Valentine interested in Team USA job
Former Mets manager thinks his time in Japan would help in Classic
After two disappointing finishes in the World Baseball Classic, the United States will be looking for redemption during the 2013 tournament. The challenge of leading his country to international baseball glory is something that intrigues Bobby Valentine.
Valentine won 1,117 big league games with the Rangers and Mets, and he led New York to the National League pennant in 2000. He is currently in his sixth season as a manager in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines, whom he skippered to a championship in 2005.
Valentine has watched from afar as the Japanese have won each of the first two Classic titles by playing an aggressive yet disciplined brand of baseball. The 58-year-old told the New York Times he believes that his knowledge of the Japanese game and mind-set would help the American team, which finished in eighth place in 2006 and fourth place earlier this month.
"There would be some kind of value that I'd bring to the party because I'd know the talent, or most of it, from Japan," Valentine said. "I could do some things differently. I think the attitude would be different.
"I think [Team Japan] would be a bit worried about me against them," Valentine said.
The attitude of some American players, including those stars who chose not to participate in the event, is one of the reasons Valentine believes Team USA has not been more successful in the tournament.
"The attitude can change," Valentine said. "It seems like there's a little more passion and a little more desire to do your best from the Japanese players. It still seems, from far away, that some guys from MLB are saving their best for the season. I can understand that. I've had guys who can't get hits in April, never mind in March."
According to The Times, Valentine said he would interview players prior to the tournament to determine those who would be most willing to put in the extra work necessary to be successful in the Classic. He'd also do research to find the players who have had good career statistics in March.
Valentine has been critical of the World Baseball Classic in the past, particularly its use of pitch counts, noting that Japanese and Cuban pitchers would be able to reach 100 pitches from the start but are limited by the tournament's rules.
"If this is a real championship, why should there be any pitch limits?" Valentine said. "Do you think it is right that the rest of the world of baseball has to be told what to do by MLB?"
Valentine also believes the World Baseball Classic should be played in the winter, rather than during Spring Training.
"The real key is that pitching wins," Valentine said. "And if you continue to play this in the spring before pitchers -- MLB pitchers, that is -- are ready, it will be very difficult to win."
Valentine is unsure if he'll be available to manage Team USA in 2013, as even his future as manager beyond this season is uncertain. According to The Times, Valentine will earn $3.9 million this year in his final season under contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines, and it is unlikely he will be back in 2010 due to the global economic turmoil.
Ed Eagle is a reporter and editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.