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Bobby Valentine, Executive Producer, But What’s Next?



By Mike Silva ~ October 17th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Big league manager on two continents, ESPN broadcaster, civil servant in Stamford, CT and now executive producer is a term you can use to describe Bobby Valentine. The man that seems to have his hand in just about everything made an appearance on Saturday at the Hamptons Film Festival. His latest venture is a film called Peltotero, which examines the journey of two Dominican ballplayers or peloteros, Miguel Sano and Jean Batista, as they attempt to get signed by a big league club on their 16th birthday. Along the way you see the culture of Dominican baseball, corruption, and ultimately the end result as Sano signs with Minnesota for over $3 million dollars, while it’s discovered that Batista committed age fraud and is suspended for a year before taking a huge pay cut to sign with Houston. Just like he tried to create awareness about the issues in Nippon Professional Baseball when he was the subject of the ESPN film “The Zen of Bobby V,” Valentine is attempting to bring awareness about the issues facing a population that represents 20% of big league rosters.

If you think Valentine’s role as an executive producer is just something to put his celebrity name on, think again. I was told by others that worked on the film that he dove into the project with the same intensity that you have seen from him at the baseball diamond. Remember, this is the same guy that coordinated relief-efforts from the Shea Stadium parking lot after 9-11. Bobby Valentine doesn’t do “figurehead.” Directors Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin, and Jon Paley talked about the value of having access to Valentine’s wealth of baseball knowledge.”He’s just been invaluable to us,” said Paley. “His knowledge of how baseball works, and his insight into some of the things that don’t appear on the surface. He has a great baseball mind as Mets fan know.

I arrived at the Maidstone Hotel to meet Valentine and discuss the film for my Sunday radio program. Bobby V may not be as big in the entertainment industry as other luminaries like Susan Sarandon and Matthew Broderick, who were on hand discussing projects of their own, but make no mistake he has just as big a presence. For ten minutes we discussed the challenges of Dominican ballplayers, his former third basemen taking over the White Sox, and whether he will manage again. When I asked him if the new “Moneyball” front office, which demands too much vertical “command and control” from the top-down, is an impediment to his reentry into baseball, he reminded me that he was practicing “Moneyball” twenty-five years ago. “In 1986 I had a sabermetrician on my staff (Craig Wright), and he was there through the time I was fired,” Valentine reminded me. “For people to think the whole world has changed because a movie came out or because a book was written is not the case at all. Everything’s remained the same.”

I spent just 20 minutes in his presence but you got to see how diversified he is. Keeping his attention is not an easy thing as he is always doing multiple things at once and thinking two steps ahead. Not all that different than what we saw from him in a big league dugout. One minute we are talking baseball, the next he asks me how far we are from Montauk, all while being attracted to the skyline artwork on display since his son, Bobby Jr., is an artist out in Texas. We talked about the ’99 Mets, one of his favorite clubs he managed. When I said his tenure was fun “even though it didn’t result in a championship,” he reminds me that a National League Championship shouldn’t be overlooked. After the interview he complimented me for the intelligent dialogue and questions. I have been complimented before, but when Valentine does you know you have accomplished something. It’s at least in the top five of my personal compliment Hall of Fame. Remember, this is the same individual who is not easily impressed, especially by those in the media.

When I asked the inevitable question about managing again, one that every reporter will throw at him during the day, he was non-committal about his future, but did you give you a hint about where his mind is at. “There is 30 teams. They all are single minded. They want to do things different. They want to do things for their organization that make them special and different. If in fact there is someone who wants me to be part of that specialness I’ll probably will be in uniform again and if not I will keep on enjoying my life.”

Those around him believe he will manage if the right situation arises. Thus far, it hasn’t. Teams want young, cheap, and controllable and Valentine is none of the above. It was brought to my attention the Red Sox have a working agreement with Valentine’s old NPB club, the Chiba Lotte Marines. With the departure of Terry Francona and more importantly, Theo Epstein, you can’t discount the possibility of something happening in Boston. However, I get the impression he is content with his current broadcasting role at ESPN and helping run a production company. He doesn’t need to manage a baseball team if the situation doesn’t fit him and has the right foundation of success.

I don’t understand how it’s been almost a decade since he’s been in a big league dugout. Any owner or general manager should look at those Mets rosters from ’97-’02 and it will tell them all they need to know about the job he did with that club. Benny Agbayani, Matt Franco, Roger Cedeno, Todd Pratt, and Jay Payton were all key component players. All excelled under Valentine in a way that you didn’t see after they left New York. He always seemed to know how to maximize the talent on his roster and put players in positions where they would be successful. Yes, there were guys that hated him, but there are so many more that seemed to excel playing for him. Doing what is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.

If not in the big league dugout wouldn’t he be the perfect individual to be the next commissioner of baseball? You hear names like Joe Torre and George W. Bush, but what man would be more hands on than Valentine? Who knows more about baseball than Valentine? He’s managed on two continents and just helped produce a film about the fastest growing population in the game today. He wasn’t afraid to tell the Japanese baseball hierarchy how broken their game was, even though to do so in that culture is heresy. His zeal to make a difference in the Far East instead of just managing a baseball team probably hastened his departure.

