How long can Bobby Valentine last in Boston as the manager of the Red Sox?
If it were up to the majority of Red Sox fans, he would be gone already. Valentine was not the popular pick when the Sox named him as manager last fall. In fact, Valentine is never a popular choice among most fans because of his reputation of being a loud mouth and a self promoter.
Over the years, there have been many players who would run threw a wall for Bobby. But there are also many who would like to throw him threw a wall. Last week, Valentine made the mistake of criticizing Kevin Youkilis. Most of what Valentine said was taken out of context but it did not stop the Boston faithful from casting stones.
Boston has gotten off to a terrible start. They are sitting in the bottom of the AL East with a 4-10 record, 4.5 games behind the Yankees and Blue Jays who are tied for the division lead. And to make matters worse, the Red Sox were thoroughly embarrassed by the Yankees this past weekend, first spoiling the 100th anniversary of Fenway park then coming back late from a 9-0 deficit to clobber the Sox 15-9. Every time Bobby came out to remove a pitcher, which was often, the crowd booed him mercilessly.
As if it was Bobby’s fault that he can’t pitch himself or that no one on the team can pitch at all. As if it was his fault that former GM Theo Epstein abandoned his ways of building a winner by embracing the philosophy of giving out ridiculous contracts to players more concerned about their personal stats than playing as a team. As if it was Bobby’s fault that the Red Sox failed miserable at the end of last season, missing the post season as a wild card when they had a gargantuan lead at the end of August. Yes, I understand Bobby can be one pain in the ass but none of this mess formerly known as the class of the American League is his fault. None of it.
The Red Sox, like the Mets and Yankees, have a very intelligent fan base. It’s a bit surprising to me they are giving Valentine such a hard time. Were they not paying attention to the way the Sox started and ended the 2011 season? Did they really think giving Carl Crawford 140 million over 7 years was a good idea or giving Jon Lackey a huge contract made a lot of sense? This is a case of Red Sox fans not believing what they are seeing. If they think the abrasive Valentine is the problem, what will they think if Bobby is sent packing and the next guy gets the same result?
The Red Sox are the latest case of a philosophy running awry. The Red Sox won two World Series in the past decade by building from within, making key trades, and signing the occasional free agent to fill a specific need. But after the second ring ceremony, Epstein fell into the trap of filling holes to the highest bidder. More and more, this is proving to be the kiss of death for long term success. It certainly happened to the Mets except for one thing. Omar Minaya never bothered to do the build from within part.
The Yankees always seem to confound the premise. They continue to win even though they have contracts that could cost them in the long run. Alex Rodriguez is earning absurd money and will do so into his early 40s. How long before CC Sabathia’s weight takes its toll on his legs. Even the golden boy, Derek Jeter could prove to be problematic at the end of his guaranteed contract. However, the Yanks continue to win, for now, and remain the exception to the rule.
Look at the consistent success of the Rangers, Cardinals, and Rays. They all have refrained from spending absurdly and giving out ridiculous contracts. The result has been to field a team that contends every season. The Rangers have been in the last two World Series. The Cardinals defeated the Rangers in last year’s World Series. The Rays have been in the post season three of the last four seasons. No team that has spend themselves silly has consistently won anything over the past several years.
You look at the Nationals. They have a tremendous farm system that is ready to bear fruit. Hopefully the Mets are following in their path. The Red Sox were the model of how to build a franchise for a very long time. But now their farm has dried up with too many attempts to patch problems the fast and easy way through free agency. Now Boston is paying for the sins of Theo Epstein but the person who will ultimately pay is Bobby V. and that just is not fare.