Fans Cannot Pin the Blame Solely on Bobby Valentine

Posted on May 7, 2012 by

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By Ryan Kuketz

Associate Editor

The Red Sox entered the 2012 season with the awful taste of the epic collapse and clubhouse drama of last September still lingering in their mouths. With a new manager at the helm, they have been unable to erase the memories of last year by starting the year 7-10 through the first 17 games. Bobby Valentine has made questionable decisions on and off the field, and the pitching staff has been terrible.

The season started with a three game sweep by the Detroit Tigers, and then they lost 2 out of 3 games to the Toronto Blue Jays. When they got to Fenway for the first time this season, they started to find a groove by winning the first 3 of 4 against the Tampa Bay Rays, but then out of the blue, Valentine showed his true colors and caused a commotion in the media and in the clubhouse.

Valentine called out starting third baseman Kevin Youkilis by saying, “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason,” on WHDH’s Sports Xtra.

The next day Youkilis was confused by the statement and his teammate Dustin Pedroia even stood up for his third baseman by calling out Valentine. That day the Red Sox lost to the Rays, and then lost two games to the Texas Rangers including one devastating disappointment with a score of 18-3.

After getting demolished by the defending AL champions, the Red Sox bitter rivals, the Yankees came into Boston for a weekend matchup. After losing April 20 on the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, the Red Sox took a 9-0 lead on the 21 and after the starting pitcher Felix Doubront left the game after six innings, the bullpen blew the 9 run lead and lost to New York 15-9. The only victory for Boston that weekend was a rainout the following day.

Most people probably do not have a problem when a manager calls out a player if the circumstances are right. However in Valentine’s case, the timing was not right at all. The Red Sox were on a 3 game winning streak and after his comments the team lost the next 5 games in a row. His call to take Doubront out after six innings was also questionable as he was pitching well, and had only thrown 99 pitches.

Valentine has taken a lot of heat for his decisions as he should, but fans should not be solely blaming the new manager for the teams’ shortcomings. The real problem is the upper management of the ballclub. It is the General Manager’s responsibility to create the best team they can, and the Boston bullpen has been the biggest factor in the Red Sox losses. Alfredo Aceves, blew his first save opportunity on opening day, and has an ERA of 18.00 allowing 8 runs in just 4 innings and is 3-5 in save opportunities.

The best starter thus far has been Doubront; who is 0-0 and has an ERA of 3.94 and leads the team with 21 strikeouts. Although Daniel Bard was temporarily moved from the bullpen the Sox still plan on keeping him as a starter even though he has proven to be more effective in the bullpen.

Red Sox management has been hesitant to make any big moves in-house or out. As a fan that is very frustrating. People watch a team and pay money to see them because they believe they have a chance to win. Management has not shown they are willing to do very much to make the team better than. Unless somehow this team can turn things around, and they can prove they have a shot of winning it all, people will stop going to Fenway to see the team play, and will lose interest in the club.

As a fan who goes to about five games a year, I have vowed I will not go back to Fenway to see the Red Sox this year unless they show they care about winning. As much as I want to pin all the blame on Valentine, Red Sox Nation has to realize that it is not completely his fault. Some of the blame, yes, but most belongs to Ben Cherington, Larry Luchinno, Tom Henry, and Tom Werner. And if the Red Sox do a blow a 9 run lead, at least fans still get to sing to “Sweet Caroline” after the 8th inning.

 

EDITORS NOTE: All statistics and information as of April 25, 2012

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