Valentine or Lamont: Red Sox face style decision

Bobby Valentine has the personality for Boston. But is new GM Ben Cherington sold?

What Ben Cherington and the Boston Red Sox brass must decide – and presumably they will in the coming hours – is if the big theater that comes with the big personality is worth hiring Bobby Valentine over the more staid and predictable Gene Lamont.

Valentine can be a wonderful motivator. And the Red Sox certainly appeared to lack motivation down the stretch. But – and Cherington knows this club – how might the veteran team respond to his heavy-handed tactics?

I guess it couldn't respond any worse than it did to whatever tactics Terry Francona employed in September.

The Red Sox – that being ownership, upper management and new general manager Cherington – expect to have their man in place by the winter meetings, which begin Monday in Dallas.

My belief is this will be too big of a job for a young manager, and certainly for a first-timer, so the Red Sox – by whatever process they used, including steamrollering Cherington – were wise to settle on Valentine or Lamont, even if it doesn't appear to be exactly what Cherington intended.

This will be a learning period for Cherington, too. And if John Henry and/or Larry Lucchino feel they must meddle for a time, they have that right. It's their club. It's Henry's money. That was their embarrassment last season. If it fails, however, it'll also be on their hands, which they pretty much avoided when Francona and Theo Epstein were between them and the baseball, which is why they just might be steering this winter.

I'm guessing they go with Valentine. Because he wins. And he looks good and sounds good doing it. The Red Sox certainly could use some of that. So they'll live with the theater.

Red Sox have moves beyond hiring a manager

Either way, the Red Sox have some big decisions to make and would like to have their manager in on a few of those decisions in Dallas, or at least sitting in the room when free agents' agents come through. The moving parts include the back end of the rotation, right field, designated hitter and the back end of the bullpen.

[Related: Passan's ultimate free-agent tracker]

In the meantime, they've gotten some play on Josh Reddick(notes), which might be one way to go, and Cherington recently saw Yoenis Cespedes in the Dominican Republic, or they could jump in on Carlos Beltran(notes), which is another.

The outcome on David Ortiz(notes), whose market appears to be strong and gaining momentum, could determine how the Red Sox attack frailties in right field and on their pitching staff. It doesn't appear they'll spend to plug all the holes.

Bringing talent to Houston begins with new GM

If nothing else, the Houston Astros GM job is a lot better today than it was four years ago, when Ed Wade got it. Of course, the calendar has as much to do with that as anything.

The Astros' world changes when Carlos Lee(notes) comes off the books, as he – and the last $19 million of that contract – does after 2012. In fact, only Wandy Rodriguez(notes) is guaranteed big money after the coming season (there's a $10 million vesting option on Brett Myers(notes), with a $3 million buyout), which is why Rodriguez is being shopped all over.

Look, most of the major league roster is over its head. And the farm system is average, at best, after the summer sell-offs. But there's hope. And the club should be able to lure a decent person to run its baseball side.

The Tampa Bay Rays on Monday granted the Astros permission to speak to Andrew Friedman, who is from Houston and already has saved one franchise. That, however, is a long shot.

I'm thinking Jim Crane won't get him, and will go with the likes of Thad Levine (Texas), Rick Hahn (Chicago), Dan Evans (a candidate when the Astros hired Wade), Billy Eppler (New York), Damon Oppenheimer (New York), Allard Baird (Boston) or Kim Ng.

"Given time, that could be a great job," one baseball executive said. "The city supports the team. The new owner just needs patience. It's the type of job that, with time, could be special."

Sadly for Astros fans, the time is not now. Next season likely will be miserable, and it won't help that the club will go to the winter meetings with an interim GM (Dave Gottfried) and a pending reorganization philosophy.

Hamilton loses more than a hitting coach

On Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers hired Texas Rangers assistant hitting coach Johnny Narron to be their hitting coach, replacing Dale Sveum, and this presents a dilemma for the Rangers.

And not so much because hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh really needed an assistant.

Narron also has served as part of Josh Hamilton's(notes) support staff. Just as he did with the Cincinnati Reds when Hamilton played there, Narron aided in Hamilton's recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, up to and including carrying Hamilton's meal money.

"We've been in touch with Josh – before and after the hiring – and will sit down to discuss the best way to move forward," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told "We're confident we will continue to support Josh and all our players as needed. In anticipation of losing Johnny, we had some discussion about this, but will be in a better position to address that specifically once we've all put our heads together."

Hamilton issued a statement through the club: "Johnny is very talented and helped me tremendously, both personally and professionally. He is fulfilling a dream to be a major league batting coach, and I have told him previously I would never stand in his way from doing that. We will stay in touch, and I wish him great success with the Brewers."

This is a nice story for Narron, who created a model for the assistant hitting coach under Rudy Jaramillo and Clint Hurdle. Outside the very public slip, Hamilton certainly benefitted from his guidance. Now there are questions about who will take over the Narron role as it applies to Hamilton, and the club could choose to leave that to trainers and other coaches. It's still an important job. …

Bidding for Cespedes is about to begin

Cespedes' temporary Dominican Republic residency request should be approved any day, which would allow MLB to affirm the status of the Cuban defector as a free agent.

That would mean agent Adam Katz could hit the winter meetings free to shop the toolsy outfielder, whose market could outdistance all other free-agent outfielders, including Beltran's and Michael Cuddyer's.(notes)

In so far: San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Cleveland, Boston, Detroit, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Washington, Miami and Philadelphia.

… And in the matter of Albert Pujols(notes)

I still think it's a matter of time before the Chicago Cubs join the game for Albert Pujols. The need is too great. The fit is too perfect. And the money is there.

The St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins are in.

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