Chiba Lotte's fans wanted Bobby Valentine back in Japan for yet another year. Chiba Lotte management didn't want to pay him.
In Mark Shapiro's quest to hire a new manager, he has said that money won't be an issue. However does that mean money won't be an issue because they won't think of hiring someone that costs a pretty penny or they would shell out the cash for the right guy?
No one really knows and on that same confusion, no one really knows why Valentine would take an interest in Cleveland.
It isn't the ideal spot for someone who has gained the respect he has to actually consider. Cleveland is not a team ready to compete for a World Series in 2010 and maybe not even in 2011. That isn't to say Bobby Valentine has one interest in winning now, but it is surprising to some that Valentine would want to bother with a team that isn't ready to win.
Or you could look at it as the Indians being the best situation for any manager out there looking for a job this year. You may not win in 2010, but you won't have a job in 2010 either. Valentine though, as we all widely know, has ESPN as his safeguard.
Either way though, Valentine is set to interview with Cleveland Thursday, with Torey Lovullo going Friday and perhaps two more candidates next week. One is considered to be Don Mattingly and now that the Dodgers are eliminated, that could happen sooner rather than later.
Valentine is going to be the second man up in the process. You would think given his experience he would be the favorite and really that's the whole basis for his case to be the next Indians manager.
Experience to Last a Lifetime
When Mark Shapiro set out his guidelines for hiring a new manager there was one point he seemed to be aiming for. There was one trait he wanted his new manager to have no matter what and given the finalists, that is evident.
He wanted someone with major league experience. Sure his preliminary list had two coaches within the organization, Lovullo who is a finalist and Akron manager Mike Sarbaugh, but it was also filled with guys who have been to the big show.
It also appears Shapiro is looking for someone who's done the big job before.
Bobby Valentine has certainly done the big job and he's done it well at times.
Valentine just isn't an experience big league manager. He isn't just a big league manager either, as mentioned in the very beginning, Japan has had the pleasure of the witnessing the Bobby V experience.
He's someone who's managed at the minor league level, the major league level and the international level. He knows baseball like the back of his hand and he's seen a lot and done a lot. The guy knows what he's doing, point blank.
What argument do you have against that?
There is no argument against experience, unless of course the experience has been nothing but bad. But Valentine has won in the past. He won, briefly, at Texas, in New York and in Japan.
The winning in New York and Japan was brief, not as brief as in Texas. but the man has a knack for taking over a team and doing good things. He knows the game in and out, he has an eye for talent and he can flat out run a clubhouse.
The Indians wanted experience. They can settle for minimal managerial experience in Manny Acta or a good chunk of major league experience in Don Mattingly. Or they could grab the guy that has more experience as a professional manager than any of the other candidates combined.
No learning curve, no mistakes, none of that stuff that one of the other candidates may go through. Valentine will come in and bring that "I know what I'm doing, so listen to me" attitude. And if he can press that confidence and swagger onto the players, the team might even be more successful in 2010 than more people think.
Other Ways of Convincing
You know you are popular when the first auto-result that comes up when you start typing your name in Google is followed by something unique.
In Bobby Valentine's case, the term "bobby valentine disguise" is the first term that comes up after you complete typing his name. It doesn't stick at "Bobby Valentine or go to "Bobby Valentine managerial record" or "Bobby Valentine Mets." No, his popularity is so high because of that one moment in which he returned to the dugout in a disguise after getting ejected.
Experience is great, but popularity speaks for itself. It would be splash of all splashes to sign someone like Valentine to manage the Indians. There would be a buzz in Cleveland that might just generate enough interest.
How does that work on the baseball side?
You can make plain arguments, but I'd rather just leave it at that.
From a baseball aspect though, there is plenty to pick from.
Valentine would bring a fresh set of eyes to the Cleveland organization. As someone who's dealt with developing talent and has been around the game for so long, Valentine knows what works and what doesn't.
There are legendary stories about things he's done and how spot on he's been about players. And being the outspoken man he is, if he sees someone or something he's going to tell Mark Shapiro.
This is an organization that is to believed to be cohesive in their thinking. Most fans think Mark Shapiro had Wedge around as some sort of a "Yes Man" to agree with all this moves. Of course, whether that's true or not, Shapiro disputed that notion and said that he and Wedge did not always agree.
We don't really know the inner-workings of Shapiro's brain or his intentions. We also don't know why Bobby Valentine has had problems with Tatsuro Hirooka, the general manager of Chiba Lotte, and former Mets general manager Steve Phillips.
So how would a guy who is presumably looking for a "Yes Man" work with a guy who's had past issues with two of his bosses?
I don't buy into the Shapiro notion, so I personally don't see an issue here. I think Shapiro would be open to bringing in someone as much as an outsider as Bobby Valentine is. The question is does he want to bring in someone who is not afraid to speak his mind and stick to it to the very end?
Again, I don't think he would care if it betters the team. Valentine would be someone who could come into the meetings and challenge the thinking the Indians have had. Has their thinking worked? In some ways it has, in other ways it has failed miserably. Shapiro has shown he's willing to change in the past and I don't see how this would differ.
He's shifted his player scouting and development personnel, also known as the people scouting and drafting players after numerous failures in the MLB Draft. Many thought he would not fire Eric Wedge, even after this season, yet he did it. When the issues with the bullpen arose early in 2009, to continue a continual problem, Shapiro took a radical approach to changing things.
People may not want to hear it out of their disdain for him, but Shapiro is willing to change for the team to be successful and Bobby Valentine would be one radical change in an effort to do that.
You cannot argue with the success that Valentine has had in every stop he's gone to. Has it always ended on the best terms? Arguably, no it hasn't. But Valentine has made a different everywhere he's gone. If it turns out to be something that isn't long term, but has some short term success, then it would be a good hire.