Ill-Fated Marriage Ends in Divorce After One Season
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox have fired manager Bobby Valentine after just one season.
Boston finished the 2012 season last in the American League East with a record of 69-93, the worst for the storied franchise since a 62-100 mark in 1965. He had one year remaining on the contract he signed last winter.
"Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington in a statement Thursday. "No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame."
The disastrous record wasn't the only problem for Valentine, who was back in a big league dugout for the first time since 2002. He had issues with some of his coaching staff and a few players during the trying campaign.
After the team's meltdown last September, in which a 7-20 record denied the team a playoff berth, the Red Sox parted ways with Terry Francona and hoped the change to Valentine would help restore the luster of two World Series championships.
It didn't. The Red Sox started with three straight losses, never really contended after a 4-10 start and went on to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
"This season was by far the worst we have experienced in over 10 years here," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "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."
Valentine kept three members of Francona's coaching staff, and in a radio interview on Wednesday before the season finale against the Yankees said he didn't feel full loyalty from all of his coaches during the season. He didn't mention any names.
It was, likely, the last straw in what had long been rumored -- Valentine's ouster.
"Bobby leaves the Red Sox's manager's office with our respect, gratitude, and affection," said Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino. "I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well."
Player issues evolved early in the season when Valentine, on April 15, questioned whether Kevin Youkilis had been playing with the same passion as in the past. He quickly apologized, particularly after Dustin Pedroia came to Youkilis' defense. Youkilis was eventually traded to the Chicago White Sox in June.
In mid-August, reports surfaced about a meeting players had with ownership regarding Valentine. It had been speculated that the players asked management for a managerial change in the late July meeting.
Reports had indicated that players were upset when Valentine left pitcher Jon Lester in a blowout game on July 22, a game in which the left-hander gave up 11 runs. Owner John Henry and Pedroia acknowledged that meetings took place, but both denied that players asked for Valentine's removal.
The Red Sox also had plenty of key injuries during the season. Andrew Bailey, acquired from Oakland to be the club's closer, underwent thumb surgery just before the start of the season and didn't return until August, while outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury missed most of the first three months because of a dislocated shoulder. Pedroia also battled a thumb injury and David Ortiz missed the last 2 1/2 months because of an Achilles problem.
With the club quickly fading from contention in late August, the Red Sox then orchestrated one of the biggest post-waiver trades in baseball history by dealing first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"We've been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club," Cherington added. "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."
Valentine spent six-plus seasons as manager of the New York Mets and parts of eight seasons as skipper of the Texas Rangers. He has an overall big league record of 1,186-1,165 and guided the Mets to the 2000 World Series.
"I understand this decision," said Valentine in the club's release. "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."
The Connecticut native also spent time as a manger in Japan, winning the Japan Series title in 2005.