Since Jim Riggleman is still only the interim manager, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to speculate on the future of the job. There has been talk that Bobby Valentine is seriously in the running for the job of next manager of the Washington Nationals. So, just for fun, I wanted to take a look at him, and whether he would be a good manager for the Nats?
In terms of record, he has a pretty decent one. In two stints, he is 1117-1072, but he did much better in his second job, with the Mets. There he went to 536-467, and managed to make the playoffs twice. He finished second in the NL East, behind the Bobby Cox/Atlanta juggernaut, three times. Two of those times they managed to win the Wild Card (’99 and ’00) and in 1999 they made it to the NLCS where they lost (and you wonder why Mets fans hate the Braves so much). They of course made it to the World Series in 2000, where they got lost 2 close games early, won a third, and then lost 2 close ones. It was a great series despite the losses, as each team never outscored the other by more than 2 runs, and the total runs scored went to the AL New Yorkers 19-16.
So despite no World Series victories, Bobby V had a pretty decent run in New York, did win a pennant, which still has meaning in baseball, and left with a winning record despite sharing a league (NL East) and a city (NY) with 2 juggernaut teams. After that, he went to Japan where he has led the Chibo Lotte Marines in what was a return trip. He actually led the perennial losers to a 2nd place finish in 1995. His first year back, they won the pennant for the first time in 31 years and won the championship. His credentials are enough to suggest that he is a good manager, and can make a team a winner. That’s all well and good, but that isn’t the real reason the Nats should consider him.
Bobby V the Showman
He is, to say the least, a personality. This is something that the management here has lacked for a few years. Nothing against Acta or Riggleman, but they are not what you would call exciting. But Bobby V is guaranteed not to bore. He is loud, he is funny, he is somewhat abrasive, but he does it with sincerity and a love for the game, if not enough respect for some old school fans.
He’s got just a little crazy in him, which is probably something this franchise could use. I’m not talking Jim Bowden crazy. I’m not talking people hate it when he is around crazy. I’m talking endearing crazy. Bobby says he invented the freaking tortilla wrap. This is like saying he invented the question mark. Ok in fairness to him, he says he didn’t really invent it, but that people say he did. This is a man who may be most famous for getting thrown out of a game and coming back to the dugout with a fake mustache and sunglasses. He is a bit of a circus, he loves the camera and loves attention.
BUT, he is a very good manager. In New York he took a floundering team with talent and made it into a winner. When he finally got fired, their pitching staff was not really good anymore. As for what he’d do here, frankly, I’m not buying the story that this team is ready to win yet. Sure they have the 3-4-5 hitters, the center fielder and 1 starting pitcher. At most on top of that, you’ll get a good season out of Strasburg and Desmond as well, a healthy Flores, and a good FA starter. But it’s still not a contender. So they could give Bobby V a chance to do something and let him turn what they have in to something better. Imagine if people were actually tuning in to National’s postgame press conferences? They’d probably get better ratings than the games!
I guess my conclusion is that IF they do get rid of Riggleman (I like him, but it get the feeling that it’s woe unto the pitcher’s arms if he stays around) that Bobby V is a pretty good choice. The face of the franchise isn’t exactly the most media friendly guy out there (Zim is great, and he’s nice, but he isn’t loud), the clubhouse doesn’t seem to be boisterous. I’m sure there are characters on this team, but nobody enough to command real attention from people who aren’t already really interested in the team. I think Valentine could really help turn the heads of some more indifferent local fans who may actually start paying attention. I certainly would have plenty to write about, even if they lost 100 again…