Valentine meets with Red Sox brass

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Valentine meets with Red Sox brass

BOSTON The Red Sox interviewed their sixth managerial candidate Monday. The question, though, is: Will he be the final candidate?

Bobby Valentine met with general manager Ben Cherington in what was called a formal interview setting. Valentine initially discussed the open manager's job with presidentCEO Larry Lucchino and Cherington earlier this month. Lucchino and Valentine were on the panel in Hartford at a forum on international baseball Nov. 3.

Larry left Ben and I together for a good part of that time, Valentine said. We did the discussion and basically Larry said, Hey, Ben thinks we could move forward with you. We might continue the process. Thats when I started thinking of it.

Valentine is the most recognizable candidate and the candidate with the most experience.He managed for eight seasons with the Rangers and seven with the Mets, compiling a record of 1117-1072. He also managed in Japan, and won the 2005 Japan Series with the Chiba Lotte Marines. He is currently an analyst for ESPN.

But Valentine is not without a share of controversy, including run-ins with former GMs and players, and a collapse with the 2002 Mets. He was fired at the end of that season.

Hes had really good experiences, Cherington said. Hes been to the top, and hes had other experiences that havent gone as well. But no one whos managed in the big leagues -- or very few, I cant think of anyone -- has had all good experiences. Thats not how the game works. Former manager Terry Francona hadnt had all good experiences before he got to Boston. He worked out really well.

Asked what hes learned since his last major-league managerial stint, Valentine replied:

I wish I had a good answer for that. One thing, you can't teach experience. If all your experiences could be good, wed live in thisfairylandthatFenway Parkis built around. You can't. Ive had bad experiences that I hope Ive learned from. Ive had good experiences that I hope I learned from. Some of those bad experiences I think I caused. Some of them were caused by the surroundings. Some of the good experiences, I had something to do with them and some of them I was just happy to go along for the ride. I hope like hell Ive learned from whatever experiences I had.

I hope I'll change for the better because I never won a world championship when I was inNew York.

Valentine said he could not consider managing without a balance of scouting and computer analysis.

We know we need to have people who see people and we also need to have people who can understand what those people actually do, he said. I was an advanced scout. I worked with scouts, with minor-league organizations . . . I was weaned on the concept of statistical analysis as a manager. I think they're both very important.

During the interview process he was asked to watch game video, offer analysis and determine what his in-game decisions might be.Valentine, 61, is a native of Stamford, Conn., where he still resides and is the citys director of public safety. He is currently in the process of hiring a fire chief for the city. Valentine joked that he would like to use a similar format in his interviews for the city.

Valentine, like most observers, is aware of the reports of unseemly behavior by Red Sox players in the clubhouse during the season.

Discipline is not 30 whacks with a whip these days, but I think everyone likes discipline, he said. I think everyone likes structure and everyone again likes to be acknowledged when they do things properly. When they dont do things properly . . . most people, and athletes in particular, like to be noticed that theyre not doing things right. So when you talk about discipline and rules and all that, its just about right and wrong.Its just about an expectation of a person whos representing a great organization like the Boston Red Sox, a passionate committed team like they have in the front office and in ownership, expecting them to know the difference between right and wrong, on the field and off the field and when they're talking to you and when they're living their life. Thats the discipline thing I try to bring to a team.

Valentine said he talked with a couple of his mentors, including Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda and Lou Lamoriello, presidentGM of the New Jersey Devils who is also in the hockey Hall of Fame and Cape Cod League hall of fame. Lamoriello coached Valentine in the Cape League.

Theyd disown me if I didn't give it my best shot, Valentine said of his interview with the Sox. I sweat the whole day. I havent been as nervous for anything in a long, long time. It was invigorating, challenging and stimulating -- all those good things.

Cherington said while he had hoped to have a decision by Thanksgiving, that isn't likely. Cherington said he is now hoping to make a decision next week, before the winter meetings, which begin Dec. 5 in Dallas.

That hasnt happened, he said. But more important we need to get it right and take the time necessary. You never want to rush it.

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

Drellich: MLB could explain umpire rulings more often

BOSTON — We know that Red Sox manager John Farrell did something wrong. In the absence of any sort of formal announcement otherwise, we’re left to assume the umpires did everything properly — but there’s room for MLB to make that clearer.

If the NBA can put out Last 2 Minute reports, why can’t MLB provide more regular explanations or reviews of contested calls?

Farrell on Tuesday said he’d like to see more public accountability in the umpiring realm, hours before the manager was to sit out Game No. 77. Farrell was suspended one game for making contact with crew chief Bill Miller on Saturday night as manager and umpire rained spittle on each other over a balk call that went against the Sox.

