There has been growing concern that if hired Bobby Valentine would clash with General Manager Mark Shapiro. In all actuality, Valentine is exactly what Shapiro needs. How often does a winning, experienced manager publicly admit his desire to take on the challenge of 90 loss team stuck in a small market?
Valentine has experience in taking losing teams and turning them into winning ones. He went to Japan and brought back a Chiba Lotte team that had not won a pennant in 21 years. That sounds exactly what an identity starved team needs. Cleveland has the tools to win: loads of prospects, a solid minor league system and a front office that is looking for a leader to support.
Valentine has the ability to identify young players to draft that would be helpful to the team and which are not helpful. He was quoted once as denying a player prospect status as he was too old. He knows players, especially young players. The Indians are loaded with great young players at every level from the majors on down. What the Indians have struggled with is drafting and signing the young prospects to draft and sign. They have only been able to identify those on other rosters. Valentine can help augment that.
Yes, he does have a strong personality. Yes, he conflicts with those higher in the food chain. The reason he is such a tough character to get along with is he cares so intensely. Would someone who didn't care for his team put on a costume and sneak back to check on his team? A caring, intense manager is just what the doctor ordered.
Cleveland has options. They cast a much wider net this time around. They have their AAA manager (and former player) Torey Lovullo, former batting champ Don Mattingly, and former Washington manager Manny Acta. But, if they desire a manger with a winning history, a history of turning franchises around, success identifying and developing young players and an intense desire to win, they will choos Bobby Valentine.
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