Roche: Experiment Failed
BOSTON (CBS) – Larry Lucchino is a baseball lifer.
He’s been successful in Baltimore, San Diego and Boston. He is a sharp business and baseball man, who has brilliantly helped lead the Red Sox to two World Series titles, a total renovation of Fenway Park, and to unprecedented financial success. John Henry and Tom Werner are forever grateful to him.
However, this experiment has failed… miserably.
Ben Cherington and his baseball ops staff did a rigorous search for a new manager when Terry Francona was fired (sorry, walked away) at the end of the 2011 season. They came up with Dale Sveum, who is now leading the Cubs. Dale knew Boston and all that goes with it after coaching third base here. He knew the clubhouse, knew the players, and knew the media. Would he have won here? Don’t know, but he was Ben’s choice.
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Larry offered up Bobby Valentine — a smart baseball strategist who had won in Texas, New York, and Japan. He appeared to be a much-needed disciplinarian too, something all parties felt the Sox players may need after they walked all over Francona in 2011. Larry convinced John and Tom that Bobby V. was the right guy too.
It just hasn’t worked.
I thought when Valentine was given a two-year contract that it would be either a big success (playoffs and maybe even a World Series) or a complete failure; there would be no middle ground. We’ve seen the latter.
I also felt that if it failed then he would be gone after one season. I think that will be true.
Look at the players that have flourished under Valentine and his style: Middlebrooks, Ciriaco, Aviles (to some degree), Nava, Ellsbury (when healthy), Doubront, Morales, Aceves, Salty (in the first half), and Buchholz.
Look at the players that haven’t played near their best: Pedroia, Youkilis (before being traded), Gonzalez, Lester, and Beckett.
Injuries have certainly been a factor too, but Valentine and his veterans didn’t seem to hit it off. Why? His unorthodox methods, lack of trust, strange line-ups, and preference to play younger guys.
There has also been a bad mix of coaches too. Guys like Tim Bogar, Bob McClure, and Gary Tuck were forced on Valentine. Bobby V. had his own guys brought in like Jerry Royster and Randy Nieman. They didn’t mesh.
Also, Cherington, his baseball ops guys, coaches and players had been used to running things a certain way. It was pretty darn successful except for one month over the last 10 years.
Meanwhile, Valentine has his own methods that had made him a very good manager.
Now, the players have tried to make it work, but it’s hard enough to play in Boston because if the intense pressure. Then add the bad mix and some of Valentine’s unconventional methods too, plus the injuries.
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And, please don’t give me the “I hate my boss but I still do a good job” stuff. It’s totally different because of the fans and the media scrutiny here in Boston.
But at the same time, those same players should shoulder a big brunt of the blame — because they brought it upon themselves last September.
So now what?
At the end of the season, say good-bye to Valentine.
Then, decide if Cherington is the guy you want to lead this franchise. I know John Henry loves and respects him. If he is the guy, let him make the decisions. Let him hire a new manager and keep/fire the coaches he wants. Let him pick the players and make the changes he wants. Tell Larry to offer advice, but give Ben the final call — especially on the manager.
The experiment has failed. It’s time to blow it up and start anew.
Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on twitter @RochieWBZ.