The wait is over: the Red Sox have a new manager, and his name is Bobby Valentine.
It's still a bit tentative, but both Gordon Edes of ESPN and Mike Lynch of WCVB have cited sources who say that an agreement is in place. With an earlier report that Gene Lamont may have been eliminated as a candidate, it seems almost sure now that Valentine will be the Red Sox' manager in 2012.
Valentine, a veteran of 10 MLB seasons as a player, previously managed the Texas Rangers for eight years and the New York Mets for seven. He's emerged with a winning record of 1117-1072, but a very mixed reputation. There have been conflicts with executives both in the US and in Japan, where he took the Chiba Lotte Marines to a championship and garnered the support of fans and disdain of ownership. His departure from the Mets in 2002 also happened under circumstances similar to those that caused Terry Francona's exit.
I've certainly made it clear that I'm no great fan of Bobby Valentine. As far as in-game strategy is concerned, his record with bunting is pretty middle-of-the-road, but he has let his teams run far too freely on the basepaths (we'll see how the bullpen works out). What has really made myself and others so fearful of his hiring, however, is his on-air persona. The Bobby Valentine of ESPN broadcasts should not be allowed to manage the Boston Red Sox. But the fact of the matter is that we don't know whether that is the Bobby Valentine who will sit in the dugout come 2012, or if it's just an air he puts on for a more mainstream audience.
I'm not saying to give him the benefit of the doubt. But I think we naysayers owe it to ourselves to at least wait for April before we go jumping off any bridges.
Besides, unless he's a real disaster he--as is the case with so many other managers--won't really have a big impact on the team.