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Kevin Millar on M&M: Bobby Valentine has to ‘create some kind of fear’ in players

11.30.11 at 1:26 pm ET
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Former Red Sox player and current MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar joined Mut & Merloni to give his take on Boston’s imminent hiring of Bobby Valentine as manager.

While it was reported last week that the managerial search had come down to Valentine and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont, Millar said that Lamont never really had a shot.

“I think the writing was on the wall for the last couple of weeks,” Millar said. “I don’t think Gene Lamont was going to be in consideration at that point, and when I saw those two names, I thought Bobby V. was going to be the guy. It was just a matter of time and what goes on behind the scenes.”

Added Millar: “I think this will be a good situation for the Red Sox.”

It has been speculated that Valentine’s more hard-line approach toward players will be difficult for some of the Red Sox to adjust to after playing for Terry Francona. Millar said that while Valentine’s personality can hurt him, he might have changed since last managing in the MLB in 2002.

He hasn’t managed in, what, the last 10 years in the big leagues? We can all learn from our mistakes,” Millar said. “There is an ego there, that’s a fact. I think that’s Bobby’s downside. I think that’s what makes him not appealing to other clubs. But right now I think the man’s 61 years old, and of age, you get smarter, you learn some stuff, he’s been able to sit here and analyze the game on television. He’s coached in Japan for six years. He brings some of that fire that I think the city likes to see.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On how Valentine will deal with the players: “He wasn’t liked at times. But as a manager, you don’t have to be liked by everybody. I think you have to create some kind of fear. You have to fear somebody when you play this game.

“The best approach is to treat men like men, these are dads, these are baseball players, these are great athletes. There are some situations that need to be tightened up, whether that’s the conditioning situation, whether that’s the eyes in the clubhouse situation. One thing I don’t want is snitches. What happened with the [John] Lackey and the [Josh] Beckett and the [Jon] Lester, and all this stuff about beer and chicken: snitches. I don’t want anybody snitching.”

On how Valentine should deal with Carl Crawford after his rough season and if he should tweak his batting stance: “You’ll lose a lot of guys that way. You can’t come in and tell guys they can’t hit. ‘€¦ Carl Crawford’s hit for a lot of years in this league and hit a lot better than Bobby Valentine ever did in his career with an open stance. There are some adjustments, there’s confidence things. I would work between the ears. Let’s work between the ears, let’s work on the mind. Hey coach, get Carl believing in Carl Crawford again. You are a bad man. Let’s get back belief instead of reading the articles in The Boston Globe or listening to radio shows and the negative stuff when you’re going through struggles. So, I would start working between the ears of Carl Crawford, not worrying about his stance.”

On how Ben Cherington may have been overruled by Larry Lucchino in the manager search: “Players know Ben. Ben’s a great guy. It’s Ben’s first few months as a GM. Everybody’s got to start somewhere. That’s the thing about experience; how do you get experience if you don’t get the experience? Well Ben’s getting his experience now. Did Ben have a hundred percent say on who is going to be the manager? Of course not. But it wasn’t just Larry Lucchino, either. You have John Henry, you have Tom Werner, you have Ben Cherington, you have Larry Lucchino. All four men sit around and they’re bouncing ideas off each other. So this wasn’t just Larry Lucchino hiring Bobby Valentine. Now does he have some say-so? Of course he does, as the team president. But I guarantee Tom Werner and John Henry also had some say-so. And they were very, very vocal by saying they wanted a manager with some experience.”

On David Ortiz not being signed yet: “I don’t understand why he’s not signed. I don’t understand why he wasn’t signed before the year was over. Now, it’s not my checkbook, not my money, but I’m a big Ortiz fan. The reason why I say this, let’s not forget for the last eight years now, this man has put this city on his shoulders, carried us to the promised land. 2004, 2003 ‘€¦ whatever it is, you won’t find a better DH in the league, period, hands down. You can’t replace a David Ortiz. And he’s an ambassador of that club, he’s a leader in that clubhouse. You lose his personality and you want to talk about the lack of personality that we always hear about. ‘€¦

“Let me tell you something, don’t lose Big Papi. This man can hit, this man goes through struggles like everybody else in the show, and I’m not his agent, but I’m a big fan of David Ortiz and I’m telling you right now, don’t get caught sleeping with losing ‘Big Lefty.’ ”

On losing Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies: “There’s a bunch of closers. You’ll never replace a Jonathan Papelbon. Jonathan Papelbon, I’m a huge supporter of him, also. Sometimes you get spoiled, like I always say, Yankees fans don’t realize how spoiled they are watching Mariano [Rivera] trot in to ‘[Enter] Sandman’ for the last 16 years. ‘€¦ Papelbon’s that guy. But OK, they couldn’t afford that situation. He went to Philly, got a nice four-year deal. His agents did a tremendous job, Seth and Sam Levinson, getting that deal. Now, we’ve got Heath Bell out there. This guy’s a few years older, but he’s a bona fide stud, great energy. I think it’s an easier task to replace a Papelbon with a Heath Bell than if you lose Papi, hypothetically speaking, to somewhere else and then you try to put ‘Who?’ in the DH role to hit 30 and drive in 100.”

Read More: ben cherington, Bobby Valentine, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon
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