Updated at 4:02 p.m.; originally filed at 9:31 a.m.
Bobby Valentine and the Boston Red Sox reportedly have agreed to terms on a deal that will make him the team’s next manager, according to the Associated Press.
It seemed as if the hiring was a given, Valentine’s eager comments after he interviewed with Red Sox brass Nov. 21.
“If I was Plan B and I got this job, I would feel like it was Christmas and I was Plan A, the luckiest guy in the world,’’ he said after interviewing. “It would be cool.’’
Hiring Valentine, 61, is not without its risks and is definitely not for the faint of heart. He is a stark contrast to his predecessor, Terry Francona, which may not be a bad thing after the beer-and-fried-chicken-in-the-clubhouse headlines that emerged about the Red Sox clubhouse after the team’s epic September collapse.
The intense and volatile Valentine hasn’t managed in the U.S. since 2002 and has never won a division title (two wild cards and one National League pennant) in 12 full seasons with the Texas Rangers and the Mets in New York, where he was the go-to guy for back-page tabloid fodder. He managed in Japan for six years, leading the Chiba Lotte Marines to their first Japan Series title in 31 years and to a victory in the Asia Series.
During his time in New York, Valentine and Steve Phillips, the general manager, were frequently at odds, to put it mildly. In 1999, Phillips fired three coaches without talking to Valentine and once ordered him to stay away from baseball’s winter meetings. Now, though, Phillips endorses Valentine for the Sox job.
“You’ve got an experienced manager who has opinions, who is a new-age thinker. Bobby, he’s not an old-school guy,” Phillips told the Boston Herald. “He thinks outside of the box — a lot. Stats mean something to him. Numbers mean something to him. He actually suits the philosophy of the Red Sox very, very well. Based upon how I would evaluate the Red Sox, I think Bobby would be an excellent fit for them.”
Valentine promised peaceful co-existence and outright co-operation with General Manager Ben Cherington. “I would expect it,’’ he said. “This is a growth opportunity for me.’’
After the departure of Francona and General Manager Theo Epstein, the Red Sox narrowed their choices for manager to six and almost seven over a two-month search. One of those candidates, Dale Sveum, took the managing job offered by Epstein, now with the Chicago Cubs. The choice reportedly came down to third-base coach Gene Lamont and Valentine with Valentine, according to the Boston Globe, getting the backing of Sox President Larry Lucchino. If the choice was Lucchino’s and not Cherington’s, imagine the problems that could present down the road. But let’s not make like Flounder and say, “this is gonna be great” just yet. Maybe it will all work out. Valentine is returning from Japan and is expected to be introduced at a Fenway Park press conference as early as Thursday.
“This is a great organization with a great team and a great city and ballpark,’’ Valentine said Nov. 21. “That is very attractive. I don’t think that anywhere else where there’s been a job opening that my name has been mentioned there have been as many fabulous factors.’’