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November 30, 2011

The BP First Take

Wednesday, November 30

by Daniel Rathman

According to multiple reports, the Red Sox reached an agreement with Bobby Valentine on Tuesday that will make him their manager. Valentine is expected to be introduced on Thursday.

One of the immediate reactions when the news broke was that the choice showed President Larry Lucchino wresting power away from new GM Ben Cherington. Both Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports took that view, citing past clashes between Lucchino and Theo Epstein to suggest that Boston's front office may be unstable.

It may well be that Lucchino will exert more influence over, or put less faith in, Cherington than he should. But the decision to make Valentine the Red Sox's new manager is hardly clear evidence that that's the case.

When choosing a manager, teams look at two things. The first is each candidate's ability to handle the roster he's provided, which the GM must evaluate. The second is his ability to serve as the primary liaison between the team and the media, which--in a frenzied market like Boston--is largely up to ownership.

Morosi indicated that Cherington initially wanted Dale Sveum, who was later hired by the Cubs, after failing to impress Lucchino and John Henry. Jon Heyman tweeted that when the race came down to Valentine and Gene Lamont, Cherington may have preferred the latter. Yet neither shows that Valentine is a disagreeable choice to the new GM.

If Cherington's chief criterion is for his manager to share a similar philosophy with his own, then there's no reason to believe that he and Valentine will butt heads. During his time with the Mets, Valentine was open to modern ideas, such as emphasizing OBP" data-scaytid="22">OBP over speed at the top of his lineups. He has no history of abusing pitchers, and nothing in his past that would indicate a concern with, say, trusting Daniel Bard to be his closer.

At the same time, there is plenty about Valentine that made him an attractive candidate from Lucchino's perspective. The Red Sox were said to want an experienced skipper, and--though he hasn't managed in the majors in a decade--Valentine has an extensive resume. He has managed in a big market, and knows how to navigate the media, a skill enhanced by his time working for ESPN.

Hence, there is much more about Bobby Valentine for Cherington and Lucchino to agree on than to quarrel over. Those looking for signs of the latter stepping on the former's shoes will need to keep looking.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

Related Content:  Jon Morosi

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