After their epic collapse last season, the Boston Red Sox changed things up this offseason. They parted ways with GM Theo Epstein and dismissed manager Terry Francona. The manager they brought in to replace Francona was none other than Bobby Valentine. Luring him out of retirement to lead the BoSox may end up proving to be a detrimental move for the franchise.
Teddy Francona was a fan and team favorite for a long time. He managed the Red Sox to two World Series championships during his reign as manager, including their first since 1918, ending the "Curse of the Bambino." He was generally a mellow and laid-back manager for the Red Sox, allowing the team's play on the field to do the talking for him. Francona also was regarded as a "player's manager" and never let any criticisms he had about his players out to the public, keeping it all in-house.
Notorious for his on-(and sometimes off)-the-field antics, Bobby V has been known to have a huge ego. He is blunt, brash and controversial. Everyone remembers his ejection as a manager of the Mets, only to return to the dugout later in the game wearing a "disguise" on his face.
Valentine has been known to cause a distraction in games due to his aggressive style, and he has no shame in getting in an umpire's face to dispute a call. He also has no shame calling out players on his team that need to step up or aren't producing the results Valentine wants.
The main problem with incorporating Valentine as the manager of the Boston Red Sox is simple. The Red Sox suffered their collapse last season, and one of the widely reported causes was the chaos in the clubhouse. The roster is filled with players with huge egos.
During their off-days last season, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Jon Lester would head to the clubhouse to play video games, eat chicken wings and drink beer. This was all while their team was playing and trying to make it into the playoffs. Those players also slacked off on their workout regimens, causing them to build body fat and become more sluggish, despite appeals from team trainers.
Rarely is it ever a good combination to have a huge ego enter an organization that is plagued with egos itself. There will always be a sense of conflict, and that was noticed earlier this offseason, too. During the season last year, Valentine criticized Beckett's pace while working as a commentator for ESPN, stating that Beckett added 30 minutes to the game by just standing around behind the mound doing nothing.
The two met in the offseason and solved their issues; however, no one will really know how the water is between the two until the season gets underway.
Valentine has already put into motion things that can change the clubhouse culture. He has banned alcohol from the clubhouse, and according to Ken Davidoff of News Day, Valentine has stated that the video games and drinking beer will never happen on his watch.
If Valentine's previous coaching style comes into play, it will be the downfall of this year's team. With so many high-profile egos to take care of on this team, Valentine's in-your-face style will come back to haunt the Red Sox. So many delicate players have been crumbled in the past due to their egos clashing with managers, and this will be no different.
All in all, it will be interesting to see what happens during the season when it comes down to the wire. After a complete 180-degree turn from Francona to Valentine leading the BoSox, the team is going to be in trouble unless it finds a way to coexist amongst all the egos present.