Bobby Valentine: Was the Boston Red Sox's Dismal Performance Bobby V's Fault?
So the question remains: was this really all Bobby V's fault?
Well, some of the blame has to go to injuries. Carl Crawford saw very limited action before being shipped to Los Angeles. Last year's AL MVP candidate Jacoby Ellsbury played just 74 games. David Ortiz missed time in late August and into September. Dustin Pedroia needs offseason surgery on his finger after playing hurt for a portion of the season.
One of the lone bright spots for the 2012 Red Sox was the emergence of rookie Will Middlebrooks. However, he missed the last month and a half of the regular season due to a wrist injury.
Furthermore, closer Andrew Bailey didn't pitch until after the All Star break. Underachieving starters John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka also provided minimal impact, as Lackey failed to pitch this season and Matsuzaka pitched just eleven games and finished with an 8.28 ERA.
Clearly, injuries impacted the Red Sox season this year.
However, injuries should not be seen as an excuse, as plenty of other mistakes were made over the course of this season.
The demise of the 2012 Red Sox actually started before the season began, with a few offseason maneuvers that prevented the team from succeeding.
Trading shortstop Jed Lowrie to the Houston Astros for reliever Mark Melancon, who struggled with control and had to spend much of the season in the minors, proved to be a miserable trade for Boston. Not only did Lowrie have some success with Houston, hitting well in the first few months of the season before injuries plagued him the rest of the way, but Melancon was clearly not the answer that the Red Sox were looking for in the bullpen.
Who is to blame for the Red Sox's underachieving season this year?
It doesn't help that the Red Sox have been underwhelming at shortstop, as defensively talented Jose Iglesias has proved to be offensively inept, finishing the season with a .181/.200/.191 line, connecting on just 3 of his last 29 at bats.
Trading for oft-injured Andrew Bailey didn't exactly bode well either. The former Oakland closer was unable to pitch for much of the season while former Red Sox Josh Reddick posted a breakout year, hitting 32 home runs in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Plenty of players underwhelmed this season as well.
The entire rotation performed poorly throughout the season. Clay Buchholz leads the team in ERA with a mediocre 4.56. Both Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were shells of their former selves this season, underachieving all year. Beckett was eventually shipped out of town in the blockbuster deadline deal with the Dodgers. Felix Dubront had stretches of decent baseball, but he was also inconsistent at times. Fill-in Aaron Cook couldn't get the job done either. Daniel Bard was all over the place, from starter to reliever to the minors.
Only David Ortiz had more than 200 at bats and hit over .300 for the season. Their other .300 hitter, Adrian Gonzalez, was also shipped to Los Angeles.
A lot of their younger players, who were supposed to make the leap to the majors, underachieved. I've already detailed Iglesias' struggles, but catcher Ryan Lavarnway hit .157, and outfielders Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava hit.229 and .243, respectively.
Granted, there were plenty of instances where Bobby V made mistakes.
His outspokenness to the media has significantly affected his team. Criticizing his coaching staff last week is not helping build unity that Boston once had.
Openly condemning fan favorite Kevin Youkilis for his slow start also did not bode well, and Youk certainly burned his old team by performing well upon his arrival in Chicago.
Valentine also has not been able to control his clubhouse, as numerous outbursts by reliever Alfredo Aceves have led to distractions, especially after Aceves lost the closer role. Most notably, his heated exchange with second baseman Dustin Pedroia after a game against Oakland certainly raised some eyebrows.
Toward the end of the year, Valentine also made some questionable comments to the media during various interviews. When asked if he would change any of his managerial decisions, he claimed "(there was) not much I would have done differently, I don't think, other than I think I would've kept beer in the clubhouse. I could have used it after a few games this year." (via Boston.com)
Clearly, he was referencing the chicken and beer fiasco that occurred during last season's collapse.
This Red Sox lost 12 of their last 13 games, and it's pretty clear that Bobby V had a negative impact in Boston, as he grew out of favor with players, management and fans. But overall, he took a lot of heat for a lot of issues still existing, much like Terry Francona did last year after the Red Sox lost 20 of their last 25 and failed to make the playoffs.
Clearly, Valentine had something to do with this season going awry. But if Boston keeps scapegoating every manager it hires until it returns to the playoffs instead of addressing other issues within the organization, these problems will continue to exist.
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