After nearly a two month wait, the Boston Red Sox have their man. After cutting ties with longtime skipper Terry Francona following a historical collapse that saw them miss the playoffs, the Red Sox have decided to hire former major league manager and current ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine to be their next manager.
Valentine, 61, managed the Texas Rangers from 1985-1992 and the New York Mets from 1996-2002 and also had two stints in Japan as a manager. During his time as a major league manager, Valentine posted a career record of 1,117-1,072 which included a World Series appearance in 2000 with the Mets. Valentine most notably won a Japanese baseball championship in 2005 as manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Valentine's name surfaced as a possible candidate for the job after Red Sox ownership let the GM Ben Cherington's choice and perennial front runner Dale Sveum leave Boston without an offer and dart for Chicago where he was hired as the newest manager of the Cubs by team president Theo Epstein.
The decision reportedly came down between Valentine, ownership's choice, and Detroit Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont, Cherington's endorsement. In the end, however, ownership got its way and will hire Valentine as the team's 45th manager.
Valentine's hire comes to the dismay of some Red Sox fans because of several different factors. First off, his managerial record tells us that he does have a lot of managing experience, however his record also tells us that he lost a lot of games in the process. 1,072 to be exact.
In his first year in Texas, Valentine started off on a pretty bad note by managing the Rangers to a 53-76 record in his first year as a manager. The following year, Valentine was able to guide the Rangers to an 87-75 record, the club's best record in several years. Not to mention, Valentine guided a notoriously bad Texas team to three consecutive winning seasons from 1989-1991.
Same story with the Mets. Valentine inherited a very bad New York team with a recent history of winning. Starting in 1997, his first full season with the Mets, Valentine guided the club to five consecutive winning seasons, including two 90-win seasons in 1999 and 2000. For the exception of 2001, Valentine showed progression and improvement each and every year since taking the reins.
Out of his 15 years of experience, Valentine managed to turn in only three losing seasons. If Red Sox fans are worried about his prior managerial record, take a look at their past manager's resume before coming to Boston. Terry Francona himself never had a winning season with the Philadelphia Phillies in the four seasons he spent there. A combined record of 285-363 to be exact. Last time I checked, he panned out pretty well.
Francona went on to do wonders in Boston, never recording a single losing season and guiding the club to two World Series titles. One can argue that Valentine was never quite the manager that Francona was. That statement may or may not be true, but there isn't enough evidence to prove that.
Give Bobby Valentine the talent that he will now be inheriting that Francona has had and see if he wouldn't turn in similar results. Bobby V didn't have All-Star players like Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Jon Lester, and Jonathan Papelbon on his teams. He didn't have the payroll that Francona had to play with in Boston. The only notable players Valentine had on his teams are Mike Piazza, a washed up Robin Ventura, aging stars like Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn and a fairly decent pitching staff that consisted of Al Leiter and Greg Reed.
With resources at hand, Valentine will certainly have the players around him with the capability of winning multiple World Championships. With the hiring of Valentine, the Red Sox will be giving him keys to the Cadillac, not a Volkswagen.
Another reason some Red Sox fans continue to raise cain about Valentine is because of his image as a manager. Look, I completely agree with the general perception that Bobby Valentine and Terry Francona are complete polar opposites. Francona, a relaxed and soft-spoken manage,r and Valentine, an intense outspoken manager, didn't exactly fall from the same tree.
While I am one of Francona's biggest advocates, he flat out lost control of the Red Sox clubhouse. Whether it was Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey eating fried chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during September or the simple lack of production on the field during that month, Francona's methods were simply ineffective with this bunch.
Valentine has been regarded as the Bill Parcells of Baseball, a true competitor, a no-nonsense and power seeking manager. If Valentine were given the opportunity to manage the Red Sox during the month of September, he most certainly would have put his foot down and put a stop to the Chicken N' Beer policy the Red Sox had and would have had each and every player on that team focused and poised to keep their grasp on a playoff spot.
This particular group of players, as talented as they are, did not listen to Francona. Most baseball people would agree that, no matter how unfocused or reckless, they would listen to and respect Bobby Valentine.
Finally, Valentine would most certainly bring the Red Sox something Francona didn't process, deep ties to foreign player markets such as the Dominican Republic and Japan. Having spent a few years as a manager in Japan, Bobby V could possibly mend the Red Sox's relationship with players like Daisuke Matsuzaka and open up more doors for players such as Yu Darvish to join the team.
Valentine is viewed as a almost a national hero and icon in these foreign markets. With the connections and reputation he has overseas, there's no telling who the Red Sox could bring in. Also, back to Matsuzaka, Valentine could certainly be able to communicate to him in better ways than the Red Sox have in the past and could form a very special relationship with additional trust.
In the end, it's clear that Valentine is the right choice to become the next Red Sox manager because of his success as a manager of teams where none thought success was possible and the fact that his managing style is exactly what this team needs. He's a manager that will demand a lot out of his players and will keep them focused for all 162 games of the season. He's a disciplinarian and simply won't stand for some of the Red Sox nonsense exhibited last season.
But most importantly, they needed a manager that would make sure that September of 2011 would never repeat itself, and Bobby Valentine is just the guy to make sure that it won't.