Why Bobby Valentine Won’t Be the Next Mets Manager

Ever since Willie Randolph was fired — and probably even before — there has been a groundswell supporting the return of Bobby Valentine to Flushing as manager of the futiles.

As time goes on, the legend of Bobby spreads further and grows larger — to the point where many Mets fans have reached a point where any other choice for manager seems illogical.

Ah, how the passage of time clouds memories, heals wounds, and distorts reality.

Last week, Darin at Amazin’ Avenue asked the question — why are Mets fans obsessed with Bobby Valentine? The author asks a good question, citing Valentine’s so-so career record, overactive ego, and sometimes inappropriate press relations. Oh, you forgot about that last part? Try to remember — while many people have listed “knows how to deal with the NYC press” as a feather in Valentine’s cap, the truth is, he was far from a media darling at the tail end of his tenure with the Mets (a media whore, yes, but darling … not quite). Fans conveniently forget (or are too young to remember) Valentine’s critical comments in a speech to the Wharton School of Business; the outright lies he told and the odd jokes he made after the marijuana fiasco; and the public feuds he had in the newspapers with players such as Rickey Henderson, Bobby Bonilla, Peter Harnisch, Todd Hundley, Al Leiter, and Edgardo Alfonzo (among others). Oh? you forgot that Bobby V. publicly criticized fan favorite Alfonzo for focusing too much on his next contract, rather than his on-field performance?

But, it is understood why Mets fans are so obsessed with Bobby V., and have these convienent memory lapses. Valentine was, after all, the last manager to take the Mets into the World Series — and he did it with a team that had no business getting that far. For one season, Valentine pushed all the right buttons, rarely making a mistake with his often overzealous in-game tactics and getting players like Benny Agbayani, Glendon Rusch, Todd Pratt, and Timo Perez to play well above their heads. He had personality, a great smile, a sense of humor, and was honored several times for his charitable contributions — in other words, someone who was hard not to like.

Unfortunately, and despite his possibly unjustified popularity, there’s little to no chance he’ll ever manage the Mets again. Reason one is his price tag; the Mets will not pay top-dollar for a manager, even if that manager could result in a boost in ticket sales. Reason two is the same reason he was fired almost ten years ago: control. The straw that broke the camel’s back in 2002 was Valentine’s request to be more involved in personnel decisions. Such involvement is taboo in Sandy Alderson’s grand plan, who deems field managers as glorified sock puppets, whose job is to faithfully carry out orders sanctioned from above.

To further burst your Bobby-loving bubble, the truth is, Valentine likely wouldn’t be as effective today as he was at the turn of the century. Some of the “out of the box” strategies he applied back then are blase now — such as incessant matchups based on stats and established bullpen roles. Additionally, there was a much different dynamic in upper management during Bobby V’s time — specifically, Fred Wilpon was calling the shots. It is now the Jeff Wilpon Era, and things have changed in the way decisions are made; ironically, Valentine might have had more freedom and influence back then than he’d ever have a chance to get now.

Perhaps most significantly, Bobby Valentine — like all of us — is eight years older; he’ll turn 61 next May. Youth was one of Valentine’s assets in the 20th century; players and fans fed off his energy, and his reasonable proximity in age to the players he managed seemed to add to his appeal. He’s an old guy now, who may or may not still have that youthful exuberance, and who may not identify as well with modern ballplayers as he did a decade ago.

That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see Bobby Valentine manage again — I would. Whether it’s for the Mets or elsewhere, I would like to see if he still has that energy, if he still shows that flair for being serious while not taking things too seriously. It would be fun to see his mind work out today’s game and motivate today’s players, perhaps inventing new strategies (or ways to disguise himself from umpires).

However, if Valentine returns to an MLB dugout, it won’t be in Flushing — though who knows, it could be in New York.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Mike October 26, 2010 at 10:46 am
    Joe, it’s not like Valentine couldn’t have learned a thing or two over the years. You act like he’d manage exactly the same way, as though he had Mike Piazza and Al Leiter again. Bobby was best at getting a team to play hard, to involve everyone on the team by placing them into roles, and for keeping everyone fresh and sharp by sitting regulars and playing everyone. These are qualities our previous manager did not bring to the table well enough if at all.

    I think the obsession with Bobby comes from the idea that he fits the current needs of the team, plus his familiarity with the organization, making him an attractive choice. You mention some of his media gaffes, and yet ignore the fact that he was right about Fonze (what did he do in San Francisco?) and he was in a really bad situation where his team fell apart around him and blamed him. How on earth do you side with Grant Roberts in that situation? Things got bad, he saw the writing on the wall, and he went out his way, I have no problem with it today.

    No, he will never be back. Yes, I would love it if he did.

    • Mark Healey October 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm
      Dude, he was being sracastic about the stats and the established roles thing…
    • Joe Janish October 26, 2010 at 5:18 pm
      Bobby V. is familiar with the organization or is familiar to Mets fans? Again, the org has changed since he last managed here — Fred, not Jeff, Wilpon was calling the shots. And people like John Franco and Al Leiter no longer have the owner’s ear.

