Tim Bogar, who spent this season as Bobby Valentine’s bench coach, responded to the former manager’s comments about the Red Sox coaching staff undermining him by saying Valentine is “completely wrong.”
“That bothers me because of what the coaches went through this year and what we dealt with,” Bogar said, via Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston. “The coaching staff was prepared to do everything that we were supposed to do to help Bobby succeed, but not once did he portray what he wanted us to do to help him and eventually he shut some of us out completely.”
Earlier this month, before being fired, Valentine said during a radio interview that he felt the coaching staff undermined him and last night in an interview with Bob Costas on NBC Sports Network he made similar comments and said: “I should have made sure the coaches were my guys.”
Bogar, who was a holdover from Terry Francona’s staff, insisted that his relationship with the players remained strong. “The only bad communication was between Bobby and everyone,” Bogar said. “The rest of the communication was great. I talked to the players daily about stuff. We talked about everything. The coaches talked about everything.”
Dustin Pedroia called Bogar a “calming voice” and Mike Aviles noted that he’d always go to Bogar with questions because “he’s one of those guys who has great communication skills.” Of course, McDonald writes that Valentine “resented the fact that the players often spoke with the coaching staff and not directly with him.”
But honestly, knowing what we know about Valentine and his inability to avoid making off-field headlines, if you were a player with an issue would you talk to him or a member of his coaching staff?
On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”
Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”
Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.
The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.
When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.