Red Sox Fire Manager Bobby Valentine After Disastrous 2012 Season
In Valentine’s only season as Red Sox skipper, the team finished with a 69-93 record, the franchise’s worst in 47 years.
This year’s won-loss record reflects a season of agony,” Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino said in a press release on the Red Sox’s team website. “It begs for changes, some of which have already transpired. More will come. We are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade.
Now, one of baseball's most storied franchises is looking for its third manager in three years. According to reports, the Red Sox are targeting current Toronto Blue Jays manager John Harrell as Valentine's replacement. The Red Sox need the Blue Jays' permission to speak with Harrell, but he looks to be at the top of the organization's list.
Valentine was viewed as a risky hire from the start.
After squandering a nine-game wild card lead to miss the playoffs in 2011, the team fired manager Terry Francona and brought in Valentine. Not always popular with his own players in his previous MLB stops, Valentine came in with a reputation for being a "genius", but also was known for his fiery and aggressive managing style.
Before the season, there was talk of how Valentine's managing style could alienate his players. It's doubtful that anyone could have imagined such a train wreck of a season as this past one though.
The first strike was Valentine's criticism of longtime Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis, stating that Youkilis "wasn't as into the game" as before. The veteran's play and unhappiness with the organization resulted to his trade to the Chicago White Sox in June.
Other rumors of the team's disgruntlement continued throughout the entire season, and an onslaught of injuries crippled the team's performance on the field. Making over $47 million combined in 2012, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Carl Crawford each missed over half of the season to injuries, while John Lackey missed the season after having Tommy John surgery. Many of the team's other stars, including David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, also spent time on the DL.
In July, Red Sox ownership met to decide whether Valentine's position in the organization. No decisions came from the meeting, but during the season's final week, it looked like Valentine knew his stay in Boston would be a short one.
On Wednesday morning, the day of the Red Sox's final game, Valentine said on a Boston radio station that he felt some Red Sox coaches had undermined him at times during the season. While some of those same coaches might also be let go, the bold statement showed that Valentine was unafraid to burn any bridges on his way out.
“I understand this decision,” said Valentine. “This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation."
The public statement may be professional and polite, but one could bet Valentine has some harsher words to say off the record. For a Red Sox franchise new looking to rebuild both its team and and its reputation, the feeling is probably mutual.