Bobby V and the Red Sox

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After the misplaced implication and speculation concerning Dale Sveum‘s failure to get a second interview with the Cubs, I’m not going to make any predictions regarding Bobby Valentine‘s chances at being the next manager of the Red Sox.

Sveum didn’t get a second interview with the Cubs…he got the job.

Valentine has spoken to the Red Sox.

Are they performing due diligence before hiring one of the remaining candidates from the early interviews—Sandy Alomar Jr., Gene Lamont, Torey Lovullo?

Are they looking for a name manager to try and straighten out what ailed the clubhouse under Terry Francona?

Is there already a fissure between ownership and new GM Ben Cherington?

Who knows?

Such random and half-informed handicapping is generally fruitless and is based on the last thing read or heard.

But a Valentine hiring would not signal an about-face in the way the Red Sox do business. The situations between the firing of Grady Little, the hiring of Francona and possibly a Valentine tenure are entirely different.

Francona was hired because he wasn’t Little; was willing to take short money for the job; was agreeable to Curt Schilling; and would follow strategic edicts formulated with the stat people in the front office.

Basically, he’d do what he was told, was likable to the media and salable to the players.

Valentine would not be walking into the same circumstances that Francona was. There are contracts that the Red Sox can’t move like Carl Crawford; envelope-pushers Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis; and decisions to be made on a still-productive veteran David Ortiz.

If the Red Sox are keeping the same core of the club together without drastic changes to the construction and culture of the clubhouse apart from getting rid of Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, then perhaps Valentine would be a preferable choice to a rookie manager Alomar or Lovullo or a veteran retread Gene Lamont.

The players would automatically know that Valentine is in charge and he wouldn’t tolerate the nonsense that went on as they undermined Francona.

I’m not a fan of this supposed “quiz of game situations” that’s come en vogue in an interview process. Sitting in an interview and giving the answers that the GM wants to hear is not managing nor is it an indicator of what’s more important than giving the right answers: having the nerve to implement.

A manager has to be able to shield himself from the fear of criticism. Is he making a certain move because he’s afraid to be ripped in the media? Or is he doing it because he thinks it’s the right thing? Casual baseball conversation is a better window into what a prospective candidate really believes; his tone will provide a gauge to his passion and fearlessness.

Valentine is a rare individual who does care how he’s perceived, but will still do what he thinks is right independent of what people are going to say about it. He’s well-versed in stats and was one of the first Bill James advocates in baseball—if he were just beginning his managerial career, he’d be viewed as a great choice; but because he’s the loud, polarizing and explosive “Bobby V”, that the Red Sox are even talking to him is big news.

It’ll be bigger news if they hire him.

But that would be a good thing.


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