This Boston Globe/Nick Cafardo interview with Bobby Valentine is going to get linked and tweeted about a lot today because, buried deep inside, Valentine opines that, had he stayed with the Red Sox for 2013, he thinks he could have turned the ship around. But to the extent people play the “OMG, look at what that deluded nut Valentine said!” game, they’re being pretty unfair to the guy.
Yes, he said he thinks he could have won with the 2013 Red Sox. But that little bit is surrounded by tons of high praise for John Farrell, Ben Cherington and the players on the 2013 Red Sox team. Indeed, if anything, this is about as magnanimous and un-self-centered a set of comments Valentine will ever offer when something directly related to him comes up. Here’s the entire quote:
“I’d like to think that if I came back for my second year that, given the changes and improvements, I would have been able to do the same thing,” Valentine said. “Ben did a great job this offseason rebuilding the team. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. Usually a team will go after one or two free agents and hope they work out. When you’re signing seven or eight guys and they all work out and blend in together as well as they did, that’s amazing to me. The entire organization should be very proud of what they did. They should take a bow. It was amazing work.”
The “blending” thing — in addition to some more direct comments earlier — is clearly Valentine’s hats-off to Farrell. The comments about Cherington and the roster makeover are clear. The bit about “if I came back …” well, what do you expect him to say? “Really, Nick, if they brought me back this season it would have been like a flaming bag of crap on someone’s front porch. I mean, we woulda stunk on ice!” Of course the guy is going to say he could have done a better job. He’s a former athlete and all-around confident person. It’d be news if the guy was suddenly defeatist.
As it is: good on Valentine for offering praise in a situation where a lot of guys may have offered it more backhandedly or, more likely, declined comment at all. If anyone is playing the “Bobby V. said something crazy!” game with this, they’re misrepresenting the man.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.