Shortly after Bobby Valentine was fired by the Red Sox on Thursday, former manager Terry Francona, now an ESPN analyst, was on SportsCenter to share his thoughts on Bobby V’s short time in Boston and what the club should look for in its next skipper.
Specifically, Francona named four men he thinks the Sox should consider. Not coincidentally, all four were on his staff during his managerial tenure in Boston.
“I’ll give you four names,” Francona said (video above). “If this was my decision, this would be the direction I would want to go: John Farrell is a name that is already being thrown around. Now, he’s the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, so there are some issues there. (Orioles third base coach) DeMarlo Hale, well respected. (Former Astros manager) Brad Mills, well respected again. (Red Sox bench coach) Tim Bogar.
“All guys that have been working there in the past through the good times. They would immediately have the players’ respect -- and I am talking about (Dustin) Pedroia, (Clay) Buchholz, (Jon) Lester, (Will) Middlebrooks -- moving forward.”
Francona also offered advice for the next Sox skipper, some guidance that Valentine perhaps should have heeded during his season in Boston.
“You can’t be prepared for it. It’s 24 hours a day, every day of the week,” Francona said. “The biggest thing is you don’t need to go looking for news because it will find you. You have to recognize it is a little different animal and you have to try to create an atmosphere where the players can just play and not worry about the things on the periphery.”
“Regardless of what’s going on on the periphery, they have to go play. But in my opinion you try to make it as easy as possible for them to just do that. Put them in a situation where they can succeed, and then if they’re good enough they’ll be OK.”
Francona thinks Valentine’s inability to keep things in house made his job more difficult.
“The one thing that bothered me a little bit was that everything seemed to play out in public,” Francona said. “Again, there’s a lot of stuff that happens in the clubhouse during the year, and that’s not the worst thing. But you find a way to fight through (the issues) and make it better. And when you do it publicly it’s harder to do and that seemed to happen quite frequently.”
Francona added he was disappointed to hear Valentine say he felt undermined by some of his coaches during a radio interview on Wednesday.
“Those are some coaches with some pretty high integrity,” Francona said. “Different strokes for different folks. If I had a problem with a coach I would go tell him. I’m not sure I would choose to do it on the radio. But again, everybody’s personality is different.”
As for Valentine’s legacy, Francona thinks that could still depend on whether Valentine goes down swinging or fades into the sunset.
“I don’t know, and part of that will depend on how he decides to go out,” Francona said. “There’s going to be the postmortems. And I know all about that, that’s not fun in Boston. They always want to know the reasons and if they don’t know they’ll make some up. We’ll see what happens. ... From what I know, he hasn’t been real shy. So, this will be interesting.”
Finally, Francona looked ahead to the 2013 Red Sox, saying he thought the team was in much better shape than it seems.
“The glass is way more than half full than probably the normal Red Sox fan feels today,” he said. “You start off right away with (Felix) Doubront, Lester, Buchholz, (John) Lackey -- I know they don’t want to hear that, Lackey is coming back after Tommy John (surgery). That’s four pitchers right now, that I’ll take my chances with them.
“Andrew Bailey comes back healthy, Dustin Pedroia is a tremendous player. Will Middlebrooks is a star in the making. Jacoby Ellsbury a year ago was second in the MVP voting. So it’s not bare. Now, they have big decisions to make and they have some money to work with and they have to make good decisions, but the glass, in my opinion, should be half full.”