With JoePo banging the drum for Valentine in the Star, I figure the question is at hand: who should replace Pena?
First, the overall and overriding caveat I must insert. I really don't think Major League managers matter all that much. At most, I'd guess its worth 2-3 losses or wins a year, give or take. Of course, you have cases like Jimy-- one m please -- Williams handing the Cubs the NL Central in 2003 with his decision to play Geoff Blum over Morgan Ensberg for half the season, but those are the exception. Setting the lineup each day is important, especially at the margins, but with a team like the Royals, who are so utterly devoid of real impact talent, its not really an issue.
I know I know, there is the affair d'Pickering to take note of. But unless the Royals hire Rob Neyer, I fear that there is too much ingrained bias against Pick for him ever to get a shot. And no, 10 games in April is not "a shot".
And thats really the rub. As I've tried to suggest here and elsewhere, the culture of baseball -- despite and exemplified by the Moneyball backlash -- is resolutely anti-innovative. There is an accepted and expected way to do things (think Dusty Baker and Tony LaRussa) and thats what is repeated over and over again. This happens at the micro and macro level.
Lets say a team has a one-run lead in the 8th inning, with the opponents 2-3-4 hitters coming up. Do we see the best reliver coming in to start the inning? Perhaps, but only if its a situation like the Angels had for a few years, with Percival still the closer by K-rod the superior pitcher.
Anyway, you know how this story ends. The inning dictates the pitcher, not the matchup. Yet, at the same time, the lefty-righty matchup is often wrongly employed ad nausem, because, thats the excepted move.
Now, just to finish this one example off, perhaps it using the "closer" in the 9th, despite who's batting, really is the better move. But does that mean that the alternative is so heinous that it is essentially never tried?
So, while I like Bobby Valnetine more or less, and really enjoy his occassional flights of fancy, I'm having a hard time really caring about this move. Basically, someone already ingrained in the network, in the culture, is going to get a nice, well-paying job, that they'll hold for 2-3 years.
The Royals will still be terrible this season, and terrible next season. And on this count I really disagree with JoePo that Bobby V, or anyone else, can inject excitement and winning out of thin air.
Only talent can, and the Royals don't have talent. In fact, by the end of this season after a few salary dumps, they may have even less talent.