BOSTON, MA: Manager Bobby Valentine #25 of the Boston Red Sox watches his team play against the New York Yankees during the game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
R.J. Anderson wrote a piece at Baseball Prospectus on Wednesday, detailing how one would fail at the job of managing a major-league baseball team. Red Sox fans have some experience with that over the last year, and, unsurprisingly, Anderson uses both Terry Francona and Bobby Valentine as examples in the piece.
It's a very well thought-out article, constructing a look at what a manager should do from various writers and experts within the game, from John Hart to Chris Jaffe to Bill Barnwell to Joe Posnanski. It appears as if Boston's last two managers failed at achieving the goals set forth by the group -- Francona only at the end, of course -- and that because of this, it's likely the Red Sox will be looking elsewhere following the 2012 season.
One point I've made in the past (more on the podcast than anywhere) is that it's fine if Valentine isn't the perfect strategist in today's game -- what matters the most is that he keeps the clubhouse together, like Francona used to. He hasn't succeeded in doing that, though, at least in the iterations of the clubhouse that no longer exist, and Anderson points out the importance of this while utilizing two examples that come to mind when you think of poor in-game managers:
It also reminded me of Ron Washington and Dusty Baker. These two are oft-mocked for their clumsy in-game managing. They drive iconoclasts crazy with irrational moves: bunting at bad times, refusing to use their bullpen in a smart manner, and so on. Both are able to get the results necessary to keep their jobs. You could assume the Rangers and Reds are incompetent, leaving Washington and Baker's employments as a symptom of systematic failure. But those are two of the best teams in the majors. If they know something about how to evaluate ballplayers, they probably know something about how to evaluate managers, too.
If Valentine had the clubhouse together a la Francona, but was Washington-esque with his dugout skills, would you be so willing to cut him loose?