If the Boston Red Sox fire Bobby Valentine at the end of the 2012 season, what exactly was the point of hiring him in the first place?
Valentine has been in this game for a very long time and has been in more pressure-packed situations than the one he’s in right now.
The Red Sox are in a rebuilding mode as evidenced by trading a couple hundred million dollars worth of contracts in Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez. James Loney was the biggest name in return, but they also got multiple Dodger prospects that are hopefully going to be in Fenway sooner than later.
Obviously, this season is disappointing and not what anyone expected, however, this was brewing for a couple years now, and Terry Francona was the first one to take the heat when his players revolted.
The players from the championship teams of the mid-to-late 2000’s have gotten older; they acquired players with hot tempers and unruly attitudes (John Lackey), and have spent millions of dollars on players who did not pan out (Crawford, Bobby Jenks, and Dan Wheeler). Yet, all of this is Valentine’s fault?
Maybe Valentine was in the right to question Kevin Youkilis’ work ethic? Or maybe he tried to light a fire under a struggling player, but went about it the wrong way.
If Valentine was so far in the wrong, why was Youkilis traded shortly thereafter? Was it because newcomer Will Middlebrooks was the obvious choice as the third baseman of the future, or was it because Youk was on his last legs?
Since the trade, Youk is putting up numbers way below what we’re used to with a batting average down 46 points from his career average and an OPS at the lowest it’s ever been.
And the bullpen, one Valentine cannot take the full blame for, has been horrendous all year. When you're relying on your set-up guy, Daniel Bard, to compensate for a lack of depth in the rotation and then come back to close out games, you’re in trouble.
When your most reliable lefty out of the pen is Andrew Miller, who has a career ERA around 5.50, you’re in trouble. And when your closer is out for the majority of the year with an injury and you replace him with Mark Melancon and Alfredo Aceves, who has never had to be the guy, you’re in trouble.
His starting pitching has been in constant disarray. Clay Buchholz has had stints on the DL and has been working his ERA down from the high 8.00’s. Jon Lester is having an uncharacteristically awful year sitting at 9-11 with an ERA of 4.99.
Beckett was finally put out of his misery and sent to the Dodgers, where he has regained some of the form that made him a playoff hero in years past, and John Lackey, who is currently on the DL for the year, has been an unmitigated disaster since signing a five-year, $82.5m deal.
Despite a guaranteed fourth or fifth position in the AL East and one of the worst records the Sox have had in quite some time, I can’t see Boston and Valentine going anywhere but up.
He deserves one more year at least.
Devon is a manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario, Canada, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.