Just say no to Bobby V.

One of the most interesting things I’ve read lately in the papers and on the blogs has been the slow drumbeat for the return of Bobby Valentine as Mets manager. All these people who should know better, who blast the Mets for repeating their same mistakes over and over again, are clamoring for them to return to the not-too-distant past in bringing back the flawed Valentine.

Why?

Can you really go home again? Can you reheat a souffle? Can a torn relationship be made whole again? Experience tells me probably not. Valentine had his chance, and in 1999 and 2000 had playoff teams that fizzled out. Yes, they reached the World Series in 2000, but after blowing Game 1, they were essentially done.

VALENTINE: Returning to the past not good for Mets' future.

VALENTINE: Returning to the past not good for Mets' future.


Could Valentine without Steve Phillips work? I doubt it. Valentine is a lightning rod for controversy and in much the degree of Billy Martin, a quick fix. He energizes at first, but then things regress. He does not sustain.

As bad as Jerry Manuel was this year, it must be remembered the team was in first place until injuries sacked the season. We can’t say with certainty the Mets would be in the playoffs had they stayed healthy, but they were headed in that direction.

Manuel definitely has shortcomings, but the season was so hideously fractured by injuries it would have been unfair to not give him another chance. Remember, it wasn’t Manuel’s fault the Mets didn’t have the reserves to bring up from the minor leagues or to make a trade.

Yes, Manuel should have handled some things differently, but the argument can be made many of his mistakes were made because he didn’t have any other options. I’ve not been shy in listing what I didn’t like, but looking at things objectively, I can see his reasoning.

Given the same situation, I don’t believe Valentine would have been any better. I’m not sure anybody could have been any better.

For those wanting Valentine, it must be remembered no championships were won during his tenure, and that reaching the World Series was in large part because they didn’t have to face the Atlanta Braves in the playoffs that season.

From what I remember about the Valentine Era is there was always a controversy. There was always a distraction. Valentine was constantly at odds with somebody, whether it be his general manager, a player or somebody in the media. Valentine liked to play people off of each other and the clubhouse was about taking sides on one issue or another.

Those wanting Valentine either have short and selective memories, an agenda, or don’t know what they are talking about.

In the long run, we’ll need 2010 to see if Manuel is the answer, and odds are he’ll get a short leash because of the impatience that comes from being in New York. But, the Mets have been there and done that with Valentine.

A return to the past would not be good for the Mets’ future.

22 thoughts on “Just say no to Bobby V.

  1. While I can accept your case about Valentine,. i think the drumbeat is really for new leadership. I don’t buy your logic that Jerry should come back and be on a short leash. He is coming back, but its a rpeat of the same mistake made after 07. Randolph should have been gone then, not the next June and Manuel should be gone now not next June. Manuel’s team played poorly fundamentally from day one indicating nobody paid attention in spring training. That was on him, not iuries, Manuel sold his players out to the press regularly that had nothing to do with injuries. Manuel made moves for no reason for many players, benchings for no reasons, changing roles out of the blue, putting Castillo in the 8 hole for a long time… and on and on. All indications of a guy who either didn’t run things well or didn;t get his message across, if there was one. So we will see Jerry in April but it is the wrong move.

  2. Disagree, JD. The Mets had a perfect opportunity to bring back Bobby V and they just BLEW it.
    Jerry Manuel is a good man, but for all his emphasis on fundamentals and the fabled 80-pitch drill, the team didn’t respond.
    Bobby V should’ve been borught home to the Mets where he belongs.
    His methods and thinking are unconventional — just what an adrift organization in need of solutions needs.
    Bobby V is highly intelligent and a winner. Look at his track record: He has accomplished something no other Mets manager ever has — steering his team to consecutive post-season appearances.
    And the Mets deciding to bring back the same cast of coaches (except for Sandy Alomar Sr. and Luis Alicea) is a grave mistake.
    OK, I can see the rationale for keeping HoJo, in that the Mets somehow led the NL in batting average, but Dan Warthen?
    How do you justify keeping a guy whose pitchers led the league in walks and compiled a miserable team ERA while pitching half the season in a pitcher’s park?
    Razor Shines? If he mismanaged his third base coaching duties as badly as he did this season, is it wise then to make him bench coach, where his decisions take on more weight and make more impact?
    Randy Niemann?
    Why bring him back after the bullpen wasn’t too much better than in ’07 and ’08? Sean Green managed to be worse than Aaron Heilman, Bobby Parnell was mostly bad and no one stepped up to be a decent lefty alternative to Pedro Feliciano.
    This team needs drastic changes after a drastic year — not more of the same.
    The Wilpons should’ve cleaned house, starting with Omar Minaya and started anew.
    Hiring Bobby V would’ve been a smart first step in rebuilding the foundation.