Alas, it probably would never happen and just another crazy idea in a long list I have thrown out there. Valentine’s polarizing personality probably wouldn’t sit well with a good portion of the 30 owners. Unfortunately baseball, much like our government in Washington, is more about the status quo than real change. You don’t need a lesson in government to see how dysfunctional our political leaders are, just examine how baseball conducts its affairs and you will learn all you need to know.

Again, if ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analysis and sports films is what the we receive from Bobby Valentine going forward, I can’t help but wonder how a resource like that is being undervalued. With so many weak field managers and a commissioner that needs a committee to figure out a playoff system, you can’t help but wonder what Bobby Valentine could accomplish if someone were smart enough to just give him the opportunity and get out of the way. Moneyball is about undervalued assets. I certainly believe you have one that spent a Saturday amongst Hollywood instead of where he belongs: a big league dugout.

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To listen to Bobby Valentine discuss the film Pelotero you can download last night’s show here and fast forward to the 13-minute mark.

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You can check out more about Pelotero at the official website

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I did a write-up about my takeaway from the film as well.

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During last night’s show I also talked about how Mets fans need to start putting the whole “amazin” and “believe” mentality on the backburner. All that philosophy has given them is a couple of flashes of success followed by long dry spells. I said this summer neither are principles to build a successful foundation on.

That is why I believe Sandy Alderson should take a hard line stance on Jose Reyes and David Wright

Make Jose Reyes a “take it or leave it” offer in the vicinity of 5 years and $100 million. If they can’t come to an agreement on a deal during that 5-day window of exclusive negotiation, then let him walk and it be known that it no longer is available; even if he comes back later in the offseason. Not having the Mets in the mix might drive down his market price. You think teams are just going to give him 7-years because they want to? That may be the differentiation between their offer and the home team.

This worked with Mike Piazza. Yes, Reyes won’t be receiving an offer that will make him the highest paid player in the history of the game, but a $20 million dollar per year contract puts him in the same stratosphere as Derek Jeter. If it’s not enough than let him see if Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, or some nutty team like Washington wants to give him more.

If I were an owner no positional contract would go over 5 years unless the player was really special and someone to build around. Pitchers would be no more than 3 unless you are talking about a top 5 ace in his prime. Reyes, although very good, doesn’t fit into either of those categories.

I go one step further and see what I can obtain for David Wright. You hear Colorado, Arizona, and maybe Boston will be interested in his services. The Texas Rangers traded Mark Teixeira to Atlanta and received Matt Harrison, Elvis Andrus, and Neftali Feliz. All three have played a major role in their back-to-back AL pennants. They also received Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and although he didn’t pan out, it just adds to how good the process with that deal was. The pain they suffered in 2007 has led to pieces that are part of a sustainable winning environment. Not a “hope” or “believe” season, but a stretch that is deserved because of the good process and principles in place. They didn’t fall in love with Teixeira to keep the homegrown player love fest going with the fans. What would the fans of Arlington prefer now? Homegrown Mark Teixeira or another AL pennant?

It appears that Jose Reyes and David Wright are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I know why this situation exists may anger you, but its reality and you can’t fight what is in front of everyone.  Another time in team history and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. If moving forward from both is how this organization takes 5 steps forward, then I am all for it. It’s painful to admit the reality of the situation, but as I said before what is right isn’t always popular and what is popular isn’t always right.

If three years from now the Mets are in playing in the NLCS what will you be thinking about? David Wright and Jose Reyes, or the team in front of you.

You don’t give either away, but there is life after both and you can’t be afraid to move on.

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In case you were wondering Jose Reyes after the All Star Break hit .305 with 4 HRs, 12 RBI, and 9 stolen bases.

Does that sound like a 7 year/$142 million dollar player to you?

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To hear Mark Simon of ESPN NY and I discuss those topics and other Mets related stuff download last night’s show here and fast forward to 37-minute mark.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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7 Responses to Bobby Valentine, Executive Producer, But What’s Next?

  1. Chuck

    You have a problem with a 7/142, but not 5/100?

  2. Chuck

    Cashman decides to take Angels job, new manager cans Girardi, and Valentine is new Yanks manager.

    Wishful thinking, I know, but a guy can dream, can’t he?

  3. Stu B

    I’m not sure Valentine will manage again. There must be a reason he continually gets passed over – probably his abrasive personality.

  4. Chuck

    “There must be a reason he continually gets passed over – probably his abrasive personality.”

    What makes you so sure he’s being passed over?

    Isn’t it possible he’s being offered jobs or interview requests and he’s just saying no?

  5. nym

    The Texeira deal is more of the extreme than the norm. Most often teams don’t get nearly that much and deals don’t work out nearly as well for teams trading the star. Look at another team/player featured pretty prominently in this post season…Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera.They got him for a bunch of prospects, some thought to be really top guys (particularly Miller and Maybin), and none of them have really panned out, Florida ended up dumping both guys within a few yrs.

    Assuming trading Wright will work out as well as trading Teixeira is setting yourself up for disappointment,

  6. spike

    Not to mention that part about Wright not being nearly as valuable as Teix was when traded. Moving Wright at the bottom of his value (and with 30m remaining for 2 years) ain’t gettin’ you back much.

  7. M's Fan

    From what I’ve read, the biggest reason he isn’t managing right now is most teams have not wanted to match the money ESPN is paying him. I would love to see him manage again, but the idea of Valentine as commissioner doesn’t make sense. A commissioner must be extremely political and works directly for the owners. That does not seem like a fit for Valentine at all.

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