Previously unknown interim manager
So some of the big managerial puzzle is coming together.
But plenty of intrigue still surrounds a virtual managerial carousel this winter -- especially where it concerns the colorful, controversial and brilliant
Valentine interviewed Monday with the Mariners and appears to be a strong candidate for a team with Japanese ownership, a Japanese star, a ripe farm system and admirers in its front office. Mariners GM
Florida appeared all but assured to give Valentine the manager's job last summer before someone up high put a halt to owner
The Mets appear to be a distant third or (fourth) on a list of possible destinations for Valentine now. Alderson is a longtime believer that the manager carries out the real decisions made by the front office, so Alderson's former A's manager
As for that Mets GM search, they added
Meantime, Gonzalez got the Atlanta job, which had been widely speculated since the Marlins fired him and basically assumed since he turned down a chance to interview with the Cubs.
One league source said he sees Wedge as a "virtual lock'' for a job offer with the Pirates, though that may be a tad strong. Either way, the Pirates are expected to act quickly and have been busy interviewing candidates, including Pittsburgh native
Ninety miles to the north in Milwaukee, Melvin, who also has been interviewed by the Cubs and Blue Jays, looks like the early favorite. He was the well-liked bench coach when
But Valentine remains the most intriguing candidate there. There is word that it has been suggested by Zduriencik's bosses in Seattle that he not hire his close ally Simmons, a bright man with an extensive resume (longtime player, former GM and coach) that includes no managerial experience. And that could leave Valentine as their man. While Valentine and Zduriencik overlapped a few years in New York with the Mets, they weren't close at the time (Valentine in particular wasn't close to Zduriencik's close friend
It probably doesn't hurt Valentine that it's well-known that superstar
Meanwhile, Valentine's chances to land in Florida might depend on an internal debate between Loria and whomever put the kibosh on Valentine last summer. Other candidates mentioned as possibilities in Florida include holdover Edwin Rodriguez plus ex-Marlins coach Bo Porter,
Baseball fans seemed overly focused on umpires during the division series, which shouldn't be such a surprise after last year's disastrous first round umpiring. But while there were again a couple of poorly-timed miscues, the umpiring was much improved this time around and doesn't yet seem likely to lead to an overhaul of the replay system -- though a couple additions to the system have a chance to be made.
The two calls that led to the first two managerial ejections of the postseason (
There have been a few other umpire bobbles, three in fact involving
Berkman already believed he sensed Wendelstedt's seeming preference for outside pitches that night when he took Pavano's inside strike that was called a ball, and Pavano (like Rays pitcher
But by the way, the ball-strike calls of
It seems to be open season on umpires, even where it's unwarranted.
The powers that be will enter with a decidedly anti-review slant, fortified by what they perceive as uneven support among players at best. Players union chief Michael Weiner indeed said player opinion runs a "spectrum;'' from leave replay alone to overhaul the system. Agent Scott Boras, though, said the issue is the new technology, which makes clear which calls are right and which are wrong, including the pitch tracker, which MLB execs acknowledge is pretty close if not right on and illuminates umpire misses. And he believes the integrity of the game is at stake. "Truth is more important than time,'' said Boras, who has about 100 clients. "You can't sit there and tell the fans it's chocolate when the television tells you it's vanilla.''
Baseball's powers will talk over the whole issue this winter. But like the games, Selig doesn't want the talks dragged out by things that will likely never come to fruition -- at least not yet.
• The Diamondbacks have plans to make changes at the corners, meaning third baseman
• The Mets had yet to call Rays executive
• The Mets have told coaches
• While the Yankees feel they have little choice but to give