      I don’t care if he was right or wrong about Fonzie — that was one example illustrating that Bobby threw players under the bus in the media — much like Jerry Manuel did the past few years. Additionally, I’m not sure I understand how Valentine was “right” about Fonzie — what did chronic back injuries and playing in San Francisco have to do with Valentine saying he was unfocused?

      Additionally, what in the world are you talking about re: taking the side of Grant Roberts??? Valentine was caught BOLDFACED LYING to the media about the situation, and he tried to make a joke of it by demonstrating what a high person would look like playing baseball — the writers who witnessed it described it as strange, inappropriate, and unfunny.

      My point in this article is that for all the good that Mets fans remember about Bobby V., there were many not so good things as well — but everyone conveniently forgets the bad stuff.

  2. metsie October 26, 2010 at 11:16 am
    Mike it is highly doubtful Valentine learned anything since he left since his experience since then has been in Japan which treats the Manager like a god which is why he never had issues there! If anything he has only gotten WORSE with all of his quirks being re-enforced by the demigod status that was thrown at him in Japan.

    As the article states (and thanks to the JJ for posting what I have been saying regarding Valentine for months now) He has no chemistry with anyone who has earned respect and is ideal at getting things out of young guys who don’t have the resume to talk back to him.

    If we were selling the house and building from the farm then Valentine might be a decent short term choice. But with guys like Wright, Beltran, Reyes, Bay, and K-Rod this is not the team that Bobby will be able to work well with.
    In Fact if you really want K-Rod to assault someone again then by all means have Bobby manage this team!

    His managing and negotiating via the press is well documented. Why do you think there are so many rumors about where Bobby might manage and where he has WITHDRAWN his candidacy. Who do you think is putting those in the press? The teams?

    Bobby is ALWAYS all about Bobby until things go bad and then it’s someone else!

    When it all goes to hell it’s the coaches, the players, the GM, management but when it all goes well it’s all Bobby who did it!

    We have had enough circus for one decade and millenium haven’t we?

  3. Mike Fichera October 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm
    Holding his players accountable through the media isn’t the best of ideas but it is better than not holding your players accountable at all.
  4. Brooks October 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm
    “Oh? you forgot that Bobby V. publicly criticized fan favorite Alfonzo for focusing too much on his next contract, rather than his on-field performance?”

    that kind of thing is exactly why I DO want him to manage the Mets again. these guys need that. there’s too many selfish premadonnas on this team and they need to be punched in the face by some public criticism. stop babying these guys.

    • Joe Janish October 26, 2010 at 5:27 pm
      “Babying” players has nothing to do with publicly feuding with them / calling them out in the media. And there is no evidence that taking player/manager issues public leads to better performance.

      Do the Yankees ever publicly lambast their players? Did Bobby Cox, or Tom Lasorda? Does Charlie Manuel, Terry Francona, or Bruce Bochy?

      I can’t think of too many consistently successful managers who regularly air their dirty laundry. Maybe Ozzie Guillen?

  5. Adam October 26, 2010 at 3:33 pm
    Mets fans like Bobby V. because he’s an overachiever. Period. It’s not that he went to the World Series — it’s that he won the pennant with a “million-dollar outfield” of Timo Perez, Benny Agbayani, and Jay Payton. He always did more with less, always gave the Mets the best matchups. That’s why Mets fans like him. Period.
    • Brooks October 26, 2010 at 3:46 pm
  6. Mark Rak October 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm
    It seems some are forgetting that it was that narcissist Steve Phillips who, after 2000, decided he didn’t need Bobby’s input on personnel any longer. Against Valentines wishes, Phillips brought in Vaughn, Burnitz, Alomar, D’Amico just to name a few. And when Valentine couldn’t win with those players, ownership sided with Phillips. That firing cost the Mets and their fans an iconic, long term manager like a Torre or Bobby Cox. Not to mention the teams credibility….which basically has been lost ever since.
    • MrZoSo October 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm
      Mark: Was posting and did not read your post. Completely agreed. Could not articulate it any better. Nail to head.
  7. MrZoSo October 26, 2010 at 4:11 pm
    Bobby V is something that does not exist today…A difference maker. He can actually WIN you games instead of losing them for you. Which todays managers are VERY good at (losing). Valentine means a lot to fans who remember EVERYTHING that happened. I remember him in the parking lot loading, and unloading trucks during 9-11. I loved Valentine for out managing the genius Tony La Russa as if he was taking him to school. Not to mention who was the GM at the time? A serious issue was Phillips trading away good talent for the likes of Billy Taylor and using Bobby V as a scapegoat for his own behavior. What could the manager do? Nada…Sit on his hands and manage the best he could with what he has.
    Yeah, I remember just fine. We screwed up and let the wrong man go. That’s what I REMEMBER! And yes, damn right, I want him back.
  8. greg2169 October 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm
  9. Victor October 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm
    Boo hoo
    Bobby V didn’t always play nice nice with the media. Sounds like JJ has his own axe to grind with Bobby V which has nothing to do with his managerial skills. I would take my chances with him in a heartbeat.
    • Joe Janish October 26, 2010 at 10:29 pm
      Wow Vic, talk about selective reading!