  3. I disagree with you significantly on two points:

    1. I have NO interest in Jerry Manual returning for this team. Yes, he probably “deserves” a chance with a team that was not riddled with injuries and having such issues, but he did a HORRIBLE job with the team he did have and while he may have been fine if we didn’t have the other issues, that doesn’t excuse the way this team has played for the last stretch.

    2. I think BV would be a perfect fit for the team overall, honestly what we would get from him would be exactly what this team needs. Yes he would probably go out in flames 4-5 years again, but for NEXT YEAR, I think he or someone of his ilk would be the only way to save next season. We need someone to make this team play and kick it in the rear. Clearly that instinct is not going to come from the players that have been assembled, so the manager is going to have to make it happen. Jerry is not doing it.

    I am extremely upset that we are changing NOTHING about this management that has achieved nothing and seems to be content with it.

  4. (2) I’m in agreement regarding the coaching staff. Not only did the staff under achieve with Warthen this year, but there’s a chance someone like Dave Duncan will be available after the playoffs. Yet another of those strange moves that always seem to follow the Wilpons.

    As for Bobby V., Delcos is right on the money. For all his baseball acument, Bobby is lacking in people skills. He was voted the most hated man in baseball, players on his teams, as well as others, detested him and his very presence scared away potential free agents.

    According to legend, no one would touch him after his tenure with Texas, except the Wilpons, with whom he had a personal relationship. This legend further suggests that his one-year hiatus from the Mets minor-league system in 1995 was imposed by the Wilpons because he allegedly assaulted a customer at his restaurant.

    Upon his return to the organization in 1996, Bobby landed the big-league managerial job late in the season under the most interesting of circumstances: Incumbent manager Dallas Green had a clause in his contract by which the Mets had to notify him by a certain date whether they intended to renew his contract; when that date came and the team indicated that a renewal was not in their plans, Green asked to be fired. The Wilpons, according to legend, then instructed Joe McIlvaine to offer Valentine a one-year contract to manage the team. Valentine accepted and, according to legend, returned the favor by getting Joe Mac fired within nine months.

    Valentine’s subsequent years with the Mets were characterized by nearly non-stop fighting with the GM he helped get appointed, Steve Phillips, as well as with his own players. That whole episode with the Wharton speech will go down in the annals of Met history.

    Delcos is right: Say no to Bobby.

  5. So now we are going to judge a man by a legend? Nobody here knows why Mcilvane was fired. If was any good dont you think he would have gotten another GM job? Now hes back to being a lowly scout.

  6. I wouldn’t object to Bobby V but I’m not marching in the streets to bring him back. Maybe he can get invest enough money with Lenny Dykstra so he can be rich enough to own the team which is were the real problems with the Mets.
    Wilpon/Doubleday never brought back Davey Johnson who won a title, preferring instead the likes of Torborg, Green, Bobby V, etc. So I’d be surprised if they did. Leaving out the constant rehiring Steinbrenner did with Martin, Lemon, Piniella, etc how many teams have ever rehired a manager? The Orioles did with Earl Weaver in the mid 1980s. The Blue Jays have with Cito Gaston. In the NFL Ted Marchibroda had two stints with the Colts.
    Al Arbour had two with the Islanders, Red Holzman with the Knicks. Bobby Cox with the Braves.

  7. (5) Here’s your clue: Tony Attanasio, the agent for both Valentine and pitching coach Bob Apodaca, held a meeting during the middle of the 1997 season with his two clients and Freddy — i.e., in typical Wilpon fashion, the chain of command was ignored and no GM was present. The basic message was that Valentine and Apodaca were on one-year contracts and wouldn’t be re-signing with the organization if Joe Mac were still the GM. That’s a coup d’etat.

    As for Joe Mac since then, the whole nude beach thing really put a damper on his upward mobility — but you knew that already, right?

