|Unraveling the mystery of Bobby Valentine and his bench coach||09.20.12 at 12:00 am ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For two days, ever since it was learned Tim Bogar would be interviewing with the Houston Astros managerial job Wednesday, Bobby Valentine has offered a similar answer when asked about the situation.
Tuesday prior to the Red Sox’ game against the Rays: “Well that’s what he wanted during the winter – that’s what his dream was to get the exposure with us so he could get noticed by other teams. I saw, he was talking to [Former Astros general manager] Gerry Hunsicker out there. Nice connection all the way around. I hope it works well for him.”
Wednesday on The Big Show: “Tim got to be the bench coach here after we had a discussion where he felt like he was being passed over for those opportunities because he didn’t have a position of status. He convinced me he could do the job here. I put him by my side. He’s gotten the exposure I guess he needed to have this interview. I think he’s well-connected there. I know he loves the game of baseball. I’ve been around Tim along time. I would love to see him have an opportunity at the next level.”
So, without specifics regarding Bogar’s aptitude as a bench coach, or potential major league manager, from Valentine, the question was asked prior to Wednesday night’s game: What made you pick the 45-year-old?
“I don’t know,” Valentine said. “I can’t really remember exactly. He was here. He knew the team and the organization, so that was a step up. And I knew him. I don’t really remember.”
The question was also surfaced regarding if Valentine had interviewed anybody else besides Bogar and Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo.
“I don’t remember. Interviewed?” he asked. It was reiterated that the question was in regards to any potential candidates for the job. “A lot of people called about it,” he said. “I had a long list of really qualified guys. It’s a coveted position.”
According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, this is the reality regarding Bogar’s hiring:
Valentine only interviewed two candidates for the position — Lovullo and Bogar — but was allowed to bring others in if he saw fit. There were phone conversations between the front office and other potential fits, but Valentine didn’t push for any of the candidates to be added to the list of interviewees.
When asked whom he wanted to hire as bench coach after the process was completed, what was Valentine’s answer? Bogar.
The dynamic between Valentine and Bogar hasn’t been a comfortable one for much of the season. But it hasn’t been because of any power-play by the Red Sox’ front office.
The Red Sox manager’s comfort level regarding a position Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon identifies as “a very ambiguous title” was much higher with Tom Robson, who served as Valentine’s bench coach both with the Mets and in Japan. It has just been a bad fit. But that doesn’t mean Valentine should be averse to identifying some of Bogar’s positive qualities when asked about his candidacy in Houston. He did, after all, like him enough to have a say in hiring him.
As Valentine said of Bogar, “He convinced me he could do the job here.” But it is unlikely that the primary motivation for Bogar winning that job was to get “the exposure” the manager has chosen to prioritize when discussing the Houston situation.
“I think it’s very important,” said Maddon, a former Angels bench coach, of the job. “The role of the bench coach is contingent on a couple of things. No. 1, whomever the manager is, how much he wants to relinquish that role to this guy, and given him the authority to do his job. And on the other side it’s having the bench coach who seizes that opportunity and runs with it, develops an outline of what this job is on his own, because it’s a very non-defined job. It’s a very ambiguous title. I think it’s a combination of those factors. A manager who wants him and uses him, and a bench coach who seizes and defines it in a way that makes him valuable.”
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