Boston Red Sox: Do They Need to Replace Bobby Valentine to Start Winning Again?
The Boston Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine thinking he would bring some order to a team that was in desperate need of some. Yet, 10 months and 92 losses later, the question now is do they have to replace him already to start winning again?
The entire 2012 season has been filled with non-stop drama for Boston.
Most of it has been of Valentine's own doing. But a lot of the issues carried over from their collapse last September, and the revelation that the Red Sox clubhouse was basically a free-for-all.
Bobby V was supposed to erase those memories. Winning would have done that. However, he's now overseen the worst season in franchise history since 1965.
Everything's pointing towards Valentine being fired after one year as skipper. We're going to look at a few reasons why that needs to happen if the Red Sox hope to turn things around in 2013.
His Poor Handling of the Kevin Youkilis Situation
Bobby V put himself behind the eight-ball before the season was even three weeks old. What was he hoping to gain by questioning the commitment of the most blue-collar player on the team?
What he accomplished was drawing the ire of Youk's teammates and Red Sox fans alike. Veterans like Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez were clearly bothered by their manager's statements.
The interesting dynamic in all of this is that Valentine should have looked at Youkilis as an ally.
There seemed to be a total lack of institutional control under Terry Francona. That was highlighted by the fried chicken and beer "talk" that surfaced after the Red Sox's tank-job last September.
According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, when asked in April if pitcher Josh Beckett had accused him of being the "snitch," Youk didn't deny it. That inherently meant he had a problem with what was going on.
Instead of ostracizing Youkilis, Valentine could have partnered up to him in the hope of holding other players on their team accountable.
That was the first mistake of many Bobby V made throughout the season.
Valentine's Frequent Missteps with the Media
Regardless of his feelings on certain reporters or topics, Bobby Valentine is expected to represent the Boston Red Sox in a professional manner. So when you threaten someone, especially over the radio, you're crossing the line.
Was the question meant to antagonize? Yes, but asking him if he had "checked out" isn't entirely unfair.
How often do you hear about the coach of a professional sports team being late to his game? Now Valentine's explanation sounds reasonable, especially if the organization was aware of the circumstances.
However, to lose your cool like that makes you wonder if he could handle another season in Beantown. The Red Sox haven't lost this many games in over 45 years. It's not going to get any easier for him.
When speaking about Bobby V's comments on WEEI, Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo! Sports summed it up best:
If Valentine hadn't already sealed his fate with this mess of a season, he probably did so with this interview.
His Fractured Relationship with Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia did not hold back in his public displeasure with Valentine's handling of the Youkilis fiasco.
Issues arose again in July, when numerous players called a meeting with ownership. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Gonzalez requested the sit down after Valentine left Jon Lester in to allow 11 runs on July 22. Passan also reported that:
Gonzalez and Pedroia were among the most vocal in the meeting, in which some players stated flatly they no longer wanted to play for Valentine, sources said.
Boston pulled off a historic salary dump when they unloaded Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That left Pedroia as the focal point for the franchise moving forward.
The Red Sox second baseman has reiterated throughout the season that his only issue with Valentine was handled and that they'd moved on.
If that were true, why then is he reportedly meeting with Bobby V's bosses, expressing frustration with how his manager's running the team?
Either way, it's pretty clear that if Valentine can't repair the damage already done between himself and Pedroia, he's got no chance of coming back next year.