The Case for Bobby V

4 Mar

By Jim Walters

Bobby Valentine managed the Mets from the end of 1996 through 2002. His record of 536-467 was highlighted by two Wild Card titles, an NL Pennant in 2000 and wearing a fake mustache after getting kicked out of a game. He also opened Bobby V’s, a Mets restaurant across the GCP from Shea which paid tribute the history of the Mets franchise.

Bobby V was fired in 2002 after a 75-86 record and finishing last in the division. While he managed the team, GM Steve Phillips has a lot to do with the make-up of the Mets, especially passing on Alex Rodriguez during the offseason. Phillips big move was Kevin Appier. I wonder why they only won 75 games.

Valentine went to Japan and won the Japan Series for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He was a hero in Japan, so much so that when he wasn’t rehired because of his expensive contract, fans protested in the streets.

Bobby V is now a commentator for ESPN and waiting for the call. He was seen sitting in the Mets dugout in Orlando when the Mets visited the Braves earlier this week. He spoke to Jerry Manuel in what’s a New York tabloid dream.

When Bobby V took over as Mets manager, he built a team around chemistry. They won 88 games in 1997 and 1998. With a full season of Mike Piazza in 1999, the Mets made it back to October and were known as the team that wouldn’t die.

In 2000, with Mike Hampton in the rotation, New York made it to the World Series to face the Yankees. Who knows what happens if Timo Perez keeps running or if Armando Benitez gets out Paul O’Neil.

In 2001, after the events of 9/11, Valentine led his team in an emergency response. When baseball resumed, the Mets surged in the standings. While they fell short, it was another example of Bobby V’s magic.

Fred Wilpon loves Bobby V., but the biggest issue hurting the manager is his personality. He is often controversial, speaking too freely. Bobby Cox, manager of the Braves, often said the team played harder just to beat Bobby V.

The other piece that hurts the manager is if Manuel is fired, it is likely that Minaya will be gone as well. Who the team’s new general manager is will have an impact on the next Mets manager. With Wally Backman also now in the Mets minor league system, he becomes the instant favorite to take the job.

Why Bobby V? We saw what Rex Ryan did with the Jets. He brought a new life and made the team relevant again.

Bobby V is a smart baseball man, and a better manager from his experience in Japan. He takes the pressure off of David Wright and gives the Mets a dynamic manager for the first time since 2002 when Valentine left town.

I believe he should be  manager already, but Manuel is still here as a sitting duck. A slow start and everyday may be Valentines day in Queens.

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