How could the Red Sox not have done their homework on Valentine? He has always ruffled feathers, always put his foot in his mouth, yet they seemed surprised.
Valentine’s style never went over completely with fans who wanted a more politically correct manager and players who wanted one who would be more supportive and never critical — the way Francona was for eight seasons.
While Red Sox owner John Henry said the poor play of the team was not Valentine’s fault, in the end Henry reserved the right to change his mind.
Cherington, who preferred Dale Sveum and Lamont over Valentine, did not recommend Valentine be the manager, despite public comments by Lucchino that Cherington made the hiring. We never bought that one, nor did we buy that Valentine wanted all the holdover coaches that Cherington “recommended” he consider.
Valentine never trusted the holdovers and vice-versa. It was a terrible arrangement from the start. Pitching coach Bob McClure was eventually fired and Randy Niemann, one of Valentine’s coaches, was named pitching coach.
Valentine and the Red Sox had to be relieved once the decision was made. Valentine is out of a chaotic situation — a season in which 56 players were used by the Sox and 27 went on the disabled list. It certainly wasn’t worth waiting 10 years for, as Valentine did for a major league managing job after being fired by the Mets in 2002.
Valentine was unable to do a lot of things he’d done in other places. He had to adhere to instructional methods that were already in place.
While the Red Sox thought Gary Tuck’s method for teaching catching was superior, Sox catchers didn’t get appreciably better. Valentine has his own ways to teach catchers, but he wasn’t able to implement them.
“You’d think they would listen to a guy with almost 40 years in the game,” said one baseball official. “You’ve got to be open to everything. And when you hire Bobby, his whole way of doing things comes with him. If you cut his legs out from under him, what’s the point in hiring him in the first place?”
So the new manager will come into something of a hornet’s nest, because there is no telling how — or if — Cherington will rebuild to put in place the kind of competitive roster Valentine never had. Cherington will have to make prudent decisions, even though he has a history of helping to spend exorbitant amounts of money to buy players like Crawford.
If the Sox are able to obtain Farrell, the feeling is that he would be able to get through to Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and maybe even the comebacking John Lackey. The problem is, Farrell would be the manager, not the pitching coach. In Toronto, staff ace Ricky Romero took a downward turn this season.
Another problem Farrell had was that three starting pitchers were injured.
Farrell’s strategic moves were often criticized by the local media. But during a recent Blue Jays telecast, announcer Buck Martinez asked Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos whether he was comfortable with Farrell returning for the final year of his contract, and Anthopoulos answered yes.
Anthopoulos added that he felt consistency was important to the organization. Apparently, consistency is not as important to the Red Sox.
Valentine will walk away with a $2.5 million severance package, providing he adheres to a clause in his contract that prohibits him from bad-mouthing the Red Sox. How long the clause is in effect for is not known, but Lucchino wrote the language himself and Valentine signed off on it.
While we’re sure Valentine would have a lot to say, it probably won’t be until after he collects his money.
As we pointed out in a previous column, there are no game-changers among the current managerial candidates. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Sox sign the next manager for more than the two years they gave Valentine, which is a true sign of commitment.