Bobby Valentine has been fired from the Boston Red Sox. He has been receiving the bulk of the blame for the team’s performance, when he should actually be thanked.
In order to give Valentine’s tenure in Boston proper perspective, we have to look back at the events and situation that led to his hiring.
Let’s start with the collapse at the end of the 2011 season.
If not for the failure of the Red Sox to make the playoffs with a nine-game lead in September, perhaps Terry Francona might still be the manager of the team and Valentine still in the broadcast booth.
In Francona’s own statement he said that the team needed a different voice: (Courtesy of ESPN.com)
“I told them that out of my enormous respect for this organization and the people in it, they may need to find a different voice to lead the team.”
Those sentiments were echoed in a statement from John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino on behalf of the Red Sox:
“Tito said that after eight years here he was frustrated by his difficulty making an impact with the players, that a different voice was needed, and that it was time for him to move on.”
In search of a different voice, management and ownership went out and hired one of the most abrasive voices they could find in Valentine. He has made a career of being controversial and eventually wearing out his welcome.
Valentine was an instant oil-and-water mix in the clubhouse, the polar opposite of Francona. From issues with Kevin Youkilis to a lack of trust with his staff, there wasn’t a scenario imaginable for Valentine to be successful in Boston.
Even if you go back to the beginning of the 2011 season the writing was on the wall that the team was looking for change. Francona also mentioned after parting ways, his frustrations that he felt ownership didn't have his back in his final year with the team, before the collapse.
"To be honest with you, I didn't know, or I'm not sure, how much support there was from ownership," he said. "I don't know if I felt real comfortable. You have to be all-in with this job and I voiced that today. There were some things that maybe -- going through things here and to make it work -- it has to be everybody together and I was questioning some of that a little bit."
The Red Sox are now in full rebuild mode.
They traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers and sent Youkilis to the White Sox earlier in the year. Those moves have freed up plenty of money for Ben Cherington to try to build a new team virtually from scratch.
If they are successful in rebuilding, Henry, Werner, Lucchino and Cherington will ride in on white horses looking like heroes when they are actually the common denominator.
They were part of the decision to have Francona leave. They as a group share responsibility for hiring Valentine.
Who is most responsible for the current state of the Red Sox franchise?
Now, they must make the next sequence of decisions to try to right the ship.
It will be interesting to see who the new manager will be and what players will fill the roster. Will they spend outrageously on free agents or try to build from what they have?
If the team is able to return to greatness, Valentine should be thanked more than blamed.
He offered a distraction while the team struggled, was decimated by injuries, shipped off players and finished last in the AL East. He now serves as the scapegoat for all that is wrong in Boston although he was never given a true opportunity to make it right.
Most remodeling projects start with a demolition.
Bobby Valentine can demolish a franchise like few others.
Job well done.
Jamal WIlburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.