Monday, April 16, 2012

Valentine Rips Youk

Well, we are nine games into Bobby V's tenure as manager of the Red Sox and he has already made one of his trademark "throw a player under a bus" comments to the media.  Valentine told WHDH-TV on Sunday in regards to Kevin Youkilis that, "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason".  Youkilis responded this morning by stating, "I'm more surprised than anything.  That's not what I see. I go out every day and play as hard as I can.  The only time my emotion has ever been questioned is when I've been too emotional."  Dustin Pedroia, upon getting to the clubhouse this morning fired back at Bobby V saying, "I really don't know what Bobby is trying to do but that's not the way we go about our stuff around here.  Maybe that works in Japan".


Now that the Patriot's Day lineups have been released, we see that Youkilis is not in the lineup, and instead Nick Punto is hitting 7th and playing 3B.  Clearly Youk did something to piss Bobby V off.  We officially have our second Red Sox controversy of the season (first being should we move Bard back to the closer, answered by Fettuccine nailing home two saves recently) - a rite of spring up there with red-breasted robins and The Masters.  The Sox media and Twitter are buzzing around this story like flies on a hambone left in the sun.


**Update***: Bobby V's response during his media briefing this morning, "There's a perception that I'm going to criticize players in the paper or in the press, so as soon as I say something that's construed as criticism, it's going to be misinterpreted.  I totally apologized. The last thing I want Youk to think is that I was questioning him."  It was not a managerial tactic, Valentine said, "That wasn't meant to motivate."  Valentine initially approached Youkilis about a groin that was sore on Sunday, which is why Youkilis is out of the lineup, according to Valentine.  Sounds like Bobby V is back-pedaling faster than Darrelle Revis.  No no!  Nothing to see here!  We're fine!  Youk's groin is tweaked, nothing more!


A few takeaways from my perspective, before the Valentine remarks this morning:



- Youkilis seems to be Valentine's first target.  First Youk got benched after two games and two 0-fers.  Now he gets ripped in the media before being told to his face.  Now he gets benched again.  Does Valentine think that ripping a player motivates them to prove him wrong?  Or can he just not filter his mouth when being interviewed by the press?  It will be interesting to see how Youk responds on the field and in the batters box.  Will the added thoughts rattling around in his huge cranium affect him?  Or will he just keep being Youk?


- I read the readers' comments under a boston.com story earlier in the season when Youk was really struggling and they were saying they thought he was the snitch last year about the chicken and beer and they thought Youk was a whiner about being moved back to 3B and his teammates don't like him.  Did Bobby V sense a disconnect with Youk and decide to put his thumb on it early in the season?  Or was that all wild speculation on the part of the boston.com readers?  Probably the latter.


- Is there something going on off the field that the rest of us don't know about?  Is Youk going out and getting drunk at night too often a la Ozzie Guillen?  Is he over-weight?  Has he refused to take extra grounders at 3B that Babby V wants?  The way Pedroia immediately fired back a protective comment almost felt like he was over-reacting, a little too much "there's nothing to see here!  Move along people!"


- Speaking of Pedroia's quote, I found it fascinating.  I love that it shows the leadership role that Pede has assumed with Varitek's retirement.  They should just get it over with and affix a "C" onto his jersey.  Love that guy.  But I also find it interesting that Pedroia would play the "maybe it worked in Japan" card already.  Maybe this is indicative of an underlying resentment at the way Valentine approaches the job with some of the old guard Sox players.  Like if they would really tell the truth, they hated Valentine's spring training regimen and don't like the way he does a lot of things.  Or maybe Bobby V wanted Pedroia to say something exactly like that to rally the players together under a common banner?  Maybe he felt a disconnect in the clubhouse that might be fixed by uniting under a 'that's not how we do business' motto?  Or maybe I'm over-analyzing.  Well if you can't over-analyze on a blog meant for just that, where can you?  


- Finally, Youk is in the last year of his contract, and even though the team has an option for 2013, with Will Middlebrooks fast becoming ready to play at the major league level, I would bet this is the last year in Boston for Youkilis.  Especially since that option would cost $13 million for a player with declining skills.  But if they are trying to audition him for a mid-season or off-season trade, then why decrease his value by saying he doesn't work as hard any more?  There is no way that Youk isn't our primary 3B at least until the trade deadline, and most likely all of 2012, so why start ripping him on April 16?

