Bobby Valentine was fired as the Boston Red Sox manager earlier this month after leading the team to a disappointing 69-93 record. Finishing 24 games under .500 was bad enough for the team to finish dead last in the AL East, the first time the Sox fell so low in twenty years.
The Sox have recently named former Blue Jays manager John Farrell as Valentine’s replacement. As a final send-off to Bobby, it seemed like a good idea to revisit his up-and-down (but mostly down) managerial career and grade his stints with other teams from which also got the ax.
The Texas Rangers (1985-1992)
In eight seasons guiding the Rangers during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Valentine never brought the team any closer than a distant second-place season in 1986. His Ranger teams never won 90 games or more, and his total winning percentage during his tenure was below .500.
The Norfolk Tides (1994)
After Bobby was bounced from the majors, some thought he might do well as a minor league skipper. And they were wrong.
Bobby Valentine spent one ignominious year as the manager for the New York Mets’ Triple-A team, the Norfolk Tides. The team finished fourth out of its five-team division, with a record of 67-75.
The Chiba Lotte Marines (1995)
After failing in the minor leagues, Valentine was shipped off to Japan, hoping that he might find his stroke there just as Cecil Fielder once did.
In his year in Japan, Valentine did surprisingly well, leading his team to a second-place 69-58-3 finish. However, his style so rankled the team’s players and brass that he was fired despite the team’s on-field success and Valentine’s multi-year contract.
The Norfolk Tides, Again (1996)
Bobby returned to the Tides and, in his most successful managerial stint to date, led the minor league club to an 82-59 record and a second place in the team’s division. At the end of the year, he was promoted to managing the big league club.
The New York Mets (1996-2002)
In seven years skippering the New York Mets, Valentine again failed to lead the team to a division title.
He did earn three straight second-place finishes from 1998-2000, and in one of those years, with the help of a wild-card berth, he helped to guide the Mets to a subway series against the New York Yankees. Poor managerial decisions, however—for instance, pulling respected veteran closer John Franco for an untested reliever at the end of Game 1 (which led to a blown save and ultimately a loss)—cost the Mets their best shot at the title since 1988.
The Chiba Lotte Marines, Again (2004-2009)
Clearly not cut out for the big leagues, Valentine returned to Japan, where he actually reached what was arguably the pinnacle of his managerial career. In Japan, Valentine led Chiba to a pennant and a Japan Series Championship title in 2005 and followed those up with an Asia Series championship earned by defeating the champions of the Korean League.
Still, despite his success, Bobby V’s style irked many, and his own team president launched a smear campaign against Valentine that led to his eventual ouster.
The Boston Red Sox (2012)
For some reason, the new Red Sox management decided to fire longstanding team manager Terry Francona and replace him with Bobby Valentine.
It was a grand experiment, some claimed. And its results were disastrous.
One season. 162 games. Nearly 100 losses. Widespread discontent among the rank and file and a summary dismissal after only one season, despite Valentine's multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. His 69-93 record was only three games better than that of the worst team in the league, and management wanted Valentine gone so badly, they replaced him with a guy whose won-loss record was only four games better.
If you can make Dustin Pedroia hate coming to work every day to play baseball, you know you must really be doing something wrong.