Discussion

Bobby Valentine's first moves

Updated: November 30, 2011, 10:18 AM ET
By Buster Olney

Somebody should make this sign and hang it on the front door of the Boston Red Sox clubhouse:

ALL PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS TO BE LEFT HERE, NEVER TO ENTER.

Because ignoring reputations and focusing on the task at hand is the best way -- and maybe the only way -- they can all make this mix work together. There will be an enormous amount of talent in the room, and all of them -- from Josh Beckett to Bobby Valentine to Jon Lester to Larry Lucchino -- have an opportunity to bury the past, to succeed in spite of what is said about them.

As Valentine emerged as a managerial candidate, some Red Sox players have been upset; they've been grumbling to each other, through texts and phone calls. Maybe it's because they heard Bobby critique their play on the air. Maybe they haven't liked his tone. Maybe they haven't liked his smile. Maybe they've heard bad things. And the fact is they had no power to do anything about it, because the September collapse completely undercut the credibility of the Red Sox players. If one of them had called the front office to register concerns about Valentine, they might've heard laughter on the other end of the line. The Boston players had complete control of the clubhouse in 2011, and we know what happened.

Well, the players should forget about that history, about their preconceived notions of Valentine, and focus on this: Bobby Valentine really cares about baseball; he really wants to win. He will be into every pitch of every inning of every game of every week of every month of the season. He will see everything.

If you gave a test to all folks in the sport about all aspects of the game, I'd guess he might score as high or better than anyone currently in uniform -- about how the sport is played, why it's played, how it needs to be played, what makes hitters succeed, what makes pitchers succeed, and the proper way for infielders to prepare for a play and make a play. He'll protect relievers from overuse, he'll rest tired position players, he'll use his bench guys. He'll talk, he'll explain, he'll listen.

This is probably Valentine's last chance at managing in the big leagues. And did I mention this -- he really wants to win.

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