McAdam: Debunking three Valentine myths

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McAdam: Debunking three Valentine myths

BOSTON -- Bobby Valentine has been so many things -- standout amateur baseball player, manager, broadcaster, competitive ballroom dancer -- that, even at 61, it's difficult to get a clear picture of him.

Making matters more complicated is that few people are neutral about Valentine. Valentine has both his ardent supporters and a seemingly equal number of vocal detractors -- and not many who are in-between.

In the last five days, Valentine has gone from stealth candidate to potential Red Sox managerial frontrunner.

Whether he's hired or not, here are three myths about Valentine that require debunking:

1) He's a winner.

That would depend on your definition of "winner."

It's true that Valentine's career winning percentage is .510 (1117-1072) over 2,189 games in the big leagues.

But a closer look reveals that Valentine, true to his winning percentage, was more "slightly above-average" than "winner" in his two previous turns.

In his first manager's job, with the Texas Rangers, Valentine spent eight seasons in the dugout and never reached the playoffs. In fact, for a time, Valentine held the dubious distinction of having managed the most number of games by an active manager without once qualifying for the postseason.

Managing the New York Mets, Valentine had six straight winning seasons and twice took the Mets to the playoffs -- once in 1999 as a wild-card entry which lost in the NLCS to the Atlanta Braves and again in 2000, when he directed the Mets to the World Series (where they lost to the New York Yankees in a famed Subway Series).

In 15 years, Valentine managed a team into the postseason twice. Similarly, his teams cracked the 90-win plateau two times. His teams never finished better than second.

2) He wouldn't stand for the kind of frat-house behavior that sank the 2011 Red Sox.

Actually, Valentine twice oversaw teams which had some similar issues.

In 1999, as the Mets season was ending, at least two of the team's stars -- Bobby Bonilla and Rickey Henderson -- were otherwise occupied. In Game 6 of the NLCS, Bonilla and Henderson were in the clubhouse playing cards while the Mets tried, unsuccessfully, to force a Game 7.

Then, in 2002, some stories alleged that as many as seven players on the roster had smoked marijuana. Some, it was reported, hired limousines rather than take the team bus so they could smoke postgame.

When Valentine was fired after the 2002 season, owner Fred Wilpon said Valentine had lost control of the clubhouse and the players.

Given the late-season implosion the Sox underwent, complete with players drinking beer and eating fried chicken, Valentine undoubtedly had some explaining to do in his interview with Red Sox management and ownership.

3) At 61, Valentine is too established and too set in his ways to incorporate some of the new statistical metrics which the Red Sox employ.

To the contrary, Valentine has long been eager to incorporate advanced statistical data for in-game strategy, dating all the way back to his first major league managerial
job in Texas.

There, Craig Wright, a forerunner among sabremeticians, supplied him with data and Valentie embraced it.

At the time, Wright's information was rather basic; statistical anaylsis has grown mightily in the last 25 years or so.

But when you consider that some organizations still eye such data wearily, the very fact that Valentine was willing to incorporate such information as early as the mid-to-late 1980s signals a willingness to try new things and listen to what others have to offer.

Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

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Quotes, notes and stars: Red Sox make 'outstanding comeback' vs. Rangers

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers:

QUOTES

* “(Matt) Bush has tremendous arm, but what we’ve seen . . . I don’t know that there’s anyone that throws a hard enough to get it by Mookie [Betts]. Just lightening bat speed . . . The dugout erupted when he caught it.” - Farrell said on Betts’ ninth inning homerun.

* “It was an outstanding comeback. Just a tremendous character win tonight by our guys. The work that our bullpen did tonight was just outstanding. ” - John Farrell said following the comeback win over Texas.

* “Koji comes back after a couple of rough outings and was vintage Koji here tonight.” - Farrell said on Uehara striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save

* “The homerun. Without that homerun, you don’t get to that wild pitch.” - Jackie Bradley said on what the Red Sox dugout was more excited about in the ninth.