      The media issue is but one of several myths dispelled here. And if you read through to the end of the post, you would see that I actually would like Bobby V. to manage again. No axes here.

      The reason Valentine won’t manage the Mets in 2011 is not up to me — this article was about the reasons the Wilpons, Saul Katz, David Howard, Sandy Alderson, etc., will not allow him to be hired.

      • MrZoSo October 27, 2010 at 12:22 am
        That completely contradicts what Jeff Wilpon said when asked about Valentine at the press conference. I believe the load from the Post asked him the question. Granted he wasn’t naming the manager, but he clearly stated he was on the Mets short list of those being considered.
        • Joe Janish October 27, 2010 at 10:39 am
          “… this completely contradicts what Jeff Wilpon said …”

          your point being?

        • MrZoSo October 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm
          My point is, they (ownership/management) are considering Valentine. Your article points out why he won’t be hired. Unless you are a mind reader, and know EXACTLY what these gentleman are thinking, evidence states otherwise. As in: Jeff Wilpon’s statement saying Valentine is on a short list of those considered.
        • Joe Janish October 27, 2010 at 10:49 pm
          No, they’re not. What Jeff says and does are two different things, based on what he’s said and done over the past 5+ years.

          But if you want to believe Bobby V. is a candidate, good for you — enjoy that while it lasts. Jeff may also have the Brooklyn Bridge up for sale, if you’re interested in submitting a bid.

        • MrZoSo October 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm
          Hey if it makes you feel better, you have my email?…Once the Mets announce the new non-Valentine manager you can give me a shout and tell me how stupid I am for arguing he is/was a candidate. Or did you do that already? Until then, I will follow your astute advice.
  10. Andy October 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm
    I like Bobby V for a lot of what he did, but I do think throwing your players under the bus is inexcusable, regardless of whether the person doing it is Bobby V or Jerry Manuel.

    If you have an issue, you deal directly with your player. We know from 2 years experience with Jerryball that airing dirty laundry only makes things worse.

  11. CatchDog October 27, 2010 at 8:32 am
    I’ve always like Bobby. When he’s doing commentary for ESPN, MLB or whoever, he is articulate, gets to the point and is usually right on with his analysis. The fact that he’s got a sense of humor too is a bonus.

    Bobby would be a godsend after having to deal with Jerry and his paper thin gangsta schtick and his “ummm, ahhhh, ummm yeah well, ummm ya know, ummm we just ahhh gotta ummm play better” pressers.

  12. SIMP October 27, 2010 at 9:25 am
    Joe, I liked Bobby V (and I still want him back) for all the reasons you just said I shouldn’t.

    Did you ever think that he became a fan favorite BECAUSE he stood up to ownership & trash talked an organization that clearly can’t get out of its own way, called out players for being greedy, and told reporters to buzz off?

    All of these problems have grown even further out of control since Bobby left in 2002. Ownership is dumber and more stubborn than ever, the players are more coddled than ever, and reporters are more of a clubhouse nuisance than ever.

    Baseball needs more Bobby Valentines. And the Mets need him (with all his flaws and baggage) now more than ever.

    • Joe Janish October 27, 2010 at 10:42 am
      SIMP, I also liked Bobby V, and still want him back. Again, this decision is not up to me and you are preaching to the choir. This post was not my opinion as to why Bobby shouldn’t be hired, it was an explanation as to why he won’t be hired.

      Sandy Alderson does not want a manager with an ego — he wants a soldier who keeps his mouth shut and takes orders. He does not care what the fans want.

      • MrZoSo October 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm
        So0ooo…I guess we learned today that Alderson is a big fat liar just like Jeff huh?
        Or maybe the media insiders have a bit to learn before posting sources/opinions close to the subject. That’s a possibility also.
  13. Walnutz15 October 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm
    Sounds like Vee’s goin’ over to Milwaukee.
  14. robdog October 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm
    Met fans love Bobby V because he is the only manager we have had who refused to live in the shadow of the yankees. He wore his Met colors with pride and a whole generation of met fans were able to raise thier head up to that team accross town. Is he arrogant,stubborn and sarcastic? Yes on all counts but while we were battling the yanks and braves you always felt you had a chance with him. Unlike the overpaid dogs we have now which lay down at the site of any adversity…..So if Met management has accustomed themselves to kissing the Yankees rings they will hire Bob Melvin.
  15. mic October 30, 2010 at 9:57 am
    i did not like BV. I thought he was a SUCKER to bobby Cox…who routinely pimped him. no matter WHAT the standings in sept..bobby would find a way to upend him.

    2. I remember 2002(? ) when BV was resigned DESPITE big rumors having him replaced by Dusty Baker.

    BV was good, but his personality masked his flaws.

  16. john November 4, 2010 at 8:17 am
    And no one wants to comment on the poor choice of a GM that they made?
  17. robdog November 4, 2010 at 8:36 am
    Right on John!! Left that one out with everything else he dealt with a publicity seek GM showing up his own manager. As far as managing Bobby Cox pimped a lot of people easy to do that with Maddux,Smoltz,Glavine..Everyone seems to forget he out managed the genius Larussa and beat Dusty baker with B.Bonds in 2000