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Chass: NYTimes is in the Valentine Promo Business

Since he was forced out at the New York Times, longtime baseball columnist Murray Chass has started a bit of an industry first: A completely independent blog, written and run by a very established voice in the field. At times, Murray Chass ... On Baseball is tremendously insightful and revealing. At others, it feels a step slow, just as his column occasionally did in the past. In both cases, it's incredibly well written and thought out, which is precisely what you'd expect from a name the caliber of Chass.

Of all the critiques Chass has offered since launching the site, none comes close to the cutting wit of an entry he posted Wednesday, where he not only throws former colleague Jack Curry under the bus for a recent article, but also reads the tea leaves about the future of Rangers-turned-Mets-turned-Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine, coming to some fascinating conclusions.

In the piece -- titled ADVERTISEMENT FOR HIMSELF (Chass's all-caps, not mine) -- the blogger repeatedly refers to an article in last Sunday's New York Times entitled Classic Bobby Valentine: Waiting for a Call. The gist of the piece is that Valentine, who has managed in Japan for a number of years since leaving the states (and where he has won a NPB title), could be an ideal pick to be the next manager of the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic. That's where Chass's critique, quite cleverly, comes in: He's calling the entire article a big advertisement.

To be honest, it reads like one, too. Throughout the piece, Valentine is pitched as a perfect salve to the U.S.'s tactical wounds, a virtual anti-Davey Johnson. His experience coaching in Japan is portrayed as a panacea for the U.S.'s struggles to handle Japan and Korea tactically (though it says nothing of how the U.S. would do a better job fighting out group round games against Venezuela).

Chass makes a particularly salient point, however, comes near the end of his post, where he expounds on the dire financial straits facing a handful of Japanese professional teams. According to Chass, the Marines may be forced to cut payroll significantly to make ends meet at the end of the year. Valentine's current contract pays him a whopping $2.3 million per annum, which makes him both the most immediate and obvious candidate to walk to the guillotine.

Connect the dots, and it's incredibly obvious to see why Valentine would be particularly interested in getting his name out in the American press as much as possible: In eight months or so, he's going to need a new job.

There are other condemnations from Chass involved in the piece -- he calls the Marines' director of international business development, a man named Larry Rocca, a "Valentine sycophant" and chalks up one Valentine quote, relayed through Curry, to the kind of superego usually reserved for acknowledged deities. Both of those details could be viewed as Chass sniping at his former employers, and a former colleague fortunate enough to escape the company's cutbacks.

Yet, at the end of the day, Chass has some incredibly compelling points, and I, for one, and inclined to buy into them. Whether you are or not is your own prerogative, but both piece make for interesting reading, and re-affirmation of the old maxim that you always have to be careful believing what you read.

By Cameron Smith  |  April 2, 2009; 5:01 PM ET
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So USA Baseball would want Valentine because he's coached in a culture that values the fundamentals of small-ball and fielding?

Slightly OT, but a really interesting ESPN the Mag article on sabremetrics and fielding:

Posted by: Juan-John | April 2, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Reading about Murray Chass always makes me miss Fire Joe Morgan.

Posted by: cocyach | April 2, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

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