It's been an up and down first season for Bobby Valentine
It has been a turbulent first season in Boston for manager Bobby Valentine. While he hasn't had the success that fans and ownership hoped he would, he has certainly made things entertaining.
The season isn't over yet, and though the Red Sox may still miss the playoffs and Valentine may be fired during the offseason, it isn't entirely his fault.
Here are the biggest highs and lows of Valentine's first and what may be his only season in Boston.
Everyone put a happy face on during the introductory press conference.
During Bobby Valentine’s introductory press conference he instantly showed he wasn’t as controlled as Terry Francona. Valentine was very outgoing and open with reporters and was very emotional. This was quite the contrast to the even-keeled Francona.
Valentine also showed us his quirky attitude early on. Unfortunately, this may have been the high point of Valentine’s Red Sox career.
Mike Aviles started off strong, but came back to earth quickly.
Bobby Valentine’s first antics came in spring training when he made it clear that he preferred to start Jose Iglesias ove Mike Aviles at shortstop. While it looked early on that Valentine was wrong in his assessment, it didn’t take long for Aviles to return to earth.
Aviles batted .291 in May and had eight home runs before June 1, but he was unable to keep up the pace and batted a horrific .237 in June and July.
While Jose Iglesias hasn’t exactly been a slugger for Pawtucket, he is significantly better on defense and would provide a boost to the pitching staff.
Valentine puzzled critics by accepting a regular spot on a New York radio show.
In one of Bobby Valentine’s most puzzling moves, he agreed to be a weekly guest on a Michael Kay’s New York sports radio show.
When asked by ESPN about how Boston fans would perceive his decision, Valentine said “Why, there aren't any Boston fans in New York?" he asked. "I've known Michael for a long time. I've known ESPN for a long time. They asked. I agreed."
Though this hasn’t been much of an issue, it doesn’t help with the fans' perception of Valentine.
The drama with Kevin Youkilis made things difficult for Valentine.
At the beginning of the season, Bobby Valentine attempted to shake things up by ripping on Kevin Youkilis, saying: “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.”
However, that backfired to the point where Dustin Pedroia said: “That's not the way we go about our stuff around here. Maybe that works in Japan."
Valentine never seemed to recover from this mishap. The resulting divide between the players and their manager could be one of the reasons why they have failed to go on a significant winning streak.
Valentine made sure Will Middlebrooks got regular playing time.
Unlike Terry Francona, Bobby Valentine wasn’t afraid to put Adrian Gonzalez in right field in order to bolster the lineup. While Francona fought with the decision during interleague play, Valentine wanted to use Gonzalez in right field in order to keep the talented rookie Will Middlebrooks in the lineup.
Valentine’s faith in Middlebrooks helped spark the Red Sox offense.
Even though the Red Sox have struggled, the offense is not the problem. The regular playing time that Valentine gave Middlebrooks early in the season made his adjustment to the big leagues a lot easier.
Though he did this before he was the manager this producing this movie was puzzling.
Bobby Valentine helped produce Ballplayer: Pelotero, a baseball movie depicting the journey of two Dominican players, top prospect Miguel Sano and fellow infielder Jean Carlos Batista as they prepare to sign their MLB contracts.
Despite working on this prior to joining the Red Sox, the timing was horrific and brought criticism from many baseball people, including MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
Inside comments to Middlebrooks brought criticism on Valentine.
Red Sox ownership continues to concern themselves with the strangest things. After an inning when Will Middlebrooks made two errors, Bobby Valentine sarcastically said “nice inning, kid.”
What should have been nothing became a story after ownership supposedly talked to Valentine about his comments (per ESPN.com).
In a season where the starting pitching staff has struggled, the last thing that ownership should be worried about is a sarcastic comment made by the manager.
Terry Francona makes and unnanounced visit to the Red Sox clubhouse.
Prior to a game against the New York Yankees, Terry Francona visited Red Sox players in the clubhouse.
While Bobby Valentine tried to brush it off, saying, “I didn’t think it was any big deal I didn’t see it. I wasn’t there partaking in the conversation. But what’s the big deal?” (per Boston.com)
Though this is no fault of Valentine’s, it shows the lack of respect he has in the baseball community; either that or the gusto that Francona has to come in unannounced.
Cody Ross celebrates after hitting a walkoff home run.
In a season where the Boston Red Sox have struggled at home, they have had a pair of walk-off home runs.
The first came when the Red Sox were down 2-1 in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. With one out, Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer off Fernando Rodney. Saltalamacchia’s walk-off came on the same day that he caught the first pitch from legendary Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.
On July 19 against the Chicago White Sox, the Red Sox offense was held intact for eight innings by Columbian pitcher Jose Quintana. Down 1-0 in the ninth inning, Cody Ross delivered by hitting a three-run, walk-off home run. Ross’ home run was the third three-run home run he hit in a two-game stretch.