Let me preface this entire piece by assuring you all I don’t ALWAYS disagree with my counter-part Lew Freedman. It just so happens that two of the posts Lew wrote about I had a different opinion on.
Ben Cherington is in deep. Too deep. He was floating in an ocean full of uncertainty and was hoping he’d learn to swim. Instead, the Red Sox organization threw him a life raft.
The signing of Bobby Valentine as the newest Red Sox manager does not feel like a move Cherington, prodigy to Theo Epstein, would have made on his own. Unfortunately for Cherington, he failed to pull the trigger on anyone else. In fact, the signing feels like a last resort, a move made out of panic. Larry Luchino and the higher-ups within the Red Sox organization were worried. The winter meetings are just around the corner and they still did not have a manager. Their list of possibilities had dwindled to Gene Lamont and Bobby Valentine. Whether it be panic, fear, or something else, the move feels forced.
Bobby Valentine was a decent manager during his time with the Rangers and the Mets. By no means was he great. He led the Mets to the World Series in 2000, finished his managerial career (prior to starting it up again with the Red Sox) with a winning record, but never showed the type of ability that separates good managers from great ones.
Valentine made the postseason twice with the Mets including an NL pennant in 2000, but never advanced to the postseason in any other year. He did so with teams who ranked above the league average in payroll (well above the league average in four of those years). Here is the breakdown of payrolls Valentine worked with in his six full years with the Mets:
1997 – $35,866,400*
1998 – $46,583,166
1999 – $60,184,592
2000 – $73,872,276
2001 – $87,711,095
2002 – $85,202,760
Now let’s look at the league average salaries during that time**:
1997 – $40,061,151
1999 – $48,794,290
2000 – $55,377,957
2001 – $66,529,018
2002 – $69,793,139
*The 1997 season is the only season during Bobby Valentine’s time in which the Mets operated with a payroll below league average.
**Salaries were taken from multiple different sources since there isn’t a true composite list of team salaries. However, figures, if off at all, should be very close.
Valentine handled the pressures of New York City just fine. He did just fine with the Mets. He handled his players fine. Bobby Valentine was a fine manager. But is that what the Red Sox want or need?
The Red Sox needed something new. They needed to overcome the drama and stigma left over from the end of the 2011 season. They needed to ignite a new fire within the depths of Boston. Bobby Valentine can’t do that. He’s been in the league. He’s been an analyst. We know him. We know what to expect. The Cardinals, the Cubs, and even the White Sox showed out-of-the-box thinking with their managerial hires. The Red Sox chose a re-tread.
I like Bobby Valentine and I hope I’m wrong, but from where I’m standing, the Red Sox made a mistake in hiring him.
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