The Red Sox have fired Bobby Valentine after the franchise’s worst season in decades. The Sox were 69-93 and finished in last place in the American League East.
Not since 1934 have the Red Sox fired a manager after only one season. But the 62-year-old Valentine was controversial choice to replace Terry Francona and his tenure proved rocky.
Valentine was not the choice of first-year general manager Ben Cherington. Team president Larry Lucchino engineered the deal after the Red Sox interviewed five other candidates, believing the 62-year-old Valentine would restore order to a team that tuned out Francona and collapsed down the stretch in 2011.
But the situation grew worse. Valentine had almost no allies within the organization beyond Lucchino and a handful of players.
Now the pressure will fall squarely on GM Ben Cherington to reverse the fortunes of a team that has plunged to the bottom of the American League.
The Red Sox have missed the playoffs for three seasons in a row and have not won a playoff game since 2008. Eighteen teams in the majors have qualified for the postseason since the Red Sox last did.
The Red Sox will start 2013 with their third manager in as many years. To end that George Steinbrenner-like disarray, the next choice must be a good one.
John Farrell, who has had a rocky two seasons as Toronto’s manager after spending five years as the Red Sox pitching coach, may be the team’s first choice if the Blue Jays are willing to let him go.
The release from the Red Sox:
The Boston Red Sox today announced, following a meeting among team leaders and Manager Bobby Valentine, that Bobby will not return in 2013. A search for a new manager will begin immediately.
“Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons,” said Executive Vice-President/General Manager Ben Cherington, who made the announcement and who will lead the search. “No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. We’ve been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club. With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”
The Red Sox used 56 players in 2012, the most in club history. Their 9-player blockbuster trade August 25 with the Los Angeles Dodgers was their largest in 40 years.
“This year’s won-loss record reflects a season of agony,” said Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino. “It begs for changes, some of which have already transpired. More will come. We are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade.
“Difficult as it is to judge a manager amid a season that had an epidemic of injuries, we feel we need to make changes. Bobby leaves the Red Sox’ manager’s office with our respect, gratitude, and affection. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well.”
Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner said, “This season was by far the worst we have experienced in over ten years here. Ultimately, we are all collectively responsible for the team’s performance. We are going to be working tirelessly to reconstruct the ballclub for 2013. We’ll be back.
“We thank Bobby for the many contributions he made and for the energy he brought each day. He is a baseball man through and through.”
Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry said, “In our meeting with Bobby today, he handled everything with dignity and class, and it is deeply appreciated. Ultimately, we as owners are responsible for arming our organization with the resources — intellectual, physical, and financial — to return to the levels of competitiveness to which we aspire and to which our fans are accustomed. Our commitment to winning is unwavering. It is a commitment to this team, to this city, and to these fans who have supported us through thick and thin.
“We have confidence in Ben Cherington and the kind of baseball organization he is determined to build.”
“I understand this decision,” said Valentine. “This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation.
“It was a privilege to be part of the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park and an honor to be in uniform with such great players and coaches. My best to the organization. I’m sure next year will be a turnaround year.”