WHEN TERRY FRANACONA left the Boston Red Sox, he said they needed “a new voice” in the manager’s office.
They’ve certainly chosen a brash one.
Two months after a record collapse kept them out of the playoffs, the Red Sox picked Bobby Valentine to be their next manager.
The sides were working to complete a contract, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press last night.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. Several media outlets in Boston, citing anonymous sources, reported earlier in the evening that Valentine would be the team’s new manager.
An announcement could come by tomorrow.
“He’s got it. I just spoke to him a little while ago,” Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda, who managed Valentine in the minors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, said in a telephone interview with the AP.
Blunt, cocky and sometimes controversial, Valentine is quite a departure from Francona, a player’s manager who rarely went public with criticism of players or internal team problems.
As manager of the New York Mets from 1996-2002, Valentine clashed with general manager Steve Phillips. In April 2000, he criticised the team’s front office and some players, including Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson, while speaking to students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
And famously, after being ejected from a game in 1999, he returned to the dugout wearing a fake mustache and sunglasses. Major League Baseball fined him $5,000 and suspended him for three games.
More recently, the 61-year-old Valentine has been working as an analyst for ESPN, where he has commented on several Red Sox players, saying pitcher Josh Beckett should work faster and left fielder Carl Crawford should close his stance.
Valentine’s style can be abrasive, sure, but few question his baseball acumen. He guided the Mets to consecutive playoff appearances, culminating in a trip to the 2000 World Series, where they lost to the New York Yankees. He went to Japan and managed the Chiba Lotte Marines to a championship in 2005.
“He’s matured, and I think managing in Japan helped him a great deal,” Lasorda said. “Becoming the manager of the Red Sox, that’s a privilege and an honor, and I’m sure he’s going to do a great job.”