Boston Red Sox: Why Bobby Valentine Has to Be Fired Before the End of the Season

Adam MacDonaldAnalyst IIMay 6, 2012

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 30:  Bobby Valentine #25 of the Boston Red Sox gestures during batting practice before a game with the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park April 30, 2012  in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by J. Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Bobby Valentine era in Boston has been a disaster so far, though it would be unfair to say that all of the Red Sox's woes are the fault of the new manager.

The team is 11-15, in the midst of a four-game slide, has lost nine of 10 at home and hasn't been over .500 yet this season. However, there is a limit to what a manager can do when his pitching staff has the second-worst ERA in the major leagues, allowing almost six runs a game.

Six men have started a game for Boston this year. The lowest ERA of the group is Daniel Bard's 4.38 mark. Seven relievers have an ERA above three and the rotation is averaging just over five innings per start, which further exposes the feeble bullpen.

Even the offense has gone through dry spells, averaging only three runs in their last six games.

However, that is not to say the Boston Red Sox are losing in spite of the managerial genius of Bobby Valentine. He has been terrible too.

He has called out players, and had to apologise to Kevin Youkilis for saying his heart wasn't in it anymore, but we knew that's the sort of guy he is. What we didn't expect was that he would screw up the on-field side of things too.

He left Daniel Bard in to die the slowest death imaginable, as he walked every Tampa Bay Ray he could find to blow the game. Vicente Padilla, Alfredo Aceves, and Jon Lester have all been left on the mound well past their sell-by date during the season.

The worst of those was Lester, who came back out in the eighth with over 100 pitches thown and having been hit hard in the previous inning. That's not necessarily a bad decision because he's your ace, but the crazy thing was having no one warming in the bullpen.

Bobby seems to like doing that, thinking a pitcher can finish an inning when he's clearly smoked. Perhaps he doesn't want to go out to collect them for fear of being booed again.

Valentine's bullpen is terrible but that doesn't excuse his poor managing of it. He has twice called on Justin Thomas to get a key out against a lefty. That's not where Thomas is strongest and it was a surprise to no one when he failed both times.

Then again, when he doesn't leave them out too long, he takes them out too early, like he did in the middle of Felix Doubront's (99 pitches, four hits allowed through six innings) most impressive outing yet.

Even with the batters his decisions have been questionable. Batting Nick Punto leadoff was a head-scratcher, as was playing Darnell McDonald and Kelly Shoppach against a righty. (And no, the fact Punto ended up with three hits does not justify that decision. Blind squirrel finding acorns, and all that.)

Valentine even made out a lineup card wrong because he didn't know if the opposing pitcher was left- or right-handed.

Bobby Valentine has had to make the trip to the mound frequently this season
Bobby Valentine has had to make the trip to the mound frequently this seasonDavid Banks/Getty Images

The crowd chanted "We want Tito!" at the end of the Fenway Par 100th anniversary game loss to the New York Yankees, and #firebobbyv has already been trending on Twitter several times. Of course, these are fans being predictably reactionary, but that doesn't change the fact Valentine has to take some of the blame.

No, this team hasn't performed well. The Red Sox could have Connie Mack, Spary Anderson or Joe McCarthy as their manager and they would still have a losing record, because you can't win with a team ERA of 5.44. But then again, it seems unliely any of those guys would make the mistakes Bobby V has.

This team is too good to languish in the murky depths of the division for the entire season. Last year, the Sox were the best team in baseball from May to August and this year's team just isn't good enough to go on that sort of tear.

The Sox will underperform in 2012 and it's largely the fault of the players and former GM Theo Epstein. However, as we saw last year, it's the manager who often pays the price for his players' poor performance, and Bobby Valentine may be held accountable even without his mistakes.