TALK OF A POWER STRUGGLE IS RIDICULOUS
It took some serious digging, but we've finally uncovered the causes of the power struggle between general manager Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine here in spring training.
This is what they're fighting over:
• The best parking spot at Fenway South.
• Who is placed at the head of the table in the conference room during staff meetings.
• Whose name comes first on the 3 a.m. emails from John W. Henry.
• Who gets seated right away at the Fort Myers restaurant Two Meatballs in the Kitchen.
• Deciding whether the complex needs a bicycle path (Bobby V) or a running track (Ben)
Imagine the battle lines that will be drawn when the regular season starts.
Is it too much to imagine that Cherington -- who since his hiring has undergone a battery of medical tests to determine where his ego is located (so far, all tests have been unable to detect one) -- could possibly coexist with Valentine?
Never mind that Cherington has been with the Red Sox for more than a decade while Valentine, who may be the Big Man on Campus, is nevertheless still a freshman. These guys couldn't possibly respect each other's point of view on something as inflammatory as the identity of the Opening Day shortstop. Please.
Saying there's a power struggle ignores all the evidence to the contrary and the fact that this has been a smooth-running camp with no hiccups, no more talk of beer-and-chicken, no agendas other than to erase the memory of last September's collapse.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
EVIDENCE SUGGESTS POTENTIAL FOR DISHARMONY
Indulge me briefly while I play the role of devil's advocate.
The truth is, no one knows what's really going on behind closed doors in Fort Myers. If you listen to Bobby Valentine tell it, things are hunky-dory between manager and general manager when it comes to making Red Sox roster decisions.
Disagreements? Sure. Compromise? Definitely. A power struggle? Let's look at what we know to deduce the answer to that one.
• Ben Cherington was certainly a team player about Valentine's hiring, but it's pretty clear from the process that he was not the GM's No. 1 choice for the job.
• Valentine has butted heads with his general manager in the past. With the Mets, his relationship with Steve Phillips became fractured in a power dispute that eventually led to Bobby V's firing a few years later. Phillips has since shouldered the blame for that mess, but the fact remains there's some history here.
• Some of the manager's comments this spring could be construed as unsupportive of one of Cherington's pet projects: converting Daniel Bard into a starter.
• When the 61-year-old Valentine was hired, he was given little wiggle room (just a two-year contract). With this likely his last chance to make his mark in the majors, of course he's going to have strong opinions on the ingredients he'll be cooking with. He doesn't come across as a go-with-the-flow kind of guy, does he? More like my way or the highway.
Keep in mind, too, that this is just spring training. What happens if things start to go south? We're not trying to doom this marriage before it even really begins, just pointing out there's reason for any skeptic to wonder whether all is truly harmonious.
David Lefort is an editor for ESPNBoston.com.