ATLANTA - JUNE 4: Manager Bobby Valentine #2 of the New York Mets gives a thumbs up during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia on June 4, 2002. According to reports on June 25, 2010, the Florida Marlins have reached a tentative deal with Bobby Valentine to become the team's next manager. Valentine could start June 28 in a game against his former team, the New York Mets. (Photo By Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
On-air, Bobby Valentine represents Red Sox fans' worst managerial nightmare. Behind the scenes, he's shown flashes of being something bigger and better. Which Valentine are the Red Sox pursuing, and just how terrified should you be?
The Red Sox' search for a manager is getting messier by the day, it seems. Dale Sveum was seemingly a lock, then he left for Chicago be it because ownership said no, or Sveum's own preferences geographically or otherwise. The locked pool was quickly opened up again, Torey Lovullo may or may not be getting a second interview, and there's even a mystery candidate just for kicks.
And then there's Bobby Valentine.
It's a name that makes a good many Red Sox supporters shudder in fear. Since late 2009, Bobby Valentine has basically been engaged in a televised pitch to prospective employers, trying to insert his name into managerial searches by basically trying to out-manage the men in the dugouts when ESPN airs baseball.
The thing is, he hasn't done a very good job of it. From showing a fundamental misunderstanding of statistical analysis to verbally destroying Starlin Castro for the most minor of incidents. Can you imagine Bobby Valentine going off on a Jacoby Ellsbury for looking away when a batter stepped out of the box and accidentally taking an extra second or two off instead of, say, quietly taking him aside? He might as well buy the man's ticket out of Boston.
It doesn't help that for some reason he thinks Starlin Castro's sunflower seed eating ways will somehow make outfielders miss cutoff men.
These aren't Bobby's only incidents. Throughout, he's been the poster boy for old guard thinking, promoting bunting and small ball where, with a team like the Red Sox (and, really, most of the squads in the American League) there's no place for so frivolously giving away free outs. It's not a pretty picture.
But that's just one side of the coin, because when Valentine isn't interviewing in media res, he actually seems to show a deeper knowledge of the game and the advancements that have been made in recent years. When giving interviews online, to people who are actually familiar with the sabermetric world, Valentine sounds like an insider, with knowledge beyond the basics of "oh, there was moneyball and then some people became obsessed with walks."
If there is a hidden Bobby Valentine--one who knows, understands, and can apply the concepts that these statisticians have worked out which help baseball teams win games--then he might be the right man for the job. He could likely get the clubhouse back in line if he didn't inspire full-on revolt, and he's certainly experienced enough.
But when you look back at his managing record in New York and Texas, there are just too many years filled with sacrifices and inefficient base stealing. It certainly doesn't help, either, that his fall from grace with the 2002 Mets was marked with the same sort of inability to curtail certain activities.
A manager's job should be first and foremost to avoid making a negative impact on the game, and for all that he might be able to talk a good game backstage, he has yet to show his ability to manage one from the dugout. Bobby Valentine may not be quite as bad a choice as he appeared on first pass, but so long as the risk of getting the on-air Valentine exists, it's just not a gamble the Red Sox should take.