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Owner John Henry said this in October of 2011: “Larry Lucchino runs the Red Sox.’’
That was made clear when new general manager Ben Cherington was sent on a hunt for a new manager of the Red Sox soon after Terry Francona was fired. Cherington soon found out that Lucchino was making the decision on who the new manager was, and he chose Bobby Valentine, who hadn’t managed a baseball team since 2009 in Japan and spent a couple of years working for the four-letter network (ESPN). He had been out of the majors since 2002.
Valentine, between the lines, was a pretty good baseball mind and knew the game pretty well. The problem with Valentine is his off-field antics. The guy loves the camera. There’s no doubting that. I mean, we’re only 12 games into this major league season and NESN already has the Bobby Valentine Show. That kind of thing is exactly what makes fans upset and gets radio personalities talking – “if he just worried about winning games, there would be no problems.”
Back to the owners…
They knew what they were signing up for with Valentine, so the question is why get this type of manager on a team with some serious problems?
I think Valentine was hired to be purely a smoke screen. If you turn on a radio or television, all you hear about is Bobby Valentine did this and said that. The Red Sox are sitting at 4-8 to open the year and it’s pretty clear that the organization is more invested in the money-making side of things and promoting the 100th year anniversary of Fenway Park.
With all of the clubhouse problems that became public last September, the baseball ops department found a way to remove zero players from the situation. Zero. They traded away the starting shortstop to save a few million dollars,Jonathan Papelbon walked and they got a closer who has missed 100 games in the past two seasons. They filled the void of the fifth starter with the best bullpen arm they had… for no apparent reason.
There has been a need for a right handed bat in the lineup since Manny Ramirez was traded, and the two biggest players they have landed are Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, both left-handed hitters. Baseball ops hasn’t made a good move to help this team after being embarrassed last fall.
Valentine, during spring training, wanted Daniel Bard in the bullpen, and he was leaning towards Jose Iglesias as his shortstop. He was overruled on both. Valentine has been questioned for leaving Bard in against Tampa Bay, he had to leave him in because that’s what the owners want.
Valentine has been questioned about his bullpen decisions in the first 12 games this season. Take a look at who he has out there to throw in a game. Justin Thomas, Junichi Tazawa, Vicente Padilla, Franklin Morales, Scott Atchison, Matt Albers, and closer Alfredo Aceves. It’s not Valentine’s fault that the bullpen lacks a good arm, so he is going to get his starters into trouble leaving them in too long and not showing confidence in these guys.
Valentine stands no chance in Boston. The owners are not focused on winning games and the players still have a serious attitude problem.
Dustin Pedroia‘s comments on what Valentine had to say about Kevin Youkilis, which wasnt even a bad comment, said a lot about the clubhouse. Pedroia is somewhat of a leader on this “team” and had this to say about the Valentine comments on Youk:
“I don’t really understand what Bobby’s trying to do. But that’s really not the way we go about our stuff here. I’m sure he’ll figure that out soon. We’ve got Youk’s back. He’s played his [butt] off for us for a long time …”
The team is under the impression that they run things, and that is a bad thing. If you like it or not, he is the manager and the way you go about your stuff failed in front of everyone. The Red Sox need to figure it out soon that they are the problem and not the manager, whoever that may be.
If the Red Sox stay under .500 approaching summer, the Valentine era could be over sooner that people thought, and much to their delight. I just can’t agree with Valentine being the problem when his team is split down the middle because the pitchers and position players don’t like each other. Watch a game on NESN and all the starters sit together at one end of the dugout while the position players sit on the other side.
Valentine signed up to manage this team and it looks like he is going down as the fall guy. There isn’t a good thing happening in this organization around him, but he is taking the bulk of the blame somehow, in only a few months of being here. This team has the raw talent to be a good team, but if they don’t act or conduct themselves as a team, Red Sox nation is in for another disappointing season.