Well, was it a balk or not? Did Miller do anything wrong as well?

“I don’t know if there was anything levied on the other side,” Farrell said. “I don’t know that.”

But would he like such matters to always be public?

“I think there have been strides made in that way,” Farrell said. “I guess I would. I think everyone in uniform would prefer that to be made public. Whether or not that happens, I don’t know, but that would be a choice I would make.”

The league has a thorough internal review system. But it is just that: internal. Most of the time, any way.

On most every night at Fenway Park, there is someone on hand watching just the umpires and reviewing them.

MLB, to its credit, has announced suspensions for umpires in the past. The league has made public acknowledgments when calls have been made incorrectly. More of that seems viable — even if it’s an announcement to reaffirm that the call was made and handled properly, and here are the reasons why.

“I haven’t received any further determination or review of what transpired,” Farrell said. “My position, my stance, remains steadfast. I still firmly believe that time was called [before the balk call was made]. I wasn’t arguing the balk. I was arguing the timing of it. As I reiterated today to those that I spoke with, I still stand by my side of the argument. Unfortunately, there was contact made.”

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

Drellich: Hanley Ramirez has to improve or Red Sox need to try others

BOSTON — It doesn’t really matter what’s holding Hanley Ramirez back: his health, his desire to play through injuries, neither, both. The Red Sox need him to hit better as the designated hitter, or give someone else a chance in his place.

Tuesday is June 27. From May 27 on, Ramirez is hitting .202 with a .216 on-base percentage and .369 slugging percentage.

Putting Ramirez on the disabled list so that he can heal up, or at least attempt to, would be reasonable. If you can’t hit well — if you can’t even be in the lineup, as has been the case the last two days — you're hampering the roster.

Ramirez was out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday because of his left knee, which was hit by a pitch Sunday. He’s been bothered by his shoulders all season.

“He’s improved today. He’s responding to treatment,” manager John Farrell said Tuesday of Ramirez’s knee. “He’s still going through some work right now. Would get a bat in his hand here shortly to determine if he’s available to pinch hit tonight. Prior to yesterday’s game, day to day, and still in that status, but he is improving.”

The route to better production doesn’t matter. As long as the Sox get some, be it from Ramirez or somewhere else. Flat-out benching Ramirez in favor of Chris Young or Sam Travis or both for a time should be on the table.

When it comes to lineups vs. lefties, Farrell might be thinking the same way. 

Farrell was asked Tuesday if he’d consider playing someone at DH other than Ramirez for performance reasons.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Farrell said. “Where he was so good against left-handed pitching last year, that’s been still a work in progress, for lack of a better way to describe it. So we’re always looking to put the best combination on the field.”

A right-handed hitter, Ramirez is just 5-for-35 (.143) vs. lefties this season, after hitting .346 against them a year ago.

On the flip side: in the final three months of the 2016 season, Ramirez hit .300 with a .379 OBP and .608 slugging percentage overall. That’s from the start of July through the end of the regular season vs. all pitchers.

“You know, the one thing you can’t completely turn away from is what Hanley did last year,” Farrell said. “While I know that’s last year, we’re still working to get some increased performance from him. I think he’s still a key member in our lineup. The presence he provides, the impact that he’s capable of. And yet, we’re still working to get there.”

Farrell said the team hasn’t been able to pinpoint a particular reason for Ramirez’s struggles vs. southpaws.

“No,” Farrell said. “There’s been extensive video review. There’s been extensive conversations with him. There’s been stretches, short stretches, where he’s I think shown the approach at the plate and the all field ability to drive the baseball. That’s been hit and miss a little bit. So, we’re just trying to gain a consistency that he’s been known for.”

Mitch Moreland's been playing with a fractured big toe in his left foot. After he homered and had another impactful night Monday, Farrell made some comments that are hard to read as anything but a message to Ramirez.

“In [Moreland's] most recent stretch, he’s been able to get on top of some fastballs that have been at the top of the strike zone or above for some power obviously,” Farrell said. “But I think the way he’s gone about it given the physical condition he’s in, is a strong message to the remainder of this team.”

Asked about that comment a day later, Farrell shot down the idea he was trying to reach Ramirez or anyone else with that remark about playing hurt.

“No,” Farrell said Tuesday. “I respect the question, but that was to highlight a guy who has been dealing with a broken toe, continues to perform at a high level and to compliment Mitch for the way he’s gone about it.”

It doesn't matter why Ramirez isn't producing, at a certain point. Either he is or he isn't. If not, they need to be willing to give someone else an extended look, whether it lands Ramirez on the DL or simply the bench.