ESPN baseball reporter Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Red Sox' managerial situation.
Ousted skipper Bobby Valentine created a stir Tuesday with comments to interviewer Bob Costas in which he criticized the team -- most notably David Ortiz -- and the media. Olney said that shouldn't be a surprise.
"No, and I think it will continue," Olney said. "It's clear that Bobby was not happy with how it ended. He qualifies everything by saying, 'It's my fault, I should have done a better job.' But then he'll also in the same breath not hesitate to take shots at different people.
"The thing I'm going to be curious about is whether or not David Ortiz and others fire back. Or if they say, 'You know what, we know that if you get into this with Bobby, he's always going to be the one who gets the last word in.' David Ortiz, I thought the entire year, really he could have done incredible damage to Bobby -- and clearly he disagreed with him on some issues; he was in the middle of the thing with Mike Aviles in spring training -- and he held back. I'm really very fascinated to see whether or not he and others decide to go back at Bobby, or if they say, 'You know what, he's not the manager anymore, no point in continuing this."
Asked about Valentine's future, Olney said he has no idea what's in store.
"I don't know what Bobby wants," Olney said. "Does Bobby really want to manage again? I don't think there's any chance anyone will hire him as a manager again, but will he want to pursue something in Japan? I have no idea. He certainly is going to have a lot of time to think about it, the same way Ozzie Guillen is."
New Sox manager John Farrell comes in after two unimpressive seasons in Toronto. Olney said some of the Blue Jays players have a history of questionable behavior -- specifically mentioning Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus and Yunel Escobar -- so it's difficult to determine who deserves more of the blame.
"That's the collection of players they had there. That's the group that John Farrell had to work with. Was it an unworkable group? I don't know," Olney said. "The other thing is, is John just going to be better suited to deal with a group of players where the leader is someone like a Dustin Pedroia, a Jon Lester, a David Ortiz -- people who know him.
"I do think that this is going to be a situation where as John Farrell comes back, he's probably going to run into the spring training complex in Fort Myers and give his players a big hug and say, 'Thank God I get to be with you guys.' And I'll bet you the players will be running right at him as well, saying, 'Thank God you're here!' "
Looking at Farrell strengths, Olney explained that the new manager is well-rounded, versatile and personable.
"I'll defer to people I've spoken with about him, and they say that John Farrell is one of the few people in baseball who could do any job," Olney said. "He could be a general manager. He could be a farm director, the way that he was with the Indians. He could be a manager. He knows all part of the game. He knows the organizations and how they operate.
"I know that Ben Cherington, when he first got to know him, when Ben was the farm director for the Red Sox and John Farrell was the farm director for the Indians, was really impressed with his breadth of knowledge. And when the Red Sox brought him over, it wasn't only to be the pitching coach. They brought him over to essentially be the person who instilled a pitching philosophy up and down the organization.
"And I think, too, the way he carries himself, that's the type of personality that veteran players respond to. … These guys, the old-fashioned Earl Weaver, fiery managers who will say things about players to try to get them going, that model just does not work anymore. Because players will have that stuff pop up on their iPods, they'll be hearing from family members and friends, people asking what the heck is going on with your manager saying these things. And John is certainly never going to be one who gets into that."
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