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Nick: To quote Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, this season has been nothing short of miserable. Last place in the division. Who knows how many games under .500. A worse record than the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Kansas City Royals, not to mention the playoff contending Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles. And they shipped out two players who were supposed to be the centerpiece of a perennial World Series contender.
Miserable. Disastrous. Tragic. Depressing. Pathetic. Take your pick.
At the helm of this sinking ship of a season is Valentine, the much-maligned manager whose exuberance and effervescence (so to speak) have created constant headlines since before he was even hired. So, Steve, with two recent series against darling managerial candidate John Farrell, do you think the Red Sox should fire Bobby V?
Steve: Without a doubt, it is time to put an end to the social experiment that has been Bobby Valentine’s tenure in Boston. You knew it was a bad sign when the general manager of the team not only didn’t set up the meeting for Bobby, but he flat out didn’t want him as the manager. Not a good start to your time in Boston when the man who is supposed to be calling the shots regarding the roster and coaching staff isn’t behind the choice to hire you.
Following the lack of interest from the GM, and the general unrest of the fan base, Bobby didn’t make it easy to like him. He proceeded to verbally attack one of the cornerstones of the team when he questioned Kevin Youkilis’ intensity. Before April was over Bobby had lost this clubhouse and there was no getting it back. Bobby worked as hard as he could and finally ran Youk out of town for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge. Stewart was shelled in his first start and Lillibridge is no longer with the team. Smart move.
Nick: It’s hard to blame Valentine for taking a job that was offered to him. When ownership wants you badly enough to doublecross their general manager, who are you to pass up a multimillion dollar contract placed in front of you?
Along the same vein, it’s not like Valentine was the one making personnel decisions to handpick Stewart and Lillibridge. He may have orchestrated the deal to a certain extent, rankling Youkilis until he couldn’t stand it anymore, but lay the trade’s failure at Cherington’s feet, not Valentine’s.
Steve: I do agree with you that it is not fair to lay all the blame on Valentine; everyone in the organization needs to be held accountable for everything that has transpired since last September. I think this all stems from an ownership group that has lost touch with what the fans want, and what a winning team is supposed to look like. It’s no secret that after the historic collapse of September the last thing the fans wanted to read about was a yacht party for the team that just quit on their coach.
In Bobby’s defense, he didn’t cause all the problems that the clubhouse has been riddled with. Those started last season and have only worsened. The firing of Terry Francona was tough to stomach for fans and members of the team. Most of the players, especially Dustin Pedroia, had a strong relationship with Francona, and truly respected him as a manager and a friend. The clubhouse took advantage of Francona’s laid back approach which led to his firing following the historic collapse of September 2011. It’s almost as if the hiring of Bobby was done to punish the players showing them how they ruined a very good thing by taking advantage of Francona.
Nick: I loved Francona as much as the next Red Sox fan. He is one of, if not the best managers in franchise history. But it was time for him to go, and time for new blood. The Red Sox roster needed someone to shake things up and put them back in line. Clearly, as the losing goes on and on, they didn’t learn their lesson.
Steve: I’ve said numerous times that Francona was the best manager in the history of the franchise. I can see why it was time to go in a new direction, but I also think they used him as their scapegoat. Instead of moving problematic players off the team, they sent Tito packing and sullied his name on the way out. They brought in Valentine as an attempt to shake things up, like you mentioned, but Valentine has proven time and again that he is out of his element managing this team.
While Bobby didn’t cause the problems, he didn’t do anything to fix them either. He has always had a loud personality and that has only drawn more negative attention to the team. In his latest tirade on WEEI, he threatened to punch Glenn Ordway in the mouth, and made up just about every and any excuse there was for being late to a game in Oakland. In a season that has had more than its fair share of negative media coverage, the last thing they need is more time in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. If Bobby stays as manager, there will only be more negative stories to write about. It’s time to end this relationship and give the team a chance to have a clean slate as they head into the offseason. Better late than never.
Nick: I would agree that Bobby V has been a little, well, loud. Bold. Boisterous. Obnoxious. I could care less if he showed up a little late to a game. Especially at this point in the season. What’s the point, anyway? Go ahead, meet your son at the airport, Bobby, family first. Do I wish there were all the negative media attention? No, of course I would prefer a drama-less playoff run. But considering the Red Sox are more painful to watch than “Say Yes to the Dress” (don’t ask), I’m actually enjoying a couple of interesting headlines out of Boston. At the very least, you can’t claim Bobby V hasn’t been entertaining.
I say keep Bobby around to show the Red Sox they can’t just quit on their manager and expect him to disappear. Let’s make it a full season of punishment, drive the point home, no?
Steve: I understand how you can say they should leave him there as a punishment to the players, but quite frankly they have been punished enough. This is the core team that will be here next season and to say they don’t care for Valentine would be a gross understatement. Firing Valentine shows that the ownership is committed to the players that are still on the team as they approach the offseason. Considering this ownership over the past couple years has seemed somewhat disconnected, repairing the damage with the players is a step that needs to be taken sooner rather than later.
Nick: Repairing relationships is all well and good. But for the life of me I hardly think any of those players think to themselves, “I think John Henry likes soccer more than baseball. And my headphones are broken. I think I’m going to throw the game today.”
But what does firing him really accomplish, besides redirecting the fuel that fans the media fire in Beantown? A test run of Randy Niemann as interim manager? That should really motivate James Loney and the rest of the gang and give them some serious momentum into next year…
Steve: While firing him and having some interim manager doesn’t guarantee anything, keeping him around is only going to anger the players that are still there. Now that they moved the players who weren’t fitting in (Crawford, Gonzalez) and the one who was looked at as the root of the clubhouse problems (Beckett), it is a perfect time to move forward. There are already rumors of the Sox looking at Farrell and Angels manager Mike Sciosia. Considering Bobby is under contract for next season and they are already exploring other options, I would bet Bobby is not managing the Red Sox in 2013.
Nick: I too think Valentine is going to be shipping out of Boston this offseason. But what’s the point of signing him to a two-year contract if you’re not going to let him play it out? Sure, it’s not my money, but on principal it just doesn’t sit right. But even though I’m cheap, I suppose the guys buying $300 headphones and throwing yacht parties don’t have to be.
Besides, what expectations do you have for next season that Farrell or Scioscia are really going to make that much of a difference? I don’t care how much Pedroia and the pitching staff love Farrell, or how impressive Scioscia’s run has been in Los Angeles (or is it Anaheim?); this team has serious holes at first base, shortstop, and in the starting rotation. And as far as I can tell, Farrell or Scioscia won’t fill any of them. (Though if they did play any of those positions, they certainly couldn’t do any worse than last place, that’s for sure.)
As they say in the Matrix, though, it is, it seems, inevitable that Bobby V sails off into the sunset.
Wait, did I just compare Bobby V to Neo? Someone hand me a blue pill so I can sink back into blissful ignorance. Otherwise known as the NFL.