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Ask Nick: Will Bobby Valentine be back next year?

Posted by Leonard Neslin  August 22, 2012 12:02 PM

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I think I've heard the word "communication" about enough. As far as communication issues go, it's important to have it, but once players hit the baseball field, they're playing baseball. That's where they play the game. They are not running into each other, not knowing what they're supposed to do. They know what to do pitch, hit, run, field. There's no "communication" involved with that other than hitting cutoff men and reading signs.

Having communication problems is a nice way of saying "We stink."

The Red Sox stink on the field. I have a hard time believing that $17-$20 million a year players can't play baseball without good communication. It's such nonsense.

I don't agree with Ben Cherington that it's not necessarily the personnel. I think it is. If they haven't learned by now it's that the personnel has to be changed after three years of finishing out of the playoffs, don't think the lesson will ever be learned.

Otherwise, it has been a big week in Boston for changes on and off the field. Carl Crawford is headed off for his Tommy John surgery (Thursday) and Bob McClure has been fired. The last two pitching coaches Curt Young and Bob McClure haven't worked very well. Maybe they should hire a righty next season.

Randy Niemann was hired as the interim pitching coach. I must say that Niemann did a good job in McClure's absence for family issues earlier this season. It seemed the staff had a decent run during that time period. Niemann was the assistant pitching coach. At one point Niemann was told he could no longer be in the Red Sox bench per order of Major League Baseball which only allows five coaches to be in uniform. But usually the only way this is enforced is if someone (usually another team) complains.

I've always thought Rick Peterson would be Valentine's best choice for pitching coach. He's got a history of turning pitchers around and I'd bet he would have good results with Jon Lester and Josh Beckett (if they choose to keep him). He's not concerned about whether he's popular with the pitchers. He's tough, he has his own ideas on how to do things. He did a great job in Oakland with Barry Zito and Mark Mulder in particular. Currently the Orioles' minor league pitching coordinator, he takes a biomechanics approach to pitching and is tied in with Dr. James Andrews. Seems like a no-brainer.

Now to the mail:

Now that Brad Mills had been fired, how likely do you think it is that he will replace Bobby V this offseason. I don't think his record in Houston is a reflection of his ability to manage, the Astros have practically had a minor league roster for the past two seasons.
Stephen, Niceville, Fla.

I think Brad Mills is excellent. I've always been a big fan of his style and work. He was Terry Francona's enforcer. I just don't think Bobby V is going to be replaced. I think the owners are reasonable enough to know there are many other issues they need to deal with. The manager is way down the list and the players, for the most part, play hard for Valentine. The results just haven't been there.

For years, I have been writing to professional baseball writers; congressmen; presidents and others who could spearhead a necessary movement to have a legitimate salary cap enforced in major league baseball. I find it hard to believe it is not talked about more often. There is no parity because of it and the New York Yankees, for example, virtually ensure themselves of a wild card slot every year. Money is of no consequence to them so a financial penalty for a violation is a farce. Other major sports caps are legitimate. It is hard to understand; year after year it continues and there is not anybody (to my knowledge) complaining about it.
James, Quincy, Mass.

I've heard this for many years, but I like the way baseball is structured. It's a true free enterprise system. If you can't compete, then don't buy a team. I like the fact that teams can spend as much as they want. The only I would like to see is a minimum cap. You have to spend say, $70 million and adjust it every year. I also don't like revenue sharing. It seems small market teams can pocket $30-$40 million per year and seldom use it to improve their major league which is the spirit for which it was intended.

In a recent radio interview, Johnny Damon spoke about a negative atmosphere after leaving spring training in 2002; and it was guys like him and Millar who helped liven things up. Maybe there is not enough of that now. Those teams seemed to complain less, have more fun and win. Who are the goofy gung-ho guys on this roster?
Bill, Bronx, N.Y.

Bill makes a great point. There are no Johnny Damons on this team with the exception of Dustin Pedroia and to some extent, David Ortiz. I think as they start to manipulate the roster this winter they have to find guys with great intangibles as well as skill. It's tough to do. But that '04 team had that great mix. It was self-policing really. It's a managers dream to have those types of individuals on a team. This roster not only doesn't have it, but it has some sour people, whose careers are on a downward trend. Let's face it, the manager and the GM were changed, but the roster wasn't.

We seem to have a great farm system. Yet the emphasis the past few years has been on mega deals of which some come unstuck. Do you see the Cherington/Valentine era being more about using the prospects and some older guys out of the farm system (like Middlebrooks & Podsednik) to Give the team a lift?
Bill, Melbourne, Australia

I think Cherington will be more protective of the farm system. I think he needs to be because ownership isn't going to give him the blank check they gave Theo Epstein. That proved to be a lot of wasted money.

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