  8. These are facts: Bobbys first full year, 1997 He brought the Mets back to respectablity with an over .500 record. 1998 They missed out on the playoffs during the last weekend. 1999 playoffs. Beat dbax,lost to bravos. 2000. Playoffs beat Giants, beat Cards, Lost in 5 to yanks in WS. 2001 after a lousy start the Mets had a late summer charge and almost overtook the Braves.

    Now remember he did most of this with the Million dollar outfield, A pitching staff led by Al Leiter and Benitez as closer. He got no help from the infamous generation K.

    He told Phillips to get Suzuki, that he was one of the best players in the world. Instead Phillips got us the immortal Shijo. I would be fighting Phillips too. 2002 came the Mo Vaughn era.

  9. 7. No I didnt know about a nude beach. Maybe you can provide a link to that story.

  10. The only good news i saw today was that the mets are going to interview Wally Backman for a minor league managers spot.

  11. (9) From USA Today, April 19, 1999:

    Twins: Minnesota assistant general manager Joe McIlvaine is a former divinity student who was caught in less than divine circumstances last week when he was arrested in Hutchinson Island, Fla. Sunbathing nude on a public beach. McIlvaine was face down in the sand when he was apprehended.

    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/colrod80.htm

  12. 11. Thanks for sharing that. You could say then that Wilpon made a wise decision to get rid of this guy before he emBAREASSed the organization.

  13. Wow! Turned out to be a big day for the new face of the Mets. We fired the first base coach who did what wrong??? What does any first base coach do anyway? And we fired the bench coach who obviously was whispering bad thoughts into Jerry’s ears thereby making Jerry make all those bad managerial moves. And we kept Warthen because leading the league in walks allowed is goof? And we kept Omar because after failing for 5 years and failing in Montreal beofre that, he is gonna change miraculously, and we keep Jerry because he is afterall more entertaining than Willie was or art Howe was. Season ticket sales should go skyrocketing now.

    Sadecki: What is with all the love for Backman. What’s he done since 86?

  14. (8) Here are some more facts for you:

    1997 — In his first year on the job, Bobby did all in his power to undermine a trio that had, arguably, had the best offensive season in Met history the year before: Lance Johnson, Bernard Gilkey and Todd Hundley.

    Also in 1997, when staff ace Pete Harnisch was being treated for depression, Bobby was good enough to tell the media that the righty was “on suicide watch.”

    Johnson, who had amassed 227 hits the previous year, was dealt in August, chiefly because Bobby didn’t like him.

    Gilkey, who had one of the greatest offensive years in Met history and had just been rewarded with a five-year contract, became another player tormented and eventually driven out of town by Bobby.

    Hundley, coming off a season with 41 homers, was exposed in the press by Bobby for having “a sleeping problem,” a thinly veiled reference to the player’s alcohol trouble.

    You can make the argument whether a manager is entitled to restock his clubhouse with players of his liking, but in each of the four cases noted above, Bobby took a special delight in not only undermining the players on his own team, but lessening their trade value for his GM.

    1998: Bobby’s team folded the final week of the season when a wildcard berth was all but guaranteed.

    1999: Bobby’s team almost folded again, only to be given a second life with a one-game playoff against the Reds.

    As for Bobby’s talent, he had two closers in Benitez and Franco, and, arguably, two of the better set-up men in the game in Wendell and Cook. He had the greatest infield in team history with Olerud, Alfonzo, Ordonez, Ventura and Piazza. He inherited players like Hundley, Gilkey and Johnson — and got nothing out of them. And when his GM brought in veteran players, like Bonilla, Derek Bell and Billy Taylor, Bobby made sure they didn’t produce for him, either.

    Bobby would rather lose with Matt Franco and Timo Perez than with Bobby Bonilla and Derek Bell. It all comes down to the psychology of Bobby: Star prospect whose collision with a chain-link fence relegated him to journeyman status. This left him embittered against stars and a champion of journeymen. Great news for a small-market, low-budget team; horrific news for New York.

  15. The manager of the team with the worst fundamentals in all of baseball, coming off a last half of the season where the team quit on him, does not deserve a reprieve. Manuel should have been fired.

