I was wrong.
I thought Bobby Valentine, and all of the color he brings with him, was going to pull this off in Boston.
He needed to reshape his legacy (mediocrity) as a manager and the Red Sox offered him, based on recent history, probable success.Well, nothing went as planned, from Day 1.With hindsight being 20-20, here are 10 reasons why Valentine was in deep over his head:
1. He needed a gig
Valentine looked desperate from the start. Sure, all out-of-work managers are desperate, but Valentine went on a public mission, through his contacts in the media, to be Terry Francona’s replacement. It appeared to be a guy who really wanted the job.
Now it appears, he needed it more.
2. Mets are not Yanks
We were fooled. We thought because he had been through the wringer in New York, as manager of the Mets, he would know how to handle “Boston” and all of the scrutiny that comes with it.
We have come to find out the Mets and Yankees are different animals. The pressure of the Mets pales in comparison to that of the Red Sox and Yankees.
3. Talks too much
We all knew Valentine liked to hear himself speak.
That was OK, because a lot of people in baseball really like him. But too often he felt the need to say what was exactly on his mind.
While that’s good for people in my business, it’s not good for the people in Valentine’s business.
The comments about Kevin Youkilis in mid-April — that he was not into it mentally or physically — were probably true. But you can’t tell us about it
4. No respect, no job
It’s not about not liking Valentine, because I think he is a nice guy, but when your players and coworkers (see coaches) don’t respect you, it is over.
The fact that the Red Sox allowed Alfredo Aceves to remain with the team after his several displays of repute for Valentine told us volumes.
You can’t allow that to happen on a high school team, never mind a major league squad.
Valentine apparently tried to win over his players, but they never bit the bait.
5. Beckett was there
This wasn’t Valentine’s fault. In fact, this move, keeping him on the roster after last September’s debacle, may have doomed Valentine before he even started. Josh Beckett was a problem.
He was not happy being questioned here.
Heck, he wasn’t happy period. Beckett, unfortunately, was a de facto team leader and apparently led a brigade of players who decided Valentine was not the guy they wanted.
Terry Francona at his best would have been lucky to win 85 games with all of the injuries the Red Sox sustained almost since Opening Day. The Sox lost their closer (Andrew Bailey).
They lost their MVP candidate (Jacoby Ellsbury). They lost a potential all-star (Carl Crawford). And they lost their best hitter (David Ortiz). That’s too many key players away for too many games.
7. Bad pitching
The injury bug may have killed the lineup and the closer, but the Red Sox pitching, particularly the starting staff, was simply awful. Jon Lester was the biggest disappointment, losing big game after big game.
He finished 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA.
He appeared to have a little “Beckett” in him, which means he didn’t appear to be having fun. Clay Buchholz was decent at times (11-8, 4.52) and so was Felix Dubront (11-10, 4.86), but neither took the bull by the horns when any spark was needed. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who ended the season at 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA, represented the worst of the worst of what Valentine had to work with.
8. Not Ben’s guy
Simply put, Valentine was brought in a short-timer. The coaching staff, for the most part, was not his coaching staff. The fact that everybody with a pulse knew that Valentine was not GM Ben Cherington’s first choice (heck, he wasn’t even his third choice) didn’t help Valentine’s cause. The GM and manager, especially when they are new on the job, must be on the same page. The fact that Valentine didn’t see eye-to-eye with Cherington about Daniel Bard’s role or the fact that he wanted the young players (Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway) with the club in April, was not a good start to their relationship. This was an arranged marriage that never had a shot, particularly with Valentine’s strong personality.
9. The trade
Cherington dumped $250 million in salaries when he dealt away Beckett, Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, which was good for the team, but not so good in the win-loss column. Gonzalez was the key loss. Even though his attitude was dour, he was probably the best all-around hitter on the team. The July trade ended any shot of a Wild Card spot, which basically ended Valentine’s tenure.
10. Didn’t trust anybody
You can’t do it alone. Just ask Terry Francona, who had so much help — and coaches he trusted — you wonder how much credit he really deserves. Valentine did it alone. He never appeared to have anybody really on his side, players or coaches. Boston is very difficult place to manage. And there are way too many personalities involved. If you don’t have a lot of support, you aren’t going to make it.
Part of it was Valentine’s problem. And part of it was, well, he probably couldn’t trust everybody. In the end, he was doomed for failure, which the Red Sox brass probably figured.
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.