Will he stay or will he go? Surely there are fellow fans out there who are still holding out hope that ownership will pull the plug on Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. John Henry's widely-circulated and much-discussed e-mail to media outlets probably won't do much to stem the discontent in Red Sox Nation.
Yes, Henry defended the beleaguered skipper, and made ownership's stance as clear as possible, saying "We are not making a change in manager." Nevertheless, when it becomes official that the Red Sox have failed to make the playoffs again (let's face it, it's too late for David Ortiz to singlehandedly rescue this team), it'll only further cement the first impression most fans had when Valentine first came to town.
Of course, Henry is right about baseball managers anyway. If this Red Sox team had somehow been sitting on top of the AL East pretty much all season long the way the Yankees have, it would have been in spite of Bobby V, not because of him. After all, he isn't the one on the mound or at the plate. For better or worse, Bobby V is (apparently) here to stay.
The real issue is the level of cognitive dissonance Red Sox fans are going to have to get over by the time another fruitless season ends. Josh Beckett's ugly transformation from hero to has-been was painful to watch, but he so thoroughly tarnished his brand that the Red Sox FO probably couldn't have separated from this toxic asset no matter how badly they might have wanted to. Combine that with an ambivalent Jon Lester, and the Red Sox pitching staff has essentially been decapitated.
Bobby V isn't solely responsible for the team's pitching problems, but neither are Bob McClure or Randy Niemann. That some fans chose to focus on minutiae like Beckett's warmup routine seems like an indication of just what's really wrong...namely, entitled players with over-sized contracts to match their over-sized egos. Of course, those contracts trace back to Theo Epstein, who wisely washed his hands and jumped ship.
Theo's the one who saddled the Red Sox with John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Bobby Jenks. Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez has a 4.57 slugging percentage and 11 homeruns for the year, while a return on investment from Carl Crawford still seems like a shaky prospect.
Considering Theo's results over the past decade, it's understandable that ownership would end up giving him a blank check. Unfortunately, Theo used it to buy a pair of cement shoes for the franchise. At this point, firing Bobby V and shaking up the coaching staff would amount to little more than a PR band-aid. Quick fixes aren't going to cut it. Instead of pretending to be GMs in Theo's absence, John Henry and company need step back and make sure that Ben Cherington is actually as "empowered" as they claim, going forward.
Taurus Londono has lived in Massachusetts for over ten years. He is a longtime fan of the Boston Red Sox.
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- Boston Red Sox
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