  16. 14. What did Gilkey,Hundley and Johnson do after they left the Mets? not much. Fat Bonilla was Bobbys fault? The best one was Billy Taylor. He had a bad knee when Phillips gave izzy away for him. I guess that was valentines fault too. Derek Bell? It was a miracle they got a good half year out of him. He was just a throw in from the Hampton trade.
    That said, I will agree with you that his comments on Harnish and Hundley were inapropriate.

  17. 13 Chiti- I like Backman because he is an ex met. Besides that he has won everywhere he has mananged. He was a scrappy player and I think he would really stress fundamentals. He is used to working with young players. Why not give an ex met a chance? As much as I hate the yanks, I admire how they take care of thier ex players.

  18. I agree with James(3) above.

    Jerry has done nothing. We have all listed his issues. Not least of which is publicly flogging the players he doesnt like.

    The team is fundamentally unsound. So much so that only having a team full of home run hitters to cure the mistakes of the team will cure.

    We will not get that next year. The only choice is to play excellent D and pitch well.

    Our situational hitting sucks. We cannot get a man home from second or third.

    What is the team’s response? Bring back all the idiots that have contributed to the team’s poor play the past 3 years.

    We need new leadership. Someone who will kick some ass and take names. Jerry obviously cannot do that.

    Yes we have had injuries, but lack of talent does not mean sloppy, inefective play. That is lack of attention. If you will call some players out for being bonehead idiots, then do it to all.

    The only good step by the team was cleaning out Omar’s buddy. But that won’t right the ship.

  19. (16) There’s a real chicken-and-egg to these players: Did Bobby move them out because they weren’t performing or did they stop performing because of him? In the case of Harnisch, he bounced back to be a top-10 pitcher in the NL for two years after Bobby ran him out of town. Hundley, whose career by then was beset by injuries, ended up, like Harnsich, having a bounce-back year shortly thereafter; he would up hitting another 78 homers over his career. Johnson was hitting over .300 when traded and continued to do so with the Cubs; age eventually caught up with him. Gilkey had a bounce-back year in 2000, but he, too, was riddled by injuries.

    We can spend all day with woulda, coulda, shoulda — but Bobby did run guys out of town without allowing management to get enough value for them.

    Bonilla, you may recall, was acquired in a salary trade from the Dodgers, who acquired Mel Rojas (who, incidentally, was part of the return for Lance Johnson the previous year). While Phillips got the better end of the financials, as well as a guy they thought could play some rightfield for them, Valentine commented to the media on the day of the trade that Bonilla “couldn’t catch the ball in right.” Again, Bobby might have been correct in his evaluation, but he was dead wrong in his PR. He created a shitstorm with Bonilla before the player even showed up at camp with a bloated waistline.

    Billy Taylor? He wasn’t doing all that badly with the A’s that year, saving 26 games in a little more than half a season. In one of his first appearances, in Wrigley against the Cubs, Taylor had an a two-strike count on Glenallen Hill when the Cub slugger hit a screaming liner foul down the leftfield line. Bobby then ordered Taylor to intentionally walk Hill, based on the foul ball. I had never seen that before, and I’ve never seen it since; I’m guessing ditto for Taylor. Another example of Bobby throwing a player to the scrap heap.

    Derek Bell. Once he started slumping, Bobby abandoned him for the immortal Timo Perez. That’s another Bobby trademark: Once the vet starts to struggle, he finds a AAA retread to replace him with. I’m guessing Bell would have scored on Zeile’s drive off the wall in Game One of the WS.

    Oh and about Ichiro — in his unofficial advisory capacity to the Wilpons, Bobby also told the Mets to sign Kaz Matsui, calling him the “Japanese A-Rod” and speculating that he would become the best player in MLB.

  20. I dont think Bell would have scored since he injured his ankle in the playoffs. You and I disagree on Valentine. Thats fine. Hes not coming back anyway. I just feel that he did more with less. His teams overachieved for him. This current group have been chronic underachievers.

  21. I agree and disagree about the overachieving. On the one hand, his teams appear to overachieve because he gets stellar performances out of unsung journeymen-types; but, on the other hand, the baseball highway is littered with expensive veteran talent he got nothing out of.

    Perhaps Bobby is best suited to be a GM.

  22. Tiffany (19/21) You brought a lot to the table with these posts. I will mention them on the playoff post so maybe people will respond.-JD