October 5, 2012

SCOTT MARTIN: Bobby V didn't fit

By Scott Martin smartin@centralmaine.com
Sports Editor

Let me start by saying this: Bobby Valentine never had a chance.

click image to enlarge

NO LONGER HERE: Bobby Valentine, left, was fired Thursday after leading the Red Sox to a 59-93 record in his first season with the team. Valentine questioned former Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis’s desire early in the season, before Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox.

AP

2012 Red Sox by the numbers

Record: 69-93
Finish: Last in AL East
Games out of 1st: 26
Worst record since: 1965 (62-100)
Seasons without a playoff berth: 3

When he was hired to manage the Boston Red Sox last November, he took over a team that was in disarray.

He entered a toxic clubhouse that was coming off the worst collapse in baseball history.

The Sox were crushed by injury, starting in spring training when closer-to-be Andrew Bailey suffered a fluke thumb injury.

He wasn't backed by general manager Ben Cherington on multiple occasions.

His roster was ripped to shreds by the mega-trade/salary dump that shipped Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The move to make Daniel Bard a starter was a disaster.

The cards were stacked against Bobby V from the very start.

Now that I've got that out of the way, he was absolutely the wrong choice as Red Sox manager and management was 100 percent right to fire him just hours after the disaster that was the 2012 season ended.

When the Red Sox hired Valentine after rushing Terry Francona out of town after that beer-and- chicken-fueled September collapse, the hope was Valentine would bring discipline and structure to a clubhouse that had gotten away from Francona. Valentine banned beer in the clubhouse, he stressed fundamentals, he held players accountable.

And before he got started, he lost the club.

There was the reported berating of Mike Aviles on a back field in spring training, then the public questioning of Kevin Youkilis' desire. The moment Dustin Pedroia spoke up and said, "that's not how we do things around here," we should have known this season was as good as over. Valentine throws Youkilis under the bus, Pedroia rips Valentine, and management does nothing, at least publicly, about it. Yeah, not a good sign.

From there it just got worse. Valentine continually embarrassed himself and this franchise. Whether it was not knowing if a starting pitcher was right handed or left handed, telling the media he was ordered by the medical staff to not play Carl Crawford four days in a row, saying his roster was the worst September roster in history (it may have been, but you can't say that), threatening to punch a radio host (even if he was kind of joking and even if the host deserved it), or throwing his entire coaching staff under the bus on the last day of the regular season, Valentine made a fool of himself over and over and over again.

September 2011 was horrific and mind blowing. It hurt because it was so sudden. Sure, the Sox struggled in April, but they were so good in July and August. Then it all fell apart.

This season has been one long nightmare. For every winning streak -- as short as it may have been -- there was a longer losing streak. Valentine never did anything to make anyone believe things were going to change. No, he just made people shake their head and ask, "Did he really just say that?"

It should have come as no surprise. There had to be a reason Valentine was out of Major League Baseball for 10 years. And really, he just doesn't come off as a likable guy. He has that smug, "I'm smarter than you," personality that doesn't play well with today's players.

The rebuilding of the Boston Red Sox started when they pulled off that miracle trade with the Dodgers. It continued Thursday when they sent Bobby Valentine packing. Much, much more has to change. No one person is responsible for the Sox' 69-93 record, their worst in almost 50 seasons.

This isn't all Bobby V's fault, but he did nothing to make things better. He had to go. He never should have been here in the first place.

Scott Martin -- 621-5618

smartin@centralmaine.com

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