Red Sox get the ball rolling
Valentine to be introduced today; coaching calls due
The details are done for Bobby Valentine, who yesterday agreed to terms on a multiyear deal to become the next manager of the Red Sox. He will be introduced at Fenway Park this afternoon.
For the Red Sox, the arrival of Valentine will mark the end of a stormy and uncertain three months that saw the team suffer a historic collapse, followed by the departures of manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein, then a prolonged search that resulted in Valentine emerging from a field of six candidates.
Now, finally, the team can turn to the future, having filled the fissures.
“It’s exciting,’’ second baseman Dustin Pedroia told WEEI. “Just excited to have a manager. It took a long time. I think the search is over and now we can all get ready for next year. And I bet all the fans are excited too.
“He’s been around. He’s done it before in a big market. So it’s going to be fun.’’
Under new general manager Ben Cherington and Valentine, the Red Sox will devote their full attention to constructing a roster for next season. Part of that will be reshaping the coaching staff.
Four members of Francona’s coaching staff remain under contract: third base coach Tim Bogar, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, hitting coach Dave Magadan, and catching instructor Gary Tuck.
Cherington said earlier this month that none have guarantees to be on the major league staff but some would receive “strong recommendations’’ once a new manager was in place.
Typically, when the team fills several slots on a staff, the manager is given latitude on some choices and other roles are filled by mutual agreement.
Magadan is likely to return for a sixth season given the elite performance by the lineup last season. The Red Sox led baseball in runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
The organization also thinks highly of Tuck, a five-year veteran of the staff. His role in the development of Jarrod Saltalamacchia is significant.
Bogar may not necessarily return at third base but is well-regarded by Cherington.
Hale, who has close ties to Francona, is up for a spot on Buck Showalter’s staff in Baltimore.
The most important hire will be the pitching coach, who will become the third in as many years. Curt Young, who replaced John Farrell after the 2009 season, returned to Oakland after a rocky season with the Red Sox. There is no obvious in-house candidate, although the Red Sox could turn to newly hired scout and instructor Bob McClure, a former pitching coach for the Royals.
Valentine is sure to have his choices. He has worked before with Dave Wallace, who was the Red Sox pitching coach from 2003-06. Wallace is now in the Atlanta organization but maintains a residence in Massachusetts.
Valentine believes that former All-Star David Cone would make an excellent coach, although the workload and travel are unlikely to appeal to him. Veteran pitching coach Rick Peterson would welcome an opportunity to return to the game. But his all-encompassing approach may not fit well with the Red Sox and their well-honed organizational structure.
Valentine certainly will want a close associate as his bench coach. One intriguing possibility would be his longtime friend and former minor league roommate Bill Buckner, who managed the independent league Brockton Rox last season.
Valentine would not be concerned with any negativity remaining from Bucker’s famed error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
One of Valentine’s former coaches in Texas, Dave Oliver, is a former Red Sox coach.
Once today’s news conference is finished, the Red Sox party will prepare to travel to Dallas Sunday for the winter meetings. Their agenda includes a meeting with Fern Cuza, the agent for designated hitter David Ortiz.
Ortiz is seeking a three-year contract, which could be unrealistic given his age and limitations. But he wants to return to the Sox, and Cherington has said he wants him back.
The Sox also need to address the holes in their rotation and bullpen and determine whether to sign a right fielder or give an opportunity to a developing player such as Ryan Kalish or Josh Reddick.
The Sox do not have the payroll flexibility they had last winter. But Cherington has enough wiggle room to make some moves via free agency or trade.
“The bottom line is that we are starting over, we got our manager, we are getting our team together and are looking forward to 2012,’’ Pedroia said.