Thursday, June 24, 2010
Can Valentine turn Marlins around?
Four years seems like a long time to me. The latest on the Marlins' next manager (maybe):
A source close to the negotiations said that the Marlins are expected to offer Valentine a four-year contract.
Valentine, now an analyst with ESPN, withdrew his name from consideration for the Orioles' managerial job Wednesday soon after it was announced that the Marlins had fired manager Fredi Gonzalez. Valentine has known Loria for 20 years, and has had informal discussions with Loria over the last eight months about Valentine's interest in someday managing the Marlins.
Edwin Rodriguez, the Marlins' Triple-A manager, was named the interim manager. Rodriguez is Puerto Rican and the Marlins play the Mets in a three-game series in Puerto Rico starting Monday. A source close to the negotiations said it seems logical the Marlins will have Rodriguez manage the Marlins for the three games in Puerto Rico, then name Valentine the manager.
Does Valentine represent a quick fix, à la Billy Martin?
In 1985, he took over a 9-23 Rangers squad and went 53-76 the rest of the way; the next year, Texas won 87 games.
In 1996, he took over a 59-72 Mets squad and went 12-19 the rest of the way; the next year, New York won 88 games.
Those two experiences are so stunningly similar that we have to guard against reading too much into them. Obviously, two partial seasons really don't tell us much of anything. And the Marlins are six-and-a-half games out of first place anyway. While they might be more talented than their record suggests, it probably won't matter given their position in the standings.
I'll say this, though: Unlike Fredi Gonzalez and Joe Girardi before him, Valentine has a history of winning games. Not a lot of games -- his career winning percentage in the majors is .510, with zero division titles -- but he's managed many hundreds of games and he's won most of them (his record in Japan, though less extensive, is more impressive).
Overall, Valentine's performance as a manager has been strong but less than brilliant, and a manager with a less flamboyant personality probably would have been set to pasture by now. But the Marlins have a talented roster right now and will open their new ballpark in 2012, and Valentine could hardly find a better situation for his comeback.