Is Bobby Valentine the right fit for Baltimore?
Multiple media reports have come out in the last few days linking former manager Bobby Valentine to the Orioles vacancy. While Valentine is a big name option, I’m not so sure this is the right move for the team.
The Orioles are in disarray and definitely could use a strong leader to right the ship. But I’m not sure if mid-June is the best time to find that leader. Instead of having a long, comprehensive manager search you are now limiting yourself to people who don’t have a job, or those who are in your organization. While Valentine would probably still be on the short list this offseason, he won’t be the only name on it. There are always top young managing prospects available every season, which might not be a bad thing considering the youth movement and developmental time the Orioles need. They need a manager who knows how to get the most out of their talent and potential. Now that is not to say that Valentine couldn’t get a lot out of them, just to say he might not be at the top of the list. You also don’t know what other managers might be fired/resign/quit during the offseason. While it might be a bit more rare, you could pass up on an A-list manager this offseason by tying your organization to Valentine now.
Even if the Orioles truly believe Valentine is their number one choice regardless of who else may be available, I don’t think it makes much sense to bring him in as the every day manager now. For one thing he has no familiarity with the players, much less the minor league system. So while he will have all the scouting reports, and assistant coaches advice, he will be somewhat flying blind when making moves. Which is unfair to both Valentine and the team, as there is a much higher chance that those moves don’t work. In addition to being behind the curve in just about every area, Valentine will have to inherit not only the Orioles players, but their coaching staff as well. It’s bad enough that these guys are all in a lame duck position right now, but now they have to execute their jobs with Valentine in place.
Instead of rushing their manager search just to bring in a name, the Baltimore Orioles should focus on getting better on the field during this season. I think the problems they are having are more involved than just a new manager or coaching staff. They aren’t developing minor leaguers as they should (probably a good reason why their minor league managers shouldn’t be considered). And they right now have a talent deficiency and one that they can actually fix during the rest of the season. First they need to ensure they sign as many of their high upside draft picks as possible. Next, they need to be aggressive in the Latin American market this summer. An area they have long ignored, but are starting to make traction. Finally, they need to have a fire sale and trade away established Major League talent for young, high upside ball players. Guys like Millwood, Guthrie, Scott, Wigginton, as well as a few others should be on the block and moved. The Orioles know that even when those guys are producing, they aren’t a good team so they need to sell them while they can.
While this season has been ugly for Baltimore, their future is still fairly bright. They have a lot of young talent, and can easily add some more with the right deals. I think they should focus on the things they can control now, and worry about a new manager this offseason when the whole field is open to them.