It’s only March, but Bobby Valentine is already making himself an easy target

26 Comments

I don’t mean that headline to be too critical. I’m not a hypocrite here. The media person in me really dislikes it when managers are boring by-the-book guys who seem to be animated by nothing. So I’m certainly not going to hate on Bobby Valentine for making life interesting. And interesting he has made it.

For example, on Monday he got into a little thing with Ozzie Guillen during a Marlins-Red Sox game.  Guillen was ejected. Valentine mockingly waved bye-bye to him from the dugout. After the game, Guillen was asked about it. He said he hadn’t seen it, but that if he he had he would’ve told Valentine to “go f*** himself.”  This led to Valentine to respond last night, saying about Guillen, “isn’t that his standard comment on everything?”

Last night, apparently, Valentine over-managed a bit during the first inning of a Yankees-Red Sox game, his first as Boston’s manager. With runners on second and third, he moved his infield back, appearing — as would make sense in the first inning of a spring training game — to be conceding a run. But then he had the infielders rush in when the pitcher delivered the ball.  This led to YES announcer Lou Piniella to criticize Valentine for being showy.

Like I said: I find this sort of thing — petty personal dustups and unconventional managing that causes media folks to chatter — all kinds of fun on a personal level. These sorts of things fill the space between games, make our comments section fun and keep us from getting bored by too many stone-faced guys talking and managing as if they were programmed.

I can’t say, however, that everyone will feel that way. Indeed, if the Red Sox don’t win and win a lot, Valentine’s schtick is gonna be held up as a reason for it, justified or not. He’ll be a distraction according to some. He will be unfavorably compared to the mostly no-nonsense Terry Francona.

It’s for this reason that I have always been somewhat skeptical of the Valentine hiring. He’s a smart guy. He has had success. I think he can be successful in Boston too.  But if the Sox do anything other than win the division, isn’t he the easiest target going?

And hasn’t the Boston media shown in the wake of the 2011 collapse and a million other examples before it that, if there’s an easy target, they’re gonna open with both barrels blazing?

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.

Rob Manfred talks about playing regular season games in Mexico

8 Comments

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.

Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”

A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.

Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.

Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.