15 comments:

  1. The dark side of Bobby V has surfaced. Brandon you wrapped up this situation quite well. I also found Pedey's comments fascinating. I wouldn't give Bobby V any credit for wanting to bond the team. He is just a blow hard who can't help himself. The most frustrating part of this whole thing is that they are in the middle of a 3 game winning streak and all appears to be going well and now the manager has created a problem that didn't have to even exist. I'm sure Ben Cherington is fuming right now. Larry Lucchino needs to visit Bobby V and tell him to shut the eff up or else the team is going to limit his media appearances. If this type of stuff keeps up Valentine will not make it to the end of the year possibly even despite the fact that they will have a winning record when he gets fired. What a way to start Patriots Day. Now if the Sox lose today Valentine has set himself up to be the scapegoat. Idiot.

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    1. I realize that I was the one person in our family that was in favor of hiring Bobby V, but this type of thing is his biggest downfall. He does have some positives like working on fundamentals in spring training despite what the players want to do.

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  2. NESN's pregame coverage has kicked off with 20 straight minutes of Youk/Valentine/Pedroia and that's the problem with your manager saying stupid shit. Instead of everyone talking about how well they are playing they have to answer stupid questions about this new controversy.

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    1. Although this is fascinating television to watch for fans.

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    2. That's the double-edged sword of playing in Boston. By all accounts, they need to talk about this big story in the pre-game show, but don't you think they could maybe mention a little of the fact they have clobbered the Rays for three straight days? While the material of the pre-game show doesn't affect the players in the least, it certainly does temper the mojo surrounding the team that they had generated over the weekend.

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  3. Two things jump out at me over this first real Bobby V opens mouth flap. First, we might as well get used to it becuase Valentine is incapable of keeping his mouth shut or giving a short, concise response to any query. The vets on this team are going to have to play and win in spite of him. They also should realize if they had not bombed last year, they would still have Tito.

    Second, the response by Pedroia was very eye opening. " we don't do things that way here"... Pedroia will take no crap from anyone including Valentine, mor will some of the other vets. Hence, the back pedaling today by Bobby. Ironically, I believe the manager when he said it was not a managerial motivation tactic. It wasn't...it was just him running his mouth. But why now with Youk, he looked way better this weekend at the plate.

    I stand by my prediction that even if( when) the Sox win the 2012 World Series, Valentine will still be gone before the end of 2013.

    Strap in for the ride, Red Sox Nation

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  4. Talk about not being into the game...holy crap. Valentine sits on his ass when he should be setting the tone for the season early on about by challenging calls and firing his ball team up. I am unimpressed by a wide margin. Today...he waits at least two batters too many before pulling his started who did an absolute great job on Patriots Day. If I were a betting man, I would say that Coach V will shove his foot so far into his mouth by July that there will be talks about getting rid of him. Happy Patriots Day!!

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  5. Valentine may not make it to the end of the week the way he is going. He certainly has had a bad 24 hours. Let's hope the Deacon is right and this team can win despite him, but with a loss today it's only going to get worse in the short term. let's hope they can pull this one out today to save us all from having to hear everyone talk about this until the next win. If they go on a losing streak everyone will blame the manager and rightly so.

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    1. I've always liked Valentine, and in a perverse sort of way, this might not be such a bad thing. Valentine can draw a lot of (maybe even all) the attention to himself, and that can take away some of the pressure of playing in Boston. Right now everyone seems to be mad at Valentine, and no one seems to be mad at Youk, who is hitting like Jose Iglesias (.265 OBP, .233 SLG).

      Plus, Valentine was brought in, in part, to shape up a group of guys who had gotten literally fat and lazy. Francona wouldn't and couldn't be the bad guy and draw the attention to himself last September, so everybody just wrote about how the Red Sox were choking -- which added a little more pressure.

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    2. Welcome to the Red Sox Maineiacs Blog Matt and thanks for posting your comments!

      I think during the manager search most of us wanted somebody hired who is very different from Francona - otherwise, why make the switch at all? And so they have hired somebody who certainly is different. Francona would never EVER talk poorly about a player to the press. Valentine is apparently not afraid of doing so, as we knew heading into this season. However, I'm with Art - I don't think his comments last night were an intentional effort to take heat off of Youkilis, motivate the team, or inflate his own persona. I just think a reporter asked him a question (Youk hasn't been Youk?) and Valentine answered it with the first thought that popped into his head (basically, yes, Youk has not been the player I have watched from the ESPN booth the last few years, for whatever reason). Nothing more.

      I do think he has the potential to be the kind of leader who takes the pressure off of his team from the media by putting it on his own shoulders. Kind of like Rex Ryan, although I hope to god he does it more tactfully than Sexy Rexy or I may stop following baseball altogether. But if Valentine was trying to take heat away from Youk, or he sensed that Youk may begin getting heat from the Boston media, the comments seemed ill-timed. Youk had actually shown signs of breaking out at the plate once the team returned to Fenway. He was 4 for 10 with 3 RBI and 3 BB's on the homestand (no extra-base hits, but still). Not to mention the team had won three in a row, scored 31 runs, had taken the lead in the AL in four major offensive categories, and was generally on a roll. In the end, if this was a motivational or take-the-fall ploy, then it was the worst-timed ploy in recent memory.

