Over at Baseball Nation, Rob Neyer has an excellent piece on the precarious position Bobby Valentine has put himself in with the Boston Red Sox. At the end, he asks his readers whether Valentine will make it through the year as the Red Sox manager. At the time of this writing, 66% of the 571 readers who responded said no.
Now, Rob Neyer is the type of writer who attracts a certain type of reader and those readers are not typically predisposed to liking Bobby Valentine, so there could be some bias here. Neyer broke into the baseball writing world as Bill James’ research assistant and as such, he is firmly aligned with the “sabermetric” camp of baseball analysis. Those who have cheer-leaded for Bob Valentine, including Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe and Jon Heyman, who Neyer cites in his piece, tend to prefer the more traditional line of thought on statistics and game management. That said, the fact that a sizable majority of readers thinks Valentine will be fired mid-season says a great deal about how bad the situation is perceived to be.
After all, Bobby Valentine was not choosen lighty. GM Ben Cherington led a month long search to find a replacement for Terry Francona, interviewing at least four other candidates before settling on Valentine. As controversial as the choice was, it certainly did not happen without a great deal of thought.
Those who supported Valentine saw him as someone who could lay down the law in a clubhouse that had become undisciplined and unfocused. Critics worried that his more traditional approach to the game would jive with the extremely progressive Boston Red Sox front office and that his penchant for running his mouth to the media would be an issue in the sports-crazed Boston market. Thus far, those critics’ worst fears have basically all come true and there are serious questions about his ability to finish the season at the helm.
The Red Sox have just won three out of four against their division rival, the Tampa Bay Rays, losing the last game 1-0 to just miss the sweep. They have played their best baseball since the season began over the past four days and yet, the entire focus these past two days has been on Bobby Valentine and his antics. It did not help that he left Daniel Bard in after a four pitch walk to walk in the only run without so much as getting a reliever up in Monday’s loss, despite obvious signs that he was tiring. Still,Boston fans and Boston players should be feeling pretty good as the team gets ready for a two game series against the Texas Rangers and that is hardly the case. If Valentine is raising doubts about his ability to lead the team even when they are playing well, he may not last the month, never mind the year.