OK, Bobby V is coming. The Red Sox are Valentine’s team now. And the idea that it will be a calm player friendly environment is as likely as the Red Sox retiring Grady Little’s number.
I think there is only one way Bobby Valentine’s authority can work in Boston: Give him TOTAL authority. Make it clear that it is indeed his way or the highway. Take away as many obstacles as possible of people to challenge him.
Normally I think it is positive to challenge authority. But bringing in Valentine means a change in the culture, and that can’t be done in a half assed manner.
It HAS to be Bobby V’s ship. No “That’s not the way we did it before.”
Otherwise they just should have kept Francona or promoted one of his lieutenants.
Which brings a challenge regarding The Lobster.
Readers of Sully Baseball know that I believe Jason Varitek’s nickname should be The Lobster.
The Red Sox captain is a free agent right now and the reasons to bring him back are hard to find.
He brings a tiny bit of power to the plate and he hasn’t as awful as he was in 2009 when his .209 average and .703 OPS led to the Victor Martinez trade. But he has become subpar offensively.
The traditional arguments to retain The Lobster are his ability to call a great game and his leadership skills.
Well his game calling and handling the pitching staff didn’t help the Red Sox in their historic nosedive. The pitchers all had ERAs with area codes and game plans seemed to change from pitch to pitch.
And his leadership skills didn’t get Beckett, Lester or Lackey’s act together when the team needed them more than ever. If it was indeed Francona’s team and Varitek’s clubhouse, then that needs to totally change with the arrival of Bobby V.
In a way, Varitek would be a relic of the Francona years and one that could possibly act as a tension point to the new manager.
Varitek could represent the classic “It’s the way we do things around here” barrier.
And of course Bobby V is the “If that way was so great, then why was I hired?” counterpoint.
If the Lobster returns, and it isn’t for his bat or pitch calling, then what else could he offer except a place for the veterans to turn to when Bobby V gets under their skin (which he will)?
So yeah, I am advocating that the Red Sox 14 inning win in the Bronx on September 25th be Varitek’s last game as a player in a Boston uniform.
Now the Red Sox are not exactly a sentimental organization. Just witness how quickly Nomar, Pedro, Lowe, Foulke, Damon, Bellhorn, Embree, Manny and Papelbon were shown the door when they were considered to be done. Ask Theo and Tito how cute and cuddly the Sox are.
So Varitek just might not come back and turn up being a backup catcher for the Yankees for all we know.
I think they should keep him in the organization, but away from Bobby V.
How can they do that?
Drive 45 minutes south of Fenway and make Varitek the manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Seriously, his playing days are done and putting The Lobster on Bobby V’s coaching staff could be a recipe for disaster.
Manage the top farm club. Help the pipeline of young players up to the big club, be part of the organization and let Bobby V put his own stamp on the team.
And if (when?) Bobby V implodes and the situation becomes intolerable, he can be let go and Varitek can take over the club with managerial experience and familiarity with the young players he managed and the veterans who he played with.
All that is good, but where does that leave Arnie Beyeler, the current PawSox manager?
Make him the one provision for Bobby V. “You can pick your entire coaching staff except you need to bring Arnie Beyeler in.”
Beyeler has been in pro baseball as a player, scout, minor league coach and minor league manager since 1986 but has never made it to the majors. He’s not about to make waves.
Stick him as the first base coach and Bobby V can have his own bench coach, third base coach, hitting coach, pitching coach and bullpen coach. And that way the young players who played in Pawtucket last year will have a familiar face.
So let’s review what this does…
Bobby V would have real control of the team (and why hire him if you don’t give him control?) The remnants of 2011 leadership would be gone.
The Lobster Varitek would remain in the organization and build up his credentials to come in and bring back some 2004 and 2007 magic if Valentine doesn’t fit. But we also would avoid seeing him clash with Valentine and continue to erode at the plate as he approaches 40.
And Beyeler gets to contribute at the major league level after more than a quarter century of dues paid.
Makes perfect sense to me.
Which is why it probably won’t happen.