Bobby Valentine’s tenure as Boston’s manager has been an inauspicious one to say the least. The Red Sox, like last year, have come out of the gate very slowly as their 4-8 record would indicate, but they were able to overcome the poor early season showing last year only to implode and collapse at season’s end.
They might not be able to come out of their funk this year however. We know a lot has to do with their starting pitching, aging players, a new G.M., and the loss of Jonathan Papelbon, but a more glaring distraction seems to be their new manager. There are three things that Bobby V. is in danger of losing: the fans, his team, and his job. The first two are barely hanging on by a loose thread. The Red Sox fans have been up in arms with Valentine ever since his calling out of long time fan favorite Kevin Youkilis. This is what second baseman Dustin Pedroia, another very popular player had to say about Valentine: “I really don’t know what Bobby is trying to do. That’s not the way we go about our stuff around here. . . . Maybe that works in Japan.”
The fans have taken Valentine’s remarks to heart and showed their emotions again last night when the veteran manager was on the way to the mound after calling for a reliever. The boos rang out until he was back in the dugout. Red Sox nation hasn’t been this upset since they heard about the firing of long time manager Terry Francona following their fall from grace late last season. The fact that the jeers have grown over the last two games and can be heard every time Bobby comes out of the dugout is not a healthy situation.
Valentine’s players, given Pedroia’s sentiments, are clearly confused with what to make of their new skipper. When pressed by the media on Wednesday as to what his reasoning might be for his remarks to Youkilis, Valentine said that his comments were not a motivational ploy, just a mistake he apologized for; an apology that some have referred to as disingenuous. Since his remarks about Youkilis came out, the Red Sox have not won a game. Sounds to me like if Valentine was trying to get his players more ‘motivated’- it hasn’t worked.
After losing the last game in the Tampa Bay series, the Red Sox lost a two game series to the Texas Rangers and now face the daunting task of doing battle with the hated New York Yankees in a weekend three game series. No easy task. The three pitchers going for the Sox this weekend will be no one that will strike any fear into the hearts and minds of the Yankees. They are Buchholtz, Doubront, and Bard. All together the three have a 1-2 record with a combined ERA of 6.61.
Could there be another Boston Massacre in the offing? It wouldn’t be totally out of the question given the morale of the Red Sox players and the three pitchers slated to start. It will be very interesting to hear how the crowd reacts to their players and to Valentine as they play host to the Yankees. The best case scenario for the Red Sox and their fans would be to sweep or at best go 2-3 against their rivals. The worst case would be a Yankees sweep in Beantown. I think if that were to happen the entire Red Sox Nation would be calling for the head of Bobby V.
I just don’t believe that Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox are a good fit. He has never won a thing, at least not in this country, and that makes it more difficult coming to a ball club that has. The success that Valentine had with the N.Y. Mets back in 2000, was a totally different situation. Most of those players were relatively young and inexperienced. A manager can get away more with call-outs and being more of a disciplinarian with that type of ball-club than with one that has been there and done that.
We’ll see how it goes over the coming days and weeks but I’m not convinced that playing with disgruntled players and doing it in front of angry fans is the best way to succeed. Winning usually solves a multitude of problems but they’re not even doing that. No, I think a disatrous weekend at home, on the club’s anniversary, in front of a sold out Fenway Park, could spell the beginning of the end of Bobby Valentine…