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Curt Schilling on D&C: ‘I was stunned by this [managerial] choice’

12.01.11 at 10:53 am ET
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Curt Schilling

Former Red Sox pitcher and current ESPN analyst Curt Schilling called into the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning to discuss the Bobby Valentine hiring. While some in town were excited by  the choice, Schilling said he was more surprised than anything that the Red Sox chose Valentine as their next manager.

“This one was just a stunning one for me,” Schilling said. “I didn’t see the fit. Personality-wise, Bobby’s a different bird. … He’s a different animal. He’s a smart guy. I had a chance to work with him this year at ESPN. He’s got some very interesting takes on managing. It just caught me off guard because when I think about the baseball ops people and what they want to do and how they want to do it here, I just didn’t see him being the guy that was on their list.”

Valentine is known as a manager who is not afraid to ruffle some feathers. While managing the Mets in 1999, Valentine was ejected from a game for arguing a catcher interference call, so he returned to the dugout later in the game in a fake mustache disguise. Valentine guided the Mets to some of their most successful seasons at the turn of the millenium. He was also responsible for an epic collapse in 2002 in which the Mets went 6-21 in August and 14-14 in September to finish last in the NL East. Valentine was fired after the season, and there were reports after the collapse of inappropriate behavior in the clubhouse during the season, something that may currently be too familiar to Red Sox fans.

Schilling said that while he was encouraged by Valentine’s proven ability to handle a big market in New York, he was concerned about the way Valentine’s career ended with the Mets.

“We all know that Boston is different than every place else,” Schilling said. “It’s not about just getting the team on the field and playing hard. There’s a lot of other things that come with managing here. I think Bobby is equipped to handle it. He’s done it in New York. But there’s a lot of questions around the fact that this is exactly why Bobby ended up leaving the Mets job. The thing that happened here this year happened in New York.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. On why he was surprised by the Valentine hire: “In my mind, there was a list of candidates and if there was 50 of them, he wasn’t on that … I didn’t see him as being a guy on their list as a target for them and what they want to do and with this group of players.”

On if the Red Sox changed their criteria because they were underwhelmed by other candidates: “I don’t think they were underwhelmed. I think Dale Sveum was their choice. I thought that Dale Sveum for all the right reasons was the choice and I thought the right choice. I’m still going to be an advocate for DeMarlo Hale because I think he’s … I think this guy is a legitimate and potentially very successful big league manager and should have gotten a lot more consideration than maybe he did. Maybe being too close to the situation hurt him.”

On who Valentine fit in with in the Red Sox organization: “I didn’t see the fit. The only person I think that I saw alignment with was Larry [Lucchino] and Bobby. Not that he doesn’t or couldn’t have alignment with the other two people who own this team, but I wasn’t seeing it. Again, when you think back through what the mandate might have been initially when they set out to do this, I thought it was a very different one than what they ended up with … And I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way but it’s going to come out that way, I thought someone was kidding when they first announced this, that he was being interviewed, because again, when I think back to the mandate and what the initiative might have been to change around at the end of last year and maybe going forward, Bobby Valentine is not the guy that I thought that this ownership group would be advocating for.”

On what the issues with bringing Valentine in could be: “The biggest problem is that if you’re reading ESPN.com, there are already players grumbling. There are players that are already bitching about the fact that this was a hire, so … it depends. Yes and no, but it doesn’t make his job any easier. Instead of coming in and top-to-bottom running through the organization and what they need to do, he’s going to need to manage some issues and he’s not even here yet.”

On Daniel Bard as a closer: The [Jonathan] Papelbon thing was a problem because of Daniel Bard in my mind. Because when Jon was here, you had for the most part, you had to beat a team for six innings or seven innings. I certainly think, he can absolutely do the job. There’s no question about that. But now you have to find someone to take his job. He was as good as anybody in the game if not the best in the game at bringing out a shutdown inning before the ninth inning. It just makes your bullpen shorter. Can he do it? Absolutely. There’s not another arm in the game like his. But I had always envisioned it as being a kind of transition into the role as opposed to starting the season in the role. That’s going to be another challenge because if he’s your closer and the season starts, he’s a young kid. There’s no harder thing than blowing a save. I thought he emotionally last year showed himself to be a little more up and down than you can be as a closer.

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