Boston Red Sox: Bobby Valentine's 5 Worst Moves as Manager
The Bobby Valentine era in Boston has been a disaster. The team is going to finish below .500, with perhaps their worst record in 46 years, and their fans have already switched over to the New England Patriots.
From testy comments to journalists to bone-headed on-field moves, from lame excuses to terrible communication with his players, everywhere Valentine has turned, something has gone wrong.
The blame for this season lies more with the players than the manager, but he is far from blameless and has no right still to be in the job in 2013.
There have been too many bad decisions this season to recount or remember, but here are five of the worst, most difficult to understand or unintentionally hilarious ones.
Calling out Kevin Youkilis
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Bobby Valentine got off to a bad start as manager. Less than two weeks into the season, he threw third baseman Kevin Youkilis under the bus, saying his heart wasn't into the game any more.
Youk has played the game hard his whole career, and that did not change in 2012. Injuries affected his playing time, and no doubt his performance, but his commitment was never in doubt.
The comments sparked a debate on sports radio and social media about how harmonious the clubhouse was really going to be under Valentine.
The Radio Interview(s)
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Bobby Valentine is bad at his job. He has done very little this year on the field which would instill faith in a fan base, and off the field, he has been an utter disaster. But what really makes it worse is that, when criticised, he comes over all whiny and defensive.
There was no better example of this than a few weeks ago, when he was on WEEI's The Big Show.
When questioned about the accusation he showed up more than two hours late to the ballpark one day, Valentine went off the deep end. He threatened to punch the host, demanded to know who reported it, denied being two hours late could be classed as "being late" and went on a rant about how the hosts had disrespected his family.
It almost made you pity the man. He has probably tried hard this season, and nothing has worked. That must be frustrating, but this reaction was totally uncalled for.
On the other hand, though, he has been rude to the media all season long. Perhaps it was to be expected.
Forgetting His Own Lineup
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In a game against the Oakland Athletics in early September, Scott Podsednik was in the lineup, as you would expect given his surprisingly good performance this year, but not in a position he was used to. For the first time in the veteran's career, he was pencilled in to bat third.
Naturally, Bobby V was asked about it. WEEI.com's Alex Speier reported his response.
"Just a mistake ... Is that what it says on the lineup? What the [expletive]? Switch it up. Who knows? Maybe it will look good. I haven’t seen it."
What? Either Bobby V genuinely didn't know what his lineup was, or he simply couldn't be bothered explaining his reasoning behind the decision.
There have been other cases like this. He once forgot whether the opposing pitcher was left- or right-handed and when asked what the rotation looked like for an upcoming series (back when the games still mattered), he deadpanned, "Who cares"?
Calling out Roster
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It was widely reported earlier in the week that Valentine called out the entire team, saying the Sox had the worst September roster in the history of baseball.
Good on you, Bobby. A real classy thing to do when your players are trying hard and failing. What happened to the manager being a motivator?
He has a point to an extent; they are dealing with injuries to key guys like David Ortiz, and the trade of Adrian Gonzalez has left a hole in the lineup.
But to criticise the players so publicly is the job of an analyst, not a manager. Valentine was an analyst with ESPN last year, and with any luck, he will be soon again.
Pinch Hitting for Jose Iglesias
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The 2012 season is over for the Boston Red Sox. They are mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. Bobby Valentine has one goal right now: Learn about the players.
Can Andrew Bailey cope as the closer in this market? Is Junichi Tazawa going to be the set-up guy? Does Jose Iglesias' glove make up for his bat? What do you have in Ryan Lavarnway?
So having Iglesias, who is struggling mightily, and was 2-for-28 at the time of this decision, up at the plate in a clutch situation is probably a good learning opportunity. The Sox were playing the Toronto Blue Jays, and the game was in a scoreless tie in the seventh inning. With two outs, Pedro Ciriaco singled to bring up Iglesias.
Valentine stuck with him. The young shortstop worked the count to 2-2, with Ciriaco stealing second base on the fourth pitch. Now he's in scoring position, and Iglesias has the chance to be the hero, as even a single would allow the speedy Ciriaco to score. How's that for a much-needed confidence booster?
Apparently not good enough, as Bobby V sent Daniel Nava to pinch hit for him. In the middle of the at bat.
Whom does that help? What does that move do for anyone but crush Iglesias' confidence? Across the league, pinch hitters are batting just .202, and that's without the handicap of a ready-made two-strike count. Of course Nava grounded out on the first pitch, the inning was over, and the Sox went on to lose.
It was cheap, stupid, classless and totally indefensible.
Just Wait Until Next Week
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The worrying thing about this whole debacle is that it's only getting worse. Valentine isn't settling into the role or getting to know his players better. His decisions are becoming increasingly questionable, and his attitude with the media is downright deplorable. The incidents are coming with increasing frequency.
Unless he is fired, this will only get worse. While they should be a footnote in MLB news now, the Boston Red Sox are a laughing stock. It is hard to discern Bobby V's goal behind everything, but unless it's to get himself sacked, it's not working.