A while back, I wrote a blog about how Bobby Valentine had complained about players going behind his back to management. Now that episode has surfaced again as Yahoo! Sports reports that an Adrian Gonzalez text complaining about Valentine to Red Sox management led to a meeting between some of the key players on the team and Cherington & company. Players were upset with the manner in which Valentine humiliated starting pitcher Jon Lester by leaving him in a game against Toronto in which he gave up 11 runs and 4 homers.
The meeting occurred at the Palace Hotel in New York City on July 26th at 2 pm and included Gonzalez and Pedroia and other players. According anonymous to sources the meeting turned ugly quickly. Not all key Red Sox players were present.
What’s Valentine’s Fault?
Is it Valentine’s fault that the Boston Red Sox are performing at a sub-.500 level? I think the answer is no, it’s not his fault (at least not entirely). Let’s face it there’s a lot of blame to go around, including a slow start by Gonzalez, a terrible season by Josh Beckett and injuries galore. You can’t directly blame Valentine for that. If that’s the case should he be let go?
Well, the question becomes is winning the only part of management that counts and the other question is how is the ability to win affected by managing style, which includes how the guy at the helm handles players?
If you work on a professional level where motivating people to perform at a high level is part of the job, then you know that achievement is partly connected to your style. (At least that’s what I have found.) People don’t have to like you but they do have to respect and trust you and respect is not automatic. Valentine has time and again shown a disrespectful attitude towards players. Can he do that? Sure, he can. Is it effective? It depends. I think his style of disrespect comes off as being childish, catty and downright insulting for the sake of being insulting.
Here’s where Valentine has managed:
Texas Rangers (1985–1992)
Chiba Lotte Marines (1995) (NPB)
New York Mets (1996–2002)
Chiba Lotte Marines (2004–2009) (NPB)
Boston Red Sox (2012–Present)
The Chiba Lotte Marines are a Japanese team. In 15 MLB seasons he has managed a team to one pennant—the Mets took the NL flag in 2000. His overall record, including his time with the Red Sox, stands at 1174 W- 1134 L. He was a winner with the Mets going 536 and 467 (.534). But his personality tends to be one that thrives on conflict, ill will and self-aggrandizement.
Will Valentine Stay?
So, will Bobby Valentine stay at the helm of the Red Sox? I am going to say “no.” It’s not whether he’s a good or bad manager. That won’t be the issue. The issue will be can he still lead this team? The big problem is Valentine has lost the trust of many of the Red Sox key players. Trust and respect go hand-in-hand.
When it comes down to being practical, the Red Sox can dump Lester, Gonzalez, Pedroia and a few other stars or they can dump Valentine. Who would you dump? Finally, Ben Cherington, John Henry and the rest of the Red Sox brass say they are behind Valentine. That’s often a sure sign that the end is near for a manager.