BOSTON (CBS) – Been an interesting time around the Boston Red Sox. The introductory press conference for Bobby Valentine reminded me of the Daisuke Matsuzaka presser. Lots of fanfare and hype.
I have two quick thoughts on the Valentine hiring and then we’ll look ahead to the Winter Meetings and the remainder of the Sox offseason.
1) — Many fans have praised the Red Sox ownership group for the way they have done things since arriving in 2002. John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington and others would debate, argue, and dissect each and every major decision that the Boston Red Sox made when it came to putting together a team. And, it worked quite well with a pair of World Series titles.
There would be differences. John Henry admitted that he was not a fan of signing Carl Crawford. Ben Cherington said he pushed hard for it. In the end, Theo and the Baseball Ops guys won out as the Sox inked Crawford to a 7 year, 142-million dollar contract.
Meanwhile, in this recent managerial search we watched as Ben Cherington presented the ownership group with Dale Sveum. The ownership group wanted someone with experience in a big league dugout. A disagreement. In the end, Ben, John, Tom and Larry agreed on Bobby Valentine. I’m sure there was plenty of debate over the choice. But, a choice was made after the normal process the Sox have used.
It’s ok to do business that way.
2) — As for the choice of Bobby Valentine? I like it. Clearly, this 2011 historical collapse was on the players. They are the ones who will have to hit Spring Training determined not to let it happen again. It’s all on them. They will be the ones who either succeed or fail.
If you put a manager in there with no experience it would almost be a distraction to the players. How would he handle things on and off the field? Does he really know what’s right? He would be feeling his way through things.
Meanwhile, Valentine has been there done that. He knows what it takes to win on the big league level. He’s seen a lot. Nothing should faze him. He knows how to handle himself in the dugout. If his players go out and perform he will win. If they don’t, he won’t and will eventually be gone.
Bottom line, I think this group needed an experienced manager.
Ben Cherington has some work to do now that he has a manager. Time to fix his roster.
Priority number one will be to re-sign David Ortiz.
Ortiz just turned 36, so Father Time is not on his side. However, he has produced two very good seasons after many had written him off. Last season he hit 29 homers while driving in 96 runs after posting 32 HR and 102 RBI in 2010.
He has to decide whether or not he should accept the Sox offer of arbitration. He has until Wednesday to do that. Last season Ortiz made 12.5-million dollars. He will get a raise to somewhere around $14 million if he accepts. A very good deal for him. He may want more years…..but it will mean less money per season.
If I were the Sox, I would make it simple with David. I give him a one year contract at $14 million with the clause that if he hits 25 home runs and drives in 80 then it kicks in again for the next season. And he can keep doing that for as long as he wants. If he doesn’t, then you part ways.
The Ortiz decision will affect where Ben goes after that. If David returns then you can go out and find a right-handed bat to compliment the right fielder, whether it be Ryan Kalish or Josh Reddick. If David goes elsewhere, Ben may have to find a right-hand-hitting right fielder and then mix and match at the DH position.
Ben also needs to find a closer, although he may not spend the big bucks to get him. After watching Jonathan Papelbon (Philly) and Heath Bell (Miami Marlins) sign for big bucks, Ben told me that the Red Sox will have a closer on Opening Day. And, even though he said that, Ryan Franklin was the St Louis Cardinals closer on Opening Day last season and was nowhere to be found when the Cards won the World Series in October.
Cherington also needs to find some pitching…both starting and relieving. What the markets…free agency and trades…delivers? Who knows.
But at least we’re on to the next phase of the Red Sox offseason. Enjoy the ride……