OLD MAN CHASS ON BOBBY VALENTINE

Murray Chass The Jack Ass-curotsy of pitchershiteighith.com

I received a link today of a post that Murray Chass (the big dumb ass) wrote about Bobby Valentine and how he can’t stand BV and BV couldn’t stand him either. Chass it seems felt it was his duty to call Larry Lucchino the Red Sox CEO, to find out how the Sox managerial search was going. I guess after screaming at his grand kids and staring out the window for hours making sure no one parked their car in front of his house, Chass decided he needed to know if Bobby Valentine was THE GUY the Sox were ready to hire as their field boss.

From reading the post it’s clear Chass has an agenda, in fact since Chass was canned by the NY Times he’s had a hard on for lot of people and he’s in denial that he has gone from being the National baseball writer for the Old Grey Lady to a blogger . Chass will never identify himself as a blogger but that’s all in the denial side of his old ass life. Anyway, Chass has gone and dug up gossip and innuendo from Valentine’s days as Mets manager using the one player that Valentine really had no use for, Todd Hundley to make his case but back to Chass calling Lucchino. The Sox CEO told Chass that Valentine had a great interview and then wanted to know what Chass thought of BV, I’ll let Chass tell you in his own words his feelings on Bobby V:

I would rather not have people I am interviewing ask me questions. In this instance what I thought about Valentine or any other candidate shouldn’t matter. I am not the one hiring and paying the new manager.

On the other hand, Lucchino asked a reasonable question, and the primary problem I had with it was whether I should offer some vague, non-committal comment or answer honestly. Of course, I chose honesty because I expect honest answers from the people I question.

“I have found him to be the most disliked man in baseball,” I said. And I added, “He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him.”

I didn’t offer any details, but if Lucchino wants to know why I made those statements, I will enlighten him here, which is a more appropriate place for a reporter or columnist than the telephone.

One thing we know about Valentine is there is no middle ground when it pertains to how people feel about him. I admit to be being a big fan of his but I can see how his personality could grate on one’s nerves if you had to deal with him on an everyday basis but what I take issue with Chass is his view of Valentine is personal not business.  No place in his column does Chass give Valentine credit for being an outstanding bench manager.  You can hate the guys guts but you lose credibility when he don’t acknowledge that Valentine gets more out of what he’s given than anyone in baseball.   

Chass really embarrasses himself when he critiques Valentine’s managerial record by harping on the fact his teams never had a first place finish:

Valentine undoubtedly talks a good game; that’s why ESPN hired him. But ESPN doesn’t have to worry about a won-lost record. While it’s a fact that Valentine managed the Mets to two consecutive wild-card berths in 1999 and 2000 and the World Series in 2000, it’s also a fact that in 14 years with the Rangers and the Mets he never managed a team that finished in first place.

 

Presumably, the Red Sox, who have not participated in post-season games the last two years, have studied Valentine’s history (and not just tested his knowledge of Jamesian sabermetrics) and know that he ranks third in history among managers who have managed the most games without finishing in first place.

 

Valentine took over a Mets team in 1996 that had stopped to listening to Dallas Green whose method of motivation was to scream at his players “to look in the mirror” and man up. Valentine’s main strength was getting the most out of his 25 man roster but he had to deal with a few clubhouse lawyers who became very comfortable living the high life in the Shea Stadium clubhouse one in particular was Todd Hundley. I’ll get to Hundley in a minute, Chass just kind of glosses over the fact the Valentine won a pennant with the Mets and if not for the shit the bed performance by Kenny Rogers would have had back to back pennants under his belt. Someday Chass should let us know what he thinks of Bobby Cox whose teams finished in first place 14 times but has one World Series flag to fly? What about the greatest manager to ever put a pen to a lineup card Tony LaRussa, winning a World Series with a wild card team?  What Chass doesn’t get is all you have to do is get in the tournament, who cares how you got there? I’m sure there isn’t a Cardinals fan out there complaining how their favorite team got to post season as they are reveling in their successful post season tour.

Back to Todd Hundley, it was no secret back then that Valentine wasn’t a fan of Hundley and Hundley felt the same about BV.  Hundley talks about his relationship with Valentine:

 In Hundley’s view, the problem with Valentine began when the manager appeared to be jealous of the player’s standing with the fans. ”He comes into a whole new situation and goes right after I guess the most popular guy,” Hundley said. ”It’s not my fault I’m the most popular guy.”

Hundley was especially upset at the timing of Valentine’s comments on his sleep habits because his mother was being treated for cancer and his wife was pregnant.

”I’m talking to my mom while she’s going through chemotherapy,” Hundley said, ”and I’m helping my wife with taking care of our two kids and he’s saying I’m out and about.”   

 

It’s true that Valentine gave a”wink-wink, nod-nod” statement about Hundley not getting enough sleep which was Valentine speak for Hundley being a hard partying guy. I have no proof that he was or wasn’t but I’m sure it was the manager sending a message to a player and the player reacted negatively. If it’s true that Hundley wasn’t getting sleep due to worrying about his mom and wife then Valentine was dead wrong to bring that up but what we saw with Hundley was he was not a true team player. When Mike Piazza was brought over from the Marlins it was Hundley who was affected the most and it hurt Hundley to no end that Piazza was coming to the Mets and was the new starting catcher. Hundley felt he was the most popular Met (I think Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson and of course Edgardo Alfonso were right there as popular Mets) but now with a super star like Piazza on the team he had to take a back seat in fact he had to find a whole new place to play, as Hundley was exiled to left field.  That’s when Hundley ceased being a Met. His play on the outfield was one of indifference; you knew his Mets days were over. Was Valentine the reason? Maybe part of it but the mostly it was the acquisition of Piazza that was Hundley’s problem.

