Chalk This Up To “Saw That One Coming”

Bobby Valentine is said to be a solid strategist in the dugout, which could be a refreshing change from the asleep-at-the-wheel Terry Francona, who by most accounts had lost control of that clubhouse.

(Not a knock on Tito, he is one fine damn manager…it just happens now & then, even to the best of them).

And he is a winning manager.

So what’s not to like, right?

Wrong.

Simply put, Valentine reportedly has as much of an ego-driven personality as anyone you have ever met  and is much more interested in himself than the team he’s managing.

Instead of “Bobby-V,” he should be known as “Bobby-Me!”

But how can a manager be successful on the field if he doesn’t care about winning?

Oh, but I never said that the man doesn’t want to win. He does, if for no other reason other than to highlight his “legend in his own mind” status.

This isn’t to say we should discount what he has accomplished on the diamond and in the dugout.

After all, he is the only foreigner to win the Shoriki Award for contributions made to Japanese baseball. And they do love him there. Hell, a free section of the team’s stadium has been christened the “Bobby Seats,” and a street near the stadium is named “Valentine Way.”

But they were far more impressed by (and enamored with) his larger-than-life persona, as a refreshing change to the normally stoic, serious-minded Japanese culture.

Despite this obvious love, he was not asked back.

Then he had a shot to land a gig managing the Florida Miami Marlins  about eighteen months ago and one had to think he was a front runner on that one.

I mean, Valentine has had a long-running friendship with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and seemed to have the job nailed down.

Still, when he didn’t get the job, instead of taking the high road, he blasted his friend on national TV.

“If this is a major-league process, I hope I’m never in the process again,” Valentine said on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. “It’s very disturbing, confusing and it was insulting at times, but it’s over.’

The Marlins reportedly balked at his demands for control over personnel decisions and decided to go in another direction…one that included another stint by the ultra cool but also ancient Jack McKeon.

Now comes this, courtesy of @ Hardball Talk:

When Bobby Valentine was originally hired as manager of the Red Sox, it was suggested that ownership went over the head of newly-hired general manager Ben Cherington to make the call. This led to all sorts of speculation that Cherington was already marginalized and that he would have a difficult time building the ballclub that he wants to build.

That’s an extreme view, of course, but this piece by Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globesuggests that a power struggle could already be emerging in regard to key roster decisions.

“A wedge appears to be forming between new manager Bobby Valentine and new general manager Ben Cherington on the best way to employ Daniel Bard, starter or reliever, and the best place to employ shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias, Fenway Park or Pawtucket.

Valentine reportedly told scouts from outside the Sox organization he wants Iglesias, not utilityman Mike Aviles, as his starting shortstop. The Sox manager believes Iglesias is ready to play in the majors, which runs counter to the organization’s belief that Iglesias, who is batting .200 this spring with one extra-base hit, is greener than Fenway’s fabled Wall with the bat.

Valentine has been lukewarm, bordering on openly cynical about Bard’s conversion from setup man to starter, a centerpiece of Cherington’s team-building blueprint, and a report, citing an anonymous Sox staffer, said Bard would be returning to the bullpen when the games begin for real.”

Reasonable baseball people disagree on things like this all the time, so we could probably find similar situations with all 30 teams right now. You know, one manager wants the top prospect to make the team while the GM would prefer to delay his service time and pick the non-roster invitee with the out-clause in his contract or the player who is out of options. This is everyday baseball stuff.

The potentially troubling part is that Valentine might feel that he doesn’t have to agree with Cherington if John Henry and Larry Lucchino have his back.

It’s still way too early to make any judgments about whether this will be a successful marriage, but it will be very interesting to see how these particular situations play out.

This could all be much ado about nothing.

But considering the man at the center of it all, it most likely isn’t. The Red Sox would do well to get their house in order before the season gets underway or the drama in 2012 can make the sausage of FAIL from last year feel a pleasant memory of days gone by.

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2 comments

  1. Sean Breslin

    The Red Sox will never win a World Series with Bobby V managing the team. Sorry, but he proved in New York he can’t get it done.

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