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

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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?

Kyle Schwarber: Before and After

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It’s always a bit deceiving to see offseason workout photos of players who are said to be getting into great shape because guys in those pics are wearing compression shirts and crap and we’re used to seeing them in baseball uniforms. I remember pics of Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz in the offseason looking svelte, only to see them in uniform come spring as their familiar beefy selves. Uniforms are often loose and billowy and the players wear  a couple of layers when they’re suited up, so at least visually speaking it’s better to compare apples to apples.

Which brings us to Kyle Schwarber. All offseason long we’ve been getting reports about Schwarber working out, losing weight and, of course, getting into The Best Shape of His Life. And some of those pics have definitely shown a young man who has cut fat and gotten lean. Good for him!

Let’s see how that translates to Schwarber in uniform. Here is is at spring training last year:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 21: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 21, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

 

Here he is toward the end of last season:

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 09: at Wrigley Field on September 9, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

And here he is now:

MESA, AZ – FEBRUARY 20: Kyle Schwarber #12 of the Chicago Cubs poses during Chicago Cubs Photo Day on February 20, 2018 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Nice goin’, kid.