Should the Red Sox fire Bobby Valentine?
This was the big question being debated within the media and across the radio airwaves on Monday. The majority say that Valentine should be gone, but there are still some that want to stick with the manager. The attention that the subject has gotten over the past few days prompted general manager Ben Cherington to address the subject with the media before Monday’s game and also John Henry sending an email out to the local media outlets. Both essentially backed the manager, virtually saying he will not be fired.
Some local writers also gave their opinions on the subject:
Bobby Valentine never fit here, should go now– John Tomase says Valentine should be fired, and fired immediately.
Firing Bobby Valentine won’t fix the Red Sox– Peter Abraham says Valentine isn’t the real problem within the Red Sox, and firing him now wouldn’t solve anything. In fact, he mentions some of the things Valentine has done well.
Desperate times, desperate measures– Gordon Edes looks at past teams who have fired their manager mid-season. It has worked for some teams in the past.
To me, firing Bobby Valentine right now, in the middle of the season is not the answer. Quite frankly, although he’s made some questionable on-field decisions regarding lineups and pitching changes, as a whole he’s done a pretty decent job as a manager on the field. Off the field is a different story, but on the field he has been above average.
Look at what he was given to work with. He’s yet to have a full complement of players for his lineup. His bullpen was a mess as the season began, but he got the most out of the guys he put on the field. Most importantly injuries have been a daily occurrence with the team, a record-number of games missed due to injuries. He was without Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford for virtually half the season, and then adding insult to injury were DL-stints for Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Managing a baseball team without those players for a significant period of time is no easy task, but Valentine has done the best he can and put together a lineup that has put up the third-most runs in all of baseball. As an on-field manager, he’s been pretty good.
Off the field…not so much. Going along with daily occurring injuries seems to be daily occuring miscommunications between Valentine and the front office/medical staff. Valentine will say one thing to the media, and the media will ask the specific player about it, and get a completely different answer. Valentine also runs his mouth a little too much adding unnecessary drama.
A perfect example was last week when appearing on WEEI’s Big Show for his weekly interview Valentine offered a story of management learning of a comment Valentine made to Will Middlebrooks following a poor inning in the field. Management did not like the way Valentine was communicating to his rookie third baseman, and voiced their displeasure. Valentine was not responding to any particular question, rather he offered the story up on his own, which probably isn’t the best thing to do in a town like Boston considering Middlebrooks was being faced with questions about it the very next day. Unnecessary questions, that no player wants, nor expects to face when they show up to the ballpark.
There have also been reports of Valentine not getting along, over even speaking with some of his coaches. While there have been some miscommunications, people need to remember a lot of these coaches were with the team last season and worked under Terry Francona. Most are not Valentine guys, most didn’t know Valentine until he was hired. There was going to be an adjustment period, a time where they got to know each other and the way everyone likes to work. Most reports say things are getting better, which was to be expected as time went on.
Firing Valentine now wouldn’t solve much. In fact the players would get their way once again, just like last year when they complained about the schedule and late Sunday night games. In turn they got headphones and a night on a yacht, courtesy of ownership. Then, they wanted their manager fired. They got that too. The players are the ones to be blamed, they are the ones on the field underperforming. Management spent the money to get the star players (a few mistakes), but the players aren’t playing up to par for who they are. While management is at fault for catering to every gripe the players have, for the most part they cannot be blamed for what has happened on the field. So now, why should these underperforming players once again get what they want?
What the Red Sox should do is ride out the rest of the season, then completely reevaluate their team and what kind of direction they want to go in during the off-season. To me, ownership needs to put the team in complete control of Ben Cherington and first, let him decide on a manager, with no input from management. If he is comfortable with Valentine, let it be Valentine, otherwise find someone else. But, that manager needs to be given complete control and able to manage in whatever style he is most comfortable, with 100 percent backing from management.
Next comes the players. Guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz — those guys are here virtually no matter what because of their contracts, but serious consideration needs to go into the remainder of the roster. They need players who are committed to the team and organization. They need players that are not going to go crying to the front office if things are run differently, and not the way they are accustomed to. They need guys who just go about their business on a day-to-day basis and all that matters in the end is results. With a solid set and stone core group of players set to return, the team should be in a position to compete for a Division, and World Series title with whomever else is on the roster from newly acquired players and whichever players carry over from this year, as long as the core group of guys perform to what they are capable of.
Rather than “blowing” the team up, what they need is a different way of running the organization, a change in culture and a commitment to the new culture, rather than the players running the organization like is the case now. One can only hope they can get things back on track next season because it isn’t much longer before fans really stop showing up at Fenway and supporting their home team. As bad as things have been this year, it still can get worse.