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    3. Both Art and Brandon make many points here that I agree with about the Red Sox manager. There is a clear adjustment period here while Bobby V gets a feel for what he has and the strengths and weaknesses of the team. My hope is that the team can take off once that happens and they all settle into their roles.

      Out of all the options that they interviewed this winter I felt strongly that Valentine was the best choice and I still believe that this can work. I hope very much that Valentine learns from this experience and starts to watch what he says a little more closely. Assuming that he's capable of that. Let's hope that he realizes that this may be his best/last chance at managing a winning team (in America) and he can learn from his mistakes and learn quickly.

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  6. Let me expand a bit on the vets will need to win in spite of the manager comment. What I was specifically talking about was an episode like the one which occurred the last 24 hours with the Youkilis comments. I meant the team is going to have to win in spite of Bobby V's outburst off the field. They will occur on a regular basis because he cannot give a concise or diplomatic answer to anything. Here is an off the wall example: The first Saturday in Detroit was a Fox telecast, during the obligatory manager in the dugout interview, one of announcers, McCarver, I think, asked Bobby how it felt to be back in the sanitary stockings. Instead of saying" yeah, it's great to be back managing", he goes on a 2 1/2 minute dissertation on how ball players used to wear sanitaries but today we actually wear...blah, blah, blah. He cannot help himself.

    However, his reputation as an in game manager is actually quite good, and I do not expect issues there. Did he leave Bard in too long, yes. You could tell he was gassed while walking Pena. But did you want Justin Thomas pitching to Pena or Albers to Longoria?

    As far as Matt's comment on Bobby V taking the heat off the team and onto himself, I do agree that may happen. I am not so sure he is doing it intentionally, but he could be. But as far as Valentine being brought in to shape up the Sox, one of the misconceptions about Valentine is that he is a disciplinarian. His record does not show that...the end of his Mets tenure was so out of control, he made the 2011 Tito look like 1967 Dick Willliams, there was even valid reports of drug use by Mets' team members.

    But all in all I still say what I said this spring when Curt Schilling was yapping about Valentine and the Sox. Give it some time, there is an adjustment still going on. But hopefully NESN's "The Bobby Valentine Show" is taped so they can edit it.

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  7. Art, you touched on a topic that could probably become its entire own post, but I'll begin to tackle it here. I don't blame Valentine for leaving Bard in. At all. I completely agree - who do you want facing Longoria, somebody who had sat him down three times already and twice by strikeout, or Matt Freaking Albers? Do you want a guy who already has his adrenaline pumping and in the moment to pitch in that spot, or a guy cold from the bullpen? All it would have taken is one pitch near the zone for Longoria to swing at and hit at somebody and the inning is over and it is a complete non-issue. If anything, Bobby V would be praised for having the balls to keep him in. I like the fact that Bobby V seems to be willing to stick with starters deeper into games than Tito did - he did the same with Lester in his Toronto start.

    Also, for what it is worth, I still don't blame Grady Little for leaving Pedro in either. It was Pedro Freaking Martinez (I double dipped on the Freaking middle names in this comment, so sue me)! There might not have been another man on the planet who you wanted to get that out that night. I know he was out of gas and struggling, but again, all it would have taken was one pitch to swing at from Pedro, and even if it resulted in a rocketed at-'em ball, he is out of the inning and Grady is a genius. I never understood the outrage over this. It is really easy to look back in hindsight from the comfort of your couch and say that was a bonehead decision.

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    1. It's cut and dry that Pedro should have been taken out by Grady Little and Daniel Bard should have been taken out by Valentine after he walked Pena. As it was happening it did cross my mind that you don't want to bring someone (especially Albers or Thomas) in cold with the bases loaded, but it was clear to anyone that was watching the game that Bard was totally gassed and had no chance of throwing a strike. So anyone facing Longoria in that exact situation would have been better than Bard. Bard had no chance of getting him out and Bobby V basically handed them that run. Now that doesn't mean that I blame Grady Little or Bobby V for either loss it's just more complicated than one play deciding a game.

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  8. BTW...Matt thanks for chiming in! I could feel our credibility growing as I read your comments. I agree that Bobby V can shake things up a little bit and that can be a good thing. I just wish he was smart enough to do it at the right time and not in the middle of a 3 game winning streak. Plus Valentine didn't seem like much of a "bad guy" while he was backpedaling and apologizing yesterday morning before the game.

    I do believe that this can turn into a positive for the team if it forces them to become closer and they can be stronger as a team going forward.

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