The days of anything goes on Yawkey Way are about to end with the hiring of Valentine, the soon-to-be ex-ESPN analyst who is out of the Dean Wormer generation when it comes to putting up with frat-house antics. And even though the portrait of the Sox clubhouse as an out-of-control playground for pampered millionaires has been vastly exaggerated, there is no doubt that the Red Sox are about to encounter a jarring new reality under Valentine, whose world view is considerably less tolerant than that of his predecessor, Terry Francona.
Francona rarely said a bad word about his players, including Manny Ramirez, who caused the manager more pain than all of his knee operations combined.
One of the first things Valentine did when he became manager of the New York Mets was pick a fight with one of his star players, Todd Hundley, questioning his extracurricular activities and lack of sleep. Does that sound like a man who will tolerate in-game runs to Popeye's?
"Discipline is not 30 whacks with a whip these days," Valentine said last week on Yawkey Way during a session with reporters following his formal interview with the Sox. "But I think everyone likes discipline. I think everyone likes structure. Everyone likes to be acknowledged when they do things properly. Discipline and rules and things like that -- it's just about right and wrong."
ESPNBoston | New manager Valentine will shake up Red Sox
This is the one time I wish John Lackey were healthy. I could see the Valentine press conference unfolding thusly.
Press: "Bobby, welcome to Boston. Could you share your thoughts on how last year ended for this team and what you plan to do to change it?"
Bobby: "Well the team completely fell apart, mostly because their most expensive player decide to pitch -- and really poorly, might I add -- all season even though he needed Tommy John surgery. So I'm glad I don't have to deal with that."
Press: "Are you saying John Lackey is the reason the Red Sox didn't make the playoffs?"
Bobby: "I'm saying I hate him."
By all accounts it's going to be a fun era. People have differing views as to whether it will be successful, but I'm thinking of it this way: If the team tuned out Francona enough that we had to run him out of town, it probably doesn't make sense to hire somebody similar. It probably makes more sense to bring in a more boisterous personality, more of a disciplinarian, and somebody who might grab the players' attention.
On page 2, Sean McAdam evaluates the closer options going into the winter meetings.
In the meantime, the club's options for replacements for Papelbon seem to be dwindling.
Two closers in whom the Sox had shown some interest have already signed elsewhere. Joe Nathan agreed to a two-year, $14.5 million deal with the Texas Rangers and Jonathan Broxton signed a one-year, $4 million deal plus incentives Tuesday morning with the Kansas City Royals.
Both were attractive to the Red Sox because they had enjoyed success as closers for playoff teams and were seen as relatively affordable because they were coming off injury concerns. Nathan underwent Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2010 while Broxton appeared in just 14 games last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers before undergoing a surgical procedure to remove bone spurs in his right elbow.
Nathan was apparently determined to pitch in Texas. As for Broxton, the Sox had made contact with his agent before the pitcher's decision to accept a deal with the Royals, with the Sox sending the message that they weren'tyet ready to move aggressively on the closer.
It's unknown how much -- if any -- of that decision was driven by their
focus on a manager, or whether the Sox don't want to make a significant pitching acquisition before choosing a manager and pitching coach.
I still think Bard is the best option. The most important thing is we don't pay somebody like Francisco Cordero or Ryan Madson $30 million.
The Broxton signing was a blow, but I'd like to see us grab one more guy in a similar vein (plus the usual assortment of minor league deals hoping one hits) as a safety measure. I think Bard can handle it, though. His September implosion was more the result of overwork, in my opinion, than some kind of mental issue. All relievers go through bad times; I think he can overcome them and be a great closer for us.
ESPNBoston | Source: Valentine gets Red Sox job | So...what kind of manager is Bobby V | CSNNE | Valentine's Day | Where else is Papi headed? | Herald | Red Sox offer job to Bobby Valentine | Analysis speaks to Bobby Valentine's approach | Globe | Valentine picked as Red Sox manager | Major piece put in place | Five thoughts on Bobby Valentine