Without a doubt Valentine is a very polarizing person, but he has a track record of turning teams around when he occupies the mangers office. I’m not sure that Valentine is the guy to run the Red Sox bench as I feel their problems run a lot deeper in that clubhouse but you know the Red Sox will be prepared and they will be interesting.  Valentine vs. the Boston Media will a show all by itself.

 

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WELL PLAYED MR. ALDERSON

Well hopefully the fan base as calmed a bit now that the new field boss is in place and the GM is telling you for the umpteenth time that the Mets will not be big players in the free agent game but I still think that Alderson & Co. will pull off a major trade this offseason.

I would not be shocked to see Jose Reyes playing elsewhere in 2011, with teams like the Giants, Red Sox, D-Backs (if they trade Stephen Drew) and the Rays looking for shortstop help, I’m sure the GM’s of those teams have Sandy Alderson on speed dial.  While Reyes did not have a great season in 2010, I’m sure the Giants or Red Sox would bet that he’ll bounce back and at one year and $11 mil it might be worth it for them to make an offer. If you could get a starting pitcher and some prospects for Reyes, you have to think about pulling the trigger on a deal.

Adam Rubin has the info on Ollie Perez start last night for Culiacan of the Mexican Winter League. Seems Ollie had a good night with four scoreless innings. His trade value has never been higher!

Can we forget about all this Jeter to the Mets or Jeter to the Red Sox (that would be a dream come true) or Jeter to anyplace else but the Bronx.   Jeter has two choices, sign with the Highlanders or retire. I doubt he’s ready to hang up his limited range as he nears 3,000 hits and it’s clear the message being sent is like a store saying we will beat any competitors  prices, Pee Wee Cashman has laid down the challenge if you can get better than 3yrs/$45 mil take it.  It is shocking though that a player like Jeter, who the Highlander hierarchy have built up over the years like a figure out of Greek mythology, now treat him like an aging beauty queen.

I had a great time last night talking to Doug Gladstone, author of Bitter Cup of Coffee and former Mets outfielder George Theodore , check out the show here at the show page or here at Kranepool Society on the lower right side bar.

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LET THE MANGERIAL BEAUTY PAGENT BEGIN

Now that the Mets have a GM in place and ready to roll, the next step seems to be hiring a manager (although Sandy Alderson seems to want his Cabinet in place first as we hear his wish list of Lieutenants include J.P. Riccardi, Paul DiPodesta and Grady Fuson all outstanding candidates) and from looking around the Mets blogisphere there is great discussion on who that hire should be.

There are Wally Backman supporters as well as Backman detractors. There are folks pushing a Chip Hale regime (which I’m starting to sway over to) and there are Lee Mazzilli fans as well (which I can not fathom) then there is a candidate that we can agree on none of us want (Bob Melvin) and one the majority of us want (Bobby Valentine) but that won’t happen either.

So who do you support as the next field boss of the NY Mets? Alderson said all the right things on Friday about finding a man to fit this job. He acknowledged that a guy like Art Howe is totally wrong for this team and this city. He likes the fiery kick ass type (don’t we all?) but at the same time he has to be on board with the organizational philosophy and be that philosophy’s messenger. The manger must have the savvy to handle the pressure of the day in day out media, which I feel will be a huge issue in the interview process as Alderson saw first hand the amount of media that covers baseball in this town on Friday. With all that, the manager must have the respect and attention of his players and the ability to keep an even personality through goods times and bad and to instill confidence in his team. That to me was Jerry Manuel’s biggest failure as Mets manager. The stars of this team have a low level of self esteem and were too high after wins and too dejected after losses, so the next manger has to be a part-time psychologists as well. It’s not a job for a rank amateur.

John Gibbons saw that and removed his name from consideration. Bobby Valentine would be perfect for the job but there is just too much ego for him to succeed under this regime. I really hope that Alderson doesn’t ruin the honeymoon by even thinking about Bob Melvin, a younger version of Art Howe who would be eaten alive by the MSM, bloggers and this knee jerk fan base. So who does it leave?

I was a gung ho Backman guy but I can see the point to the anti-Backman crowd as to the overload of hero worship that goes toward anyone who played for the 1986 World Champion Mets. I’m as much to blame for that as anyone; it was great time to be a Mets fan. Al of us from that era thought this was beginning of a Mets Dynasty. It never happened. No need for revisionist history here. What makes us fans that are Ga-Ga over the 86ers is the fact that we want to relive the 80’s again especially my shoulder length hair (did I just type that out loud?) when the Mets were Kings and maybe we think a Backman managerial stewardship would do that? There is no job Backman wants more than the Mets managers job and it’s problems from his personal life that have kept him from a big league job but after watching him in Brooklyn last year it will be interesting to see how well he interviews for the job.

As I said I was a strong Backman supporter but lately I’m more and more intrigued by both Ken Oberfell and Chip Hale. Just like Backman these men have paid their dues in baseball. Both men have won at all levels of the game. Both are strong in the fundamentals department and have the respect of their players. Now do they have the ability to deal with the day to day bullshit that comes with the job, well unless Sandy Alderson would like to invite me to join him in the interview process, I don’t know.

Terry Collins is another candidate I’ve heard mentioned but he might be better suited for player development role. Clint Hurdle’s name has come up as well and he would fit the personality part of the job but he seems to be a long shot in my book.

The best part of this whole procedure of hiring a manager is that I have total confidence in the man doing the hiring. I haven’t had this much confidence in a Mets GM since Frank Cashen ran the club and wait didn’t he run the club in 1986?

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