When he goes to the bullpen, he goes to everyone in the bullpen.
He’s not afraid to head out to the mound to talk to a pitcher in the first inning, and he’s even less afraid to jump front and center into a baseball moment.
In three months, we’ve learned a lot about Bobby Valentine — and we’re still learning.
His players are still learning about him, too. There have been numerous reports that the team has been slow to warm up to its new manager. That’s understandable; he is the anti-Terry Francona. Francona was the ultimate players’ manager, a man who stood in the background and left his players alone.
Valentine is much more hands on. We’ve known that since day one of spring training.
What we didn’t know was whether or not Valentine’s methods would succeed.
Can we agree they have? He has taken a varied group of relievers with limited credentials and molded them into a unit that has the lowest ERA in baseball since April 23. That stretch began on the heels of Boston’s blown 9-0 lead against the Yankees, a day Valentine described as “rock bottom.”
Fans aren’t exactly jumping aboard Bobby V’s bandwagon. The anti-manager sentiment around here seems as high as it’s been in a long time. Probably since Francona’s first year in Boston.
You remember those days, right? Those were the days when Tito was called “Fran-coma” for not making enough in-game moves. Of course, those criticisms faded after he led the Sox to two championships in his eight years here.
Valentine has been criticized for making too many moves, for using his bullpen too often. In other words, he’s been criticized for being the opposite of what Francona was when he was in the crosshairs.
I think it’s time for fans to give the manager a little credit. He could not have done a better job molding the bullpen. He’s used 14 different outfielders, and yet has one of the top offenses in baseball.
He wanted Franklin Morales to be a starter. He looks pretty good on that front. He wanted Daniel Bard to be a reliever. Right again. He wanted Alfredo Aceves to be the closer. Three for three.
The Sox are right in the midst of the AL playoff race as they head to the West Coast. It has been a tumultuous first half of the season. Yet through it all the Sox have stayed alive.
Valentine deserves credit for his role in keeping the team afloat.