(Long Island, N.Y.) Taking a very laid-back approach at his introductory press conference, Bobby Valentine seemed humbled by being named the new manager of the Boston Red Sox. Being brash has been his mantra and perhaps over time the former New York Met (player and) manager has become a new man.
Don’t bet on it. Boston isn’t exactly the type of town that can’t take the heat that Valentine will bring and a team that experienced a dreadful September collapse needing a swift kick in the pants. That is why the BoSox hired the man to replace the player-friendly Terry Francona.
With 2,189 major league games under his managerial belt, Valentine certainly brings enough experience to the dugout at Fenway Park and admitted that he had some doubts if he would ever receive another job offer.
“I’m a realist,” Valentine said at his introductory press conference in Boston on Thursday. “I saw the game as it was changing and I saw it obviously getting younger. I saw it getting kind of different.
“And I didn’t know if I could ever fit in.”
Obviously Red Sox principal owner John Henry thought otherwise and commented, “We think he’s the right manager for the right time.”
The Red Sox are a team in transition, but one that is still expected to rebound and contend for both a playoff spot and the American League East division this coming season. Valentine, 61, received a two-year deal and will in all likelihood not be retained when it is completed. This is a win-now team that will probably break it all down if they don’t accomplish at least part of their mission between now and 2013.
In both of Valentine’s previous major league stops as field boss, he took over teams that were in the process of rebuilding. The 1985 Texas Rangers and 1996 Mets were not expected to extend their seasons into mid-October, but he did instill a winning attitude and those teams eventually became more than respectable. In the case of the Mets, Bobby V led them to a postseason berth in 1999 and the National League pennant a year later, places that seem an eternity away in the current state of affairs at Citi Field.
The present Met manager, Terry Collins, has done an admirable job with what he has been given, but the hiring of Valentine would have been a public relations stroke of genius and a spark to the fan base. When the Mets were looking for Jerry Manuel’s replacement after the 2009 campaign, Vanetine’s name came up but he was never a serious candidate for the position.
Collins is not expected to be around for the long term, anyway, so having Valentine here instead could have paid off. When he took over for the fired Dallas Green with 31 games left in the 1996 season, the team was ready to unload their high priced veterans and go with many of the prospects that eventually became stars on the big league club. Eerily reminiscent of what has been happening in Flushing since Manuel was shown the door.
15 years ago, Valentine was still trying to prove himself as a manager. He did a decent job in Texas and his first stint over in Japan, but the Mets job is where he really cut his teeth. Bringing him back during this era would have been a smart move by a team that has made many not-so smart ones since losing to the Yankees in the 2000 World Series.
But Boston is where Valentine is now and that town will be the recipient of what he brings to the table – for better or worse.