February 16, 2012

Valentine: A Lot Of Players "Frowning" At Increased Activity

Bench coach Tim Bogar explains the new work schedule in camp - no more standing around:
[W]hat we're trying to implement this year is that they're all going to be doing some type of baseball activity at all times during practice, so there's not a lot of standing around. There's not a lot of dead time. ... I think what's going to jump out to them is all the skill work and the detail work that is being worked on constantly on all six fields down here. You're going to have your live BP, but you're also going to have guys working on pickoff plays, baserunning, reading balls off the bat, you're going to have guys standing in tracking pitches, and doing all kind of things. You're not going to see the normal stand around the cage, watch batting practice and stand in the outfield and shag. Instead of shagging players are going to be doing baseball activity which will benefit them in the long run. ...

[Valentine] said there wasn't going to be one emphasis. The emphasis is to play the game correctly in all areas. He doesn't want one thing more important than anything else. He wants everything to be emphasized equally and with the same importance. So when you talk about pitchers' fielding and their PFP, and you talk about cut-offs and relays and you talk about infield play, bunt plays, catchers' throwing … there's ton of areas that need to be worked on and improved and Bobby wants it to be emphasized exactly the same. There's not one area. If it's one area, it's the game of baseball.
It's impossible to argue with any of this. And it would be fantastic if this added activity would translate into better fundamentals during the season - outfielders hitting the cut-off man, pitchers covering first and backing up third and home, players not making bone-headed decisions on the bases - but I'm skeptical. Can a few weeks of extra drills overcome years of actual in-game practice?

Valentine claims that some players are "frowning" at the change of plans.
When I look at the program we devised, I don’t think of it as tough. But it seems it's different because a lot of people are frowning. I just asked them to give (it) a few days. We all know that no one likes change except for those who are making other people change of what that person want them to. I happen to be one of those guys who likes change because guys are doing what I want them to do. I would bet there will be 100 guys who won't really like it because it's change for them. But they'll get used to it.
If the Red Sox have a good April, Valentine will look like a genius. If they get off to another slow start, he will be blameless as the players will catch the heat for ignoring the manager and remaining tied to 2011's poor attitudes. It's all about the narrative.

The players are saying the right things to the media, however.

Clay Buchholz:
Sometimes when you veer off the path that you need to take, you need someone there to tell you, "Hey this is where we need to go and I see you doing this." In that aspect, it's going to be good for us.
Adrian Gonzalez:
One of the things I really like is that in spring training we're going to pay attention to a lot of details. Not just doing things for the sake of doing them, but actually doing them to get something out of it. ... Spring training is something that is really going to set the tone for the rest of the season, I think.
Valentine comes a little to close to "elegant gait" and "calm eyes" territory for my comfort when he talks about how to tell when players like Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias are ready to stick in the big leagues.
Sometimes how a guy walks through the clubhouse - you look at it, you can figure it out, you can almost see it. I don't mean once. But by March 20 or so, whether he thinks he belongs or the guys around him think he belongs, that's a part of it. You can see it.
Well, Bobby V better add a few clubhouse walking drills to the new schedule. Gotta make sure we swagger better than the Yanks and Rays.

Valentine also says he would like more games so he can better evaluate the players he has. Split-squad and intra-squad games are not as plentiful as in the days of yore "because there's a lot of lazy people in the game today".


johngoldfine said...

It sounds like a pretty dumb narrative to me: Some players are team players who appreciate structure, while others are frowning grumbling overpaid spoiled lazy brats....

Which will lead inevitably to some players being in the doghouse, a clubhouse divided pro and con Bobby V, and endless gossip, fingerpointing, and fodder for the sportswriters.

Why didn't he do what he wanted to do in spring training and shut the fuck up about some players' attitudes? Why does he want to make public his problems motivating people (because he wants to see the problem as theirs, not his [one thing you learn in dogtraining: the problem is always you and your lousy technique, never the dog])?

That shit about being able to tell a major leaguer from his 'tude. It is such shit!

allan said...

I also meant to include a link to this OtM piece: Brendan O'Toole's "Sunday Discussion: Sports as Morality Play"

Things (September 2011 is but one small example) cannot simply go bad because they went bad. We need to construct (or have someone in the media construct for us) a narrative that fits within our experience and prejudices.

(Plus, he gets points for using B-Ref as a verb.)

allan said...

I thought when Valentine referred to lazy payers he meant MLB as a whole, since he was talking about adding split-squad games to the schedule. You know, "kids today" -- heygetoffmylawn.

johngoldfine said...

I thought when Valentine referred to lazy payers he meant MLB as a whole...

I'm sure he was referring to MLB players as a whole--which connects to the dumb conventional narrative about how these guys should be grateful to get any pay at all for playing a kids' game!

When the Governor of Maine slags teachers for being freeloaders, he may not be talking about john a goldfine directly, but I still get pissed off. Why would a manager start with that lazy-kids shit unless he intended to go to war with his own team?

allan said...

I have no problem with a manager lighting a fire under the players' asses, but take issue when it is done in public by a guy who is still a week away from holding his first official workout. While I have not heard the interview, this sounds like Bobby Being Bobby, wanting everyone to know what he is doing behind the scenes, to either pat himself on the back or cover his ass.

Sidenote: I'm sure the writers are salivating at the prospect of a Bronx Zoo Jr. in Boston (or, at the very least, a free-speaking Valentine) this summer.

johngoldfine said...

Bobby Being Bobby--is that a JOS nickname? B3?

Always two ways to light fires: in the manager's office, one to one--or on the field in full view of thousands or to the press. I can't imagine the second way is anything other than a way to humiliate, and I can't picture any young millionaire responding well to being shown up by his own manager.

laura k said...

Why didn't he do what he wanted to do in spring training and shut the fuck up about some players' attitudes?

This is not the Valentine way. And one reason I cannot stand him.

I CANNOT FUCKING BELIEVE I will root for a team managed by Bobby Valentine. Cannot. Fucking. Believe.

laura k said...

PS: Still keeping an open mind, I promise!

laura k said...

We need to construct (or have someone in the media construct for us) a narrative that fits within our experience and prejudices.

This is true in every arena - sports, politics, business, many religions. It is true in people's constructions of their own personalities, what "made them" a certain way, be that their parents' treatment, their birth order, their ethnic heritage, or their DNA.

In sports, you see it on the micro as well as the macro level: what has caused hit streaks, hitting droughts, win streaks, you name it.

People have a deep need to fill in those gaps with whatever they have lying around.