* “Winning, to me that’s everything. I definitely want to go out there and throw the baseball better. I want to win myself. But at the end of the day I want the Red Sox to win.” - David Price said following the Red Sox win, despite his inability to keep the game close throughout the duration of his start.

NOTES

* David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his fourth inning single. He’s now 12 for his last 36 during his 10-game hitting streak.

* Sandy Leon’s ninth inning double was his 12th hit of the year. He’s now 12-for-22 (.545) to start his 2016 campaign. Four of his hits are doubles and he also has four RBI. 

* David Price’s 2.1-inning start is his shortest with Boston yet. The lefty gave up a season-worst 12 hits -- the most hits he’s given up since May 8th last season in a 6.1 inning start.

* Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homerun marks his third in the last ten games.

* The Red Sox improve to 22-3 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a homerun following his 13th homerun of the season.

STARS

1) Mookie Betts

Betts had over three hours between his two base hits, but his second proved the most important. He launched a 2-0 fastball into left center, tying the game in the ninth.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley laced a homerun into the right field second deck to put Boston in striking distance at 7-4. In addition to knocking in two runs, he scored in the ninth after he walked, starting the ninth inning comeback. 

3) Koji Uehara

Despite struggling of late, Uehara was called on to close and struck out the side to seal the win. He was the final piece of the 6.2 innings of relief from the bullpen that came in one of Boston’s biggest wins of the year.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

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First impressions of the Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Rangers

First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 8-7 win over the Texas Rangers:

Boston’s offense is always in striking distance.

The Red Sox had an uphill battle from the get-go thanks to David Price’s tough outing.

But somehow they took advantage of Texas’ equally bad pitching—that just happened to be more spread out than Boston’s bad pitching.

If Jackie Bradley Jr. doesn’t earn a walk, or Sandy Leon doesn’t fight tooth and nail for a two-out double in the ninth, that Mookie Betts homerun can’t happen.

The Red Sox need another long outing from Steven Wright.

Obviously they’d prefer a strong performance -- but the knuckler may need to bite the bullet if he’s off Saturday night.

Boston’s bullpen has been used and abused of late, and needs some rest following the Chicago series and a 2.1 inning outing from Price.

Price continues to struggle against the Rangers in his career.

Even when he was able to walk out of the first with just the one run after a bases loaded double play, but couldn’t clamp down with two outs.

The biggest reason he struggled wasn’t his velocity—although it seemed down most of the night—but his location. He left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Texas is not the team you can do that with.

Although Price was bound to have a rough start, this start went worse than anyone could’ve anticipated. To say this was a bad start is putting it nicely.

Texas gave him a nice wake-up call. He still has room to grow.

Matt Barnes had a solid performance.

It wasn’t his best, but given the situation, he did well. First off, the Rangers are a very hot team and swing early in the count. Barnes left the ball up time after times, but only surrendered the one run.

Additionally, he entered the game far earlier than he’s used to -- in the midst of a blowout where his team was on the wrong end. That’s not an easy thing to walk into for a reliever, especially one who’s used to pitching late in tight ballgames.

He gave Boston a chance when the offense started to gain momentum.

Hanley Ramirez’s power continues to show.

Although he’s not hitting at the rate he did to start the year, Ramirez laced another homer against the Rangers Friday night.

This homerun may have been his most impressive, coming on a 1-2 slider away, driving it to straightaway center -- the deepest part of the ballpark.

Boston just saw what they look like when they almost blow games.

All season the talk around the league has been how explosive the Red Sox lineup is.

Well, the Rangers offense is right there with them. The league’s hottest team didn’t waist any time scoring, and had 15 hits before Boston pitching recorded an out in the fifth inning.

Although the Red Sox outslugged Texas late, they saw what a potent offense outside the AL East can do -- and how bad pitching can undo all of that.

Nick Friar can be followed on Twitter: @ngfriar