Bobby Valentine. Really? That’s the best the Red Sox could come up with? What is it with pulling managers form the recognizable masses that compose analysts? We can’t get anyone that is hungry in the lower levels up to manage a flagship franchise like the Sox. It has to be a name we’ve all heard before, one connected to self indulgent opinions and seasons underachieving no less?
Take a look one level lower, Sox Brass, and you’ll see an excellent and capable manager that is just as hungry to prove himself in the big leagues as Valentine is as hungry to show that he hasn’t completely blown it as a big league manager.
What’s more, if you pick someone from inside the system, you have the comfortability factor already in place. Young players know Arnie Baylor, they trust this man, and to win a championship in the AL East you need players to come up and make an impact around the blue chips you’ve already got there—especially with the Sox proprensity for injury. Trust, history, and comfort play a factor in that.
But lets talk about uncomfortable for a second. Valentine has just come from the broadcast booth, so yeah, he’s probably said some stuff that pisses Red Sox players off. It’s his job as an analyst to stir up fans about the drama they’re seeing on the field, and be critical of mistakes.
Do that math: If you had the kind of epic meltdown that the Sox had last season, one everyone in the known universe had made a joke about, it’s pretty safe to say that Valentine has said something critical of the boys who made it happen. Sure, they’re big boys and they’ll have to get over it, but saying something like Buster Olney did, who I usually think is spot on about baseball analysis, just adds to the mess.
In his latest piece about that Valentine for skipper scholarship program, Olney speaks to the issue of players not being comfortable with their new management because of his critical broadcast pedigree, saying that, essentially, they need to get over it and check their opinions because…
“The Boston players had complete control of the clubhouse in 2011, and we know what happened.
Well, the players should forget about that history, about their preconceived notions of Valentine, and focus on this: Bobby Valentine really cares about baseball; he really wants to win. He will be into every pitch of every inning of every game of every week of every month of the season. He will see everything.
Spoken like a fellow analyst… Two things, Buster:
First, the team may or may not have had complete control in 2011. Failure of that magnitude is a funny thing with multiple variables to consider. They melted down, sure, but that in no way makes their input on who their new skipper should be a moot point. Why? Because these guys are around baseball as much as their managers are. In some clubhouses, the franchise players have more pull and effect on the team then the manager does. A rift between the two can kill team chemistry.They have to get a long, and the manager is not the biggest piece in that equation. If he was, he would be compensated at a rate comparable to his star talent.
Besides, a manager facilitates success, it is his players make it happen. A manager can’t come in and shake things like a dictator because if he really is a baseball man, he knows that he can’t make his players do anything, he can only facilitate the chance for them to win. Trust is a major factor in that, and I don’t think there will be much trust in a manager that could blow it, then return to the booth to talk about who screwed up his last shot at managing.
Furthermore, a team that does not like the management will not play to the max ability. And, since they get paid, win or lose, sums much higher then their manager counterparts, the manager will become the scapegoat (like he was this year) if things go south. The manager will get canned because it’s a lot easier to fire one man then scrap an entire team. Most of the plans to overhaul any system around the manager are all smoke and mirrors because in the end, it’s pure economics.
Second, what manager would come into a big league skipper situation and not be into every aspect of the game? I mean, really? You think a guy is going to show up in one of the biggest sports venues in the game and just sit on his ass and not pay attention? He better damn sure see everything, it’s his job— it’s the job of whoever the Red Sox select. And if he doesn’t see everything, then he’ll get canned by the people who hired him, not the players. If he facilitates every chance for success to his players, but they don’t take them, he’ll still get canned. If he protects the players and takes the fire from the Brass and Media, he STILL get’s canned. The life of a manager is a crapshoot, so for god’s sake Sox Brass, at least pick one that has the best chances of coming out on the cleanest side of it for this scenario!
I actually think the selecting Bobby V to head this operation is like the Sox Brass is saying they don’t care if they win or not this coming year because they’ve got the perfect fall guy in place. It’s part of the scholarship package, it has to be. Looking back, the Sox shouldn’t have let go of Francona—he was a good skipper despite his 2011 fate. The Sox Brass should have simply conceded that the season was a bust, let their emotions settle despite their losses, and moved forward positively.
Instead, you’ve got a perennial underachiever in place that will most likely be an executive’s manager, not a players manager, even if he wants to be, because there is noway Valentine is going to get this opportunity without strings attached—even if they’re hidden.