Everyone knew that 2012 would be a rebuilding year for the Red Sox. Now we know that the season was entirely wasted. They’ve just put themselves back a year or more due to the stupidity of the management and the hire of this washed up retread. They could have been rebuilding with someone that actually had potential at managing a major league team.
As a Sox fan, I hated last offseason: I’ll never forgive them for how Terry Francona was treated when he left. I thought they spent way too much time and energy dicking around with Theo, like anybody actually thought forcing him to stay when he didn’t want to be there was a viable option. And I loathed the Bobby V hiring and was very pessimistic on him. However, the season turned out even worse than I ever imagined. He’d better be gone within the next 24-48 hours.
Oh no, proof that I, as a Red Sox fan, said I liked the Valentine hire! But the main point I made was that the Red Sox, at the beginning of the season at least, were a veteran team and I didn’t think a rookie manager was the right fit. You cannot say that everyone knew 2012 was going to be a rebuilding year for Boston. It only became that after they traded away some of their huge, veteran contracts, which, by the way, was probably the right move based on the way things were going.
I had hoped that Valentine mellowed out or matured a bit after his experiences at ESPN and in Japan. The Sox had been labelled as undisciplined and I hoped Valentine would be hard but smart. Well, he failed miserably at being smart.
The Valentine hiring is a symptom of the front office’s bunglings, not a cause in itself of the team now being worse than it was a year ago. They undercut him directly, by allowing players to go over his head to bitch about anything he tried to do, and indirectly by forcing him to take coaches he didn’t know and trust - and they undermined him, too. How can you manage a team if your bench coach, who’s supposed to be your closest confidant, your bullpen coach, and your pitching coach won’t even fucking talk to you, and you can’t do anything about it? How can you deal with players resting on their contracts instead of even staying in fucking shape? And with ones like Aceves, who have made a point of showing up the manager but you can’t even discipline? If the team even keeps Tm Bogar or Gary Tuck around, much less makes either the manager, that will reward their behavior - and the team will be led by someone who can’t accept that level of responsibility. So, now they have to hire not only a manager but an entire coaching staff, or else the failures will continue.
Then there’s the serious talent shortage both on the roster, especially the rotation, and in the minors. The front office has been infatuated for years with the shit Bill James peddles, and has neglected basic scouting, drafting, and coaching/development. Losing focus on *basic baseball *has hurt the organization badly, as has its arrogance.
Cherington isn’t the primary culprit, no, John Henry is, but Cherington has been a huge part of the leadership failures. He wasn’t behind the Valentine hiring, but needed to man up and make it work instead of working to undercut him. He failed in a way that can’t be made right, so he needs to go. But most of all, Henry either has to either take charge himself, or pick someone to be in complete charge and give him complete personnel authority. Firing Valentine won’t make any difference if they don’t fix the front office leadership problem and the basic baseball problem.
I love Valentine, I love the Sox, I love Bill James, but this was a perfect storm of disaster. Everyone screwed up, and I think the villain was the players. Specifically, the players’ arrogance, which is a good thing when you’re winning. When Francona lost control over the players, there was nowhere to go but down. They went down like a twenty-buck hooker under Francona, so the upper management decided to correct the players’ uncorrectable attitude problems with a disciplinarian, which flat-out didn’t work. They only recourse was to fire players, which they’ve done, pretty much, and at this point, there’s no longer any need for a disciplinarian. The Sox have the good sense to recognize that and, zillion-dollar salary or no, they’re going to have to cut Bobby V loose. Too bad, he’ll probably never manage again, and he’s actually quite skillful at it.
That too was the front office’s fault, for letting him go into the last year of his contract. The players correctly took that as a sign that the front office wasn’t behind him and wouldn’t support him. You can’t undercut your manager even indirectly, you have to have his back or else you have to fire him.
I have to say that refusing to let a manager pick the coaching staff is always a touchy way to start off a regime. You maybe get away with it when you are giving a young buck his first try at the reins, but a old, experienced guy like Valentine? It makes no sense. You’re either buying into his way, or you should just go with someone else.
I think the primary problem was the players, not the manager. Not this year or last year.
They players were a huge problem, yes. But Bobby V. compounded that problem immensely with poor management. It started with the Youkilis stuff and just kept on going until very recently when he threw his entire coaching staff under the bus. There is a way to manage difficult people without pissing them off. Unfortunately, Bobby couldn’t figure that out.
More to the point, Bobby pulled his coaches under the bus with him. And he had every right; this is not a new topic. He kept quiet about it in public a lot longer than he should.
Let’s not forget that Lucchino brought him in to kick the asses of guys who had become complacent, too inclined to relax on the DL, not just the clubhouse beer-drinkers (btw, why the fuck does John Lackey still have a uniform?). While that may not be a fair assessment of Youk, he’d been an underachiever when he wasn’t hurt with something or other for the last couple of years. I actually wish Bobby had been more forceful about it, in a way that would get the guys’ attention, but apparently Youk was just one of the many who whined to Cherington about it and got Bobby to have to claim he had been misinterpreted. That became a pattern all year.
You can knock Bobby for not insisting harder on getting to manage the way he wanted to, though. That’s on him. This wasn’t the only job he could ever get.
When a team is aging out, getting soft and lazy it’s up to management to see it coming and prepare accordingly. Sometimes you just suck it up and force the process of rebuilding before it starts itself. It became too painfully apparent to the RS management well into a lost season. I guess they thought that an old retread like Valentine could work magic with their bunch of players. A season that maybe could have been interesting just turned into a disaster with Valentine insisting on sticking his foot further down his throat. Did he inspire anyone? Did he alienate . . . oh, never mind.
Unless something dramatic happens and they find some magic, next year doesn’t look promising. Maybe they can make something happen. So what I’m saying is that next season should have been this season which puts them at least a year behind the rebuilding that has to be done.