Bobby Valentine hasn't followed the 2009 Mets as closely as he would have if he were not in another hemisphere.

But the team's former manager said Tuesday that he has seen enough to consider the season "a tragedy."

"I have some friends there that I've shared tears with because I think it's been a tragedy," he said from Japan, where he is concluding a six-year run with the Chiba Lotte Marines and preparing to join ESPN as an analyst in time for the League Championship Series. "It's been disappointment after disappointment, and I don't think anybody could've fixed it as the season was going on. As soon as it seemed like things were getting better, they seemed to get worse. I was kind of a fan that was really disappointed and upset by the outcome."

Naturally, Valentine's name will come up if the Mets eventually replace manager Jerry Manuel - not to mention for other teams with openings - but for now he said he is "committed" to doing the best job he can for ESPN.

In 2010, that will include regular work on "Baseball Tonight" as well as contributing to 1050 ESPN radio and, a Web site launching early next year.

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Valentine has provisions in his contract that would allow him to leave for a managerial job, but ESPN executive VP Norby Williamson said he assumes the network will have Valentine at least through 2010.

After the Mets fired Valentine, he spent 2003 at ESPN. He said rejoining the network was an easy decision. (Even if it does mean also rejoining former Mets general manager Steve Phillips, with whom he had a frosty relationship.)

"This is a situation that only a fool would refuse," he said.