After one tumultuous year Bobby Valentine is done as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Valentine was brought in with the hopes that he could unify a veteran clubhouse but instead his prickly personality caused desention in the clubhouse and raised the ire of fans and media alike. To be fair, the team had any number of problems that contributed to their horrible season but it was inevitable that he take the fall.
Valentine is the second straight manager in two years to ‘lose the clubhouse’ which starts to strongly suggest that the problem is with the players, not the manager. Terry Francona took the blame for the team’s late season collapse last year. The rationale for getting rid of Francona was that he was too ‘hands off’ and his players took advantage of him. Valentine was just the opposite and the players ‘revolted’ like a bunch of petulant children.
Valentine came to the team with an impressive track record–he won the NL Championship twice and a Japanese baseball championship with the Chiba Lotte Marine. He also gained countless fans in his tenure as an analyst on ESPN where he proved to be a cerebral and insightful observer with a vast knowledge of baseball minutia.
Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington–who was brought in to replace Theo Epstein after last season–issued a statement that provides a good account of the many problems that Valentine faced in his year with the team:
“Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons. No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. … With a historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”
Toronto Blue Jays’ manager John Farrell is reportedly the frontrunner to replace Valentine and the Red Sox are likely in a position to make it financially worth his while to take on the thankless job of running this dysfunctional team. The reality is that the team’s roster is their biggest problem with any number of aging starts that are overpaid and underachieving. Of course the Bay State fans are in denial about that fact and don’t want to hear that the team is in ‘rebuilding mode’. Until the Red Sox grasp that reality, the manager will likely serve as a scapegoat for a much bigger problem.