If you told me I'd actually feel bad for Bobby V by the end of the year, I would've laughed at you and said you were insane.
First off, I think it's hard for 99.9 percent of people to feel any sympathy for Bobby V. He was only with the team for a year and was arrogant and grating at times. When you think about it, the fact that anyone would be sympathetic towards Bobby V shows how horrible this ownership has become. Basically, their idiotic handling of their team has caused a man with a not-so-great reputation and an average managerial record to be thought of sympathetically.
It's staggering how quickly I had a change of heart on Valentine. Take the situation with Will Middlebrooks. A while back he had a terrible inning where he made a couple of errors. Once he gets back to the dugout, Bobby V says "nice inning, kid." It was his way of making light of a situation and describing a similarly horrible day he had as a player. At best he was busting Middlebrook's chops. At worst he was being a jerk at an inappropriate time.Is what he did serious enough for someone to rat him out? Nope. Is what he did really that bad? Absolutely NOT!
Has Red Sox ownership forgot how to put people in a place to succeed? How could they forget the lessons of '04 and '07 that quickly? Managers need their staff working together to win games. In a way a baseball staff is like a corporation with a board of directors. You need a strong CEO who has final say and smart advisors working under him.
The Red Sox kept most of Terry Francona's old staff. A situation like this doesn't make for a healthy working environment. You think they're going to honestly work with Valentine? No way! No wonder he said he felt like he was undermined. How is this painfully clear to everyone on the planet but Red Sox ownership?
If you hate Bobby Valentine, I get it. Even though he's not the most popular guy in the world, he still should have gotten the authority to call the shots. It's blatantly obvious that he wasn't empowered. Perhaps the most disgusting thing about 2012 is how Red Sox ownership insults our intelligence. Don't blatantly lie to me by claiming you did empower the manager. You didn't. Bobby V may have been out of big league ball for 10 years, but he has not lost his ability to judge pro talent.
Believe me, it's painful to write this column, but we have to call it like we see it. The book on Valentine is that he does an excellent job with younger talent but clashes with older veteran teams. His did a terrible job handling the media and was a know-it-all politician at times. His knowledge of the game was pretty good, but he lacked the humility and ego-handling skills needed in order to succeed.
My God, he didn't get another job in pro ball for a decade! There has to be a reason why, right? I'm stunned none of this stopped Larry Lucchino from hiring him.
His starting rotation was a wreck. Beckett and Lester were awful. Clay Buchholz was atrocious starting off the season, missed some time and didn't turn things around until late in the year. Felix Doubront looked like a big league pitcher but faded out late. Franklin Morales had some success but was largely inconsistent. Aaron Cook was only good because he gave the team depth while Josh and Clay spent a few weeks on the disabled list. The middle relief looked good, but the team got nothing out of Andrew Bailey.
Crawford missed a ton of time, wasn't productive and is now a Dodger. Ellsbury spent more than half the year on the DL. Cody Ross played decently, but spent a chunk of time on the shelf as well. Youkilis wasn't very good and is now in Chicago. Middlebrooks is gone for the year. Mike Aviles started off great, but faded quickly. Dustin Pedroia didn't perform up to expectations either. No one on the team really gave him a chance.
Let's face it, Valentine inherited a weak team. The problems the team faced in September of 2011 were not a fluke. The morale and clubhouse on that team was weak. They're loaded with malcontents that ran a good guy out of town a year ago. The amount of rats on that team was staggering. Tony La Russa would have a tough time winning 85 games with this year's team.
Bobby V is gone, but certainly not forgotten. Don't get me wrong. I would have fired him because he wasn't very good here. Yet I see the 2012 disaster is more of a reflection on Red Sox management than Valentine.
In retrospect everything about him screamed bad fit.