Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who now provides analysis for ESPN, voiced serious concern about new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine during an appearance on Tuesday's Mut & Merloni show.
Schilling said, "I like Bobby. I like him a lot," after working with Valentine at ESPN last season. However, Schilling said, "I thought that the manager that managed the Mets that I was not a big fan of was now going to be a different manager, and I don't think there's anything different at all. And I don't think that that is going to be conducive to doing well here. There's a lot of things I think that are happening not just from his perspective, but when you talk to these guys -- and I'm still talking to some of these guys -- I don't think this is going well. And I think it's going bad quicker than I expected it to."
Asked for specific criticisms of Valentine, Schilling said: "It's little stuff. One of [Terry Francona's] strengths I think was understanding that to be a great big league manager, you don't have to know when to hit and run, bunt and change pitchers as much as you need to manage people. I think the major league manager has so little to do with wins and losses, more so in baseball than just about in any sport.
"I think it's about managing people. Because you're looking at an eight-month schedule. You're interacting with your players on a very different level, on a very different scale. And I think that becomes the most important trait, characteristic of a manager. And I always -- kind of like I felt with Tony La Russa in a sense -- I always feel like Bobby's trying to re-invent the game. I don't think players have ever responded well to that.
"The point I made the other night was that he's doing a lot of things right now that are forcing his players to extend their media involvement to answer questions about him and the situation when it's already a challenge enough to do it, to play in this market and to win."
When it was suggested that Valentine would keep the players on his toes because they don't know what he's going to say, Schilling explained that that does not make for a good locker room.
"That's not a good thing. That's not a good thing," he stressed. "Because the game is hard enough to play as it is and challenging enough to play as it is. And every player has their self-doubt within their makeup. The last thing you want to be a wild card in this whole mix is the manager. That's your stability. That was one of the things that kept Terry I think so close to his players. You knew when you were struggling, if you were doing everything you could do, he was going to be, 'Hey, listen, you guys are playing, I know it's not working out, get after it tomorrow.'
"Any time you introduce the wild card, the guy who's going to flip over the spread or throw something against the wall or act and react in an unpredictable way, it's not a positive thing."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On the team's handling of Daniel Bard: "I think this is probably the one player that's being mismanaged all to hell right now. I don't see the pitching depth to just put this guy where you feel like he's going to pitch the best. This guy is a No. 4 in a championship rotation. If he's your No. 4, you have a leg up on just about everybody in baseball. The key for me is I want him to get into his midseason routine for preparation. And so I want him to go out there and start thinking like a starter.
"It becomes challenging because Bobby's not a pitcher, never pitched in the big leagues. I've played for managers like this. They're sitting there talking about things about pitching, and then they walk away and the pitching coach goes, 'You know what? Just kind of let it go in one ear and out the other and we'll work on pitching.' It's a dangerous place for a manager to go that doesn't pitch. Bobby can't tell me what it's like to execute my third pitch with runners on first and third in the seventh inning. Bob McClure can tell me, 'Hey, listen, you need to dial back mentally, and emotionally you need to make sure you're under control when you throw the pitch,' and blah, blah, blah. None of my other coaches can do that. Plus, I think you undermine your pitching coach in just staggering ways when you don't allow him to coach and manage his pitchers."
On reports of a power struggle between Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington: "Let's put it this way: You're not building a winner if it's a power struggle. If those two guys aren't collaborating -- yeah, they're going to argue. And I know Terry and Theo [Epstein] -- I was involved in some of those arguments -- if they're not arguing, they're not being productive. But at the same time, it can't be a power struggle. Both guys have to know the direction the organization's headed, have to know the direction and the intent with their talent and their top prospects. And whether they agree or disagree in the room, when they walk out of the room, they have to be on the same page. If it truly is a power struggle, then one of those two guys is an ex-something waiting to happen."
On Jose Iglesias, who was optioned to Triple-A Tuesday: "I think you're looking at a Rey Ordonez until he matures offensively. And I think Rey Ordonez, had he hit .280, would have been in the Hall of Fame. … If he's not ready offensively, the worst possible thing he could do is start his season in the big leagues. The beatdown that you get early in your career, you have to be mentally strong enough to overcome that. And they know this kid better than I do. My assumption is defensively he was ready five years ago. Offensively, he's still not there."
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