Friday, May 11, 2012

The Neutering of Bobby Valentine

I read a great article by John Tomase on the Boston Herald online this morning titled, “Light ‘em up, Bobby Valentine. Time for manager to live up to his legend.”  It summed up better than I could my feelings about what may be the biggest shortcoming in a season full of them: namely, our new manager has failed to do the job he was hired to do, or be the person he was reported to be.  Check it out here:

This article inspired me to put together a little timeline of my own off the top of my head, which has led to where we are with our new manager.

- Bobby V is hired to turn around the culture in a clubhouse that had become entitled and lackadaisical at the end of 2011.  His history of being a fiery, passionate personality who is not afraid to speak his mind seems perfect for the role of calling out and changing the behavior of complacent veterans on the roster

- Bobby V claims every team member should ride the bus during spring training because that’s what teams do

- Bobby V then sends a limo to pick up Beckett

- Valentine’s off-hand remark about Youkilis’ physical and emotional commitment blows up into our first controversy of 2012 regular season

- Pedroia fires back at his new manager “that’s not how we do things here.  Maybe that works in Japan”.  Bobby V was hired precisely to change how we do things here, but a team leader kills his authority with these remarks.  Instead of firing back or benching Pedroia for insubordination, Bobby V meekly apologizes to everyone involved.  He hasn’t made a fiery remark since, unless you count a small tirade up the home plate umpire the other night

- Bobby V gets ripped by fans and media for leaving pitchers in the game for too long, for leaving left-handed Franklin Morales in to face lefty-killer Mike Napoli, and for other decisions regarding his management of the bullpen.  Notice now that the bullpen has stabilized and is actually a strength of this team, there hasn’t been any voices that I’ve heard giving Bobby V any credit.

- He has been repeating the same tired lines in press conferences all year about how “this team is talented. The players are battling and trying hard.  We’re going to turn this thing around.  We’re going to get better”, yada, yada, yada

- He could not muster up enough emotion to get ejected from Wednesday night’s game after the Cody Ross no-catch call, or for the inconsistent strike zone of the home plate umpire.  He could have shown his team and all of RSN how much he cares by going beserk, but instead he decided to meekly walk back to the dugout and fire off a few f-bombs in his post-game presser in front of the media

- When the story about Beckett and Buchholz golfing on their off-day first broke, Valentine commented that “obviously that would not be a good thing for someone with a lat injury to do”. After Beckett was shellacked at home on Thursday night, Bobby V back-pedaled and said basically that nobody gets hurt playing golf, it was fine, we’re fine with it, there is no problem here.

- The Red Sox have lost 11 of 12 at home and 7 of 8 overall, and Bobby V hasn’t shown any outrage.  He has yet to get ejected from a game.  He has yet to directly address his team’s poor play and show that it upsets him.  He has yet to call out any player or pitcher (or any group of players) and say they need to perform better.  He has yet to bench a player for poor play.

- I’m sure I’ve forgotten other examples.  If you think of any to contribute, submit them in the comments section below.

Add this all up, and clearly this guy has been worn down to a nub in little over a month in Boston.  It appears he no longer has the clout in the clubhouse to initiate change.  The entitled veterans of 2011’s collapse are still on the roster and are still just as apathetic and lackadaisical.  It is becoming clear that Bobby V does not have what it takes to change the clubhouse culture, which was the entire reason he was hired in the first place.  Of all the problems facing the 2012 Red Sox, this may be the biggest of all.  In my opinion, the dark cloud of negativity that surrounds this team can’t be lifted until somebody blows up emotionally and sparks this team to a few wins.  I used to think Bobby V was the kind of guy who could do this sort of thing.  Now I’m not so sure.


  1. I think we may have a misconception of what Bobby V was or is. He was never a strict disciplinarian. He has never been afraid to call people out in the media, but he's not a get in your face fiery type of guy.

  2. Don't forget about the situation in spring training when the veterans of the team had a revolt because Bobby V got after Mike Aviles. When this report first came out most of you said "oh no that can't be true". It doesn't seem so far fetched now does it? I guarantee you that spring training revolt story was accurate.

  3. Bobby V was brought in to make a bunch of whiners shape up and meet some probably unrealistic expectations. It probably wasn't destined to go well.

    I've never gotten the sense that the whole organization was fully committed to Bobby V, win or lose. From my very faraway perspective, I wonder how much that impacts the players' respect for him.

    1. What this team needs right now is a polarizing moment that forces them to come together as a team, including their manager and coaching staff. The obvious choice is a brawl, but an us against the world mentality might do the trick too.

      It also looks to me like the baseball operations office (Cherington & Co.) are trying to change Bobby V. into something that he is not. They're are trying to Franconize him. That's right I just made up a new term!! Haha

    2. I totally agree. I would have loved to have seen Bobby V bench Middlebrooks mid-game last night for dragging his butt for a second time (this one on the double play), but I don't think he has the support from the players, fans, or management to do that.

      Then again, how can I criticize Middlebrooks for doing that, when Papi does his half-jog on groundouts to second?

    3. Middlebrooks is nursing a sore hamstring too. That may have been a factor. We have no way of knowing this, but perhaps he's been told to take it easy when possible to avoid further damage to the hammy.

    4. With Middlebrooks being in and out of the lineup with hamstring issues, it is very likely the answer to the jog to first. This being the " second time" Matt refers to I believe is an reference to Middlebrooks not running at all on his fly ball that fell fair in the LF corner, when Will thought it was a foul ball. I would chalk this up a to a mental error( a bad one) rather than lack of hustle. However, if Middlebrooks ever did that again,I cannot believe he would, I would be all in favor of the manager pulling him from the game.

      As far as Papi, no question for several years now, he has made a habit of jogging the first on groundouts. This year, however, I have not noticed this even once. The slimmed down Ortiz is running the bases like he is trying out for the Millrose games. For the record, I also would not object to the manager pulling Ortiz or any one else not hustling.