11/20/11 5:15 PM EST
Red Sox to meet with Valentine on Monday
ESPN analyst brings plenty of managerial experience
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
Valentine not only becomes the spiciest candidate to apply for the position thus far, but also the most experienced.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and team president/CEO Larry Lucchino had both discussed the vacancy with Valentine on a more informal basis in recent weeks.
Valentine's candidacy picked up steam late last week. It had been speculated that Dale Sveum was the leading candidate to become Terry Francona's successor, but after a follow-up interview and lunch with Cherington and team ownership, the Red Sox said they might expand their search.
The Red Sox, it is believed, never offered the job to Sveum, and the Cubs hired him the next day.
Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin was the first to interview for Boston's managerial opening, but he was eliminated from consideration last week. Blue Jays first-base coach Torey Lovullo, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont interviewed for the job as well, and it is believed those three candidates are still in the mix. However, Lamont is the only person from that group who has managed in the Majors before.
Then there is Valentine, who has an expansive resume that includes 10 years as a Major League player and lengthy managerial stints with the Texas Rangers (1986-92) and New York Mets (1996-02).
Valentine, who seemed burnt out at the end of his Mets tenure, had renewed energy from a move to Japan, managing the Chiba Lotte Marines for six years. His Japan experience ended in 2009, and Valentine has been an ESPN commentator the last two seasons, drawing solid reviews for his baseball smarts and candor.
Valentine has long been considered one of the best tacticians around, but his opinionated nature sometimes left him embroiled in controversy, particularly during his time with the Mets.
It would be interesting to see if Valentine's style would be any different after not managing in the Major Leagues since 2002. Valentine is 61.
Though Cherington has expanded his pool to include Valentine, he said last week it wasn't because of dissatisfaction with the original candidates.
"I'm not dissatisfied with the candidates we have," Cherington said Wednesday night in Milwaukee. "It's just we feel like there are some unique circumstances here. This is not just any manager's job. This is one where we do feel we're ready to win, and there are challenges related to what happened last year and just generally in the Boston market, as you guys know. I've been very happy with the candidates, and our next manager could very well come from those candidates, but we're not ruling out adding to that field.
"I think we've learned a lot through the interview process -- we've learned a lot as we've sort of asked each other questions, both within baseball operations and with ownership, about what is it really that we need right now for this team?
"So through that process, it's sort of, I think, forced all of us to consider whether the current group, whether we're sort of looking at this in a broad enough way to really make the right decision."
Perhaps the situation will come into focus more after Monday's meeting with Valentine.
Cherington had originally hoped to have a new manager in place by Thanksgiving but recently acknowledged it could stretch into next week.
"Ben's in charge," Red Sox owner John Henry said recently. "I don't know what to tell you other than we're doing everything we can to move the process forward and make the right decision. It's not so much the timing for us as having the right person in place. That's what's important."