from the celebration of Cox's final season. But they don't need to talk about it right now.

The Marlins, who named Edwin Rodriguez as interim manager, should want to move fast on a permanent replacement. Unlike the Orioles, whose season is already lost, the Marlins remain within striking distance in the NL East.

Is Valentine the guy who can pull them back into the race, maybe do what Jack McKeon did when he took over the Marlins in midseason 2003? Perhaps, but despite what Loria thinks, right now the Marlins look no better than the third- (or maybe fourth-) best team in the division.

Valentine has a history of success, particularly early in his stay.

Maybe he takes this job, and it works out best for him, and for the Marlins. And maybe Gonzalez really does take over for Cox after this season, and it works out best for him and for the Braves, too.


 
 
 
 
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