As everyone probably knows by now, Bobby Valentine is out as manager of the Red Sox. If this is news to you, welcome back to Earth.
With Valentine’s departure, Boston now needs to begin its search to find a new skipper. Following a 100-year Fenway Park celebration that yielded very little to celebrate in terms of this year’s team, the Red Sox are headed in another direction for the second straight season.
Terry Francona, who departed the Red Sox last offseason, has since moved on — and so have the Red Sox. Now, Francona enjoys his job as an analyst at ESPN, and as you’d expect, he was quickly tabbed as a hot-button interviewee upon the news of Valentine’s exit.
Francona pointed out that the Red Sox’ 69-93 record — their worst since 1965 — was certainly not all on Valentine’s head.
“When you have a record as an organization, whether it’s a success or a failure, it always has to be we — and I think Ben Cherrington owned up to that earlier,” Francona said Thursday on ESPN.
Clashing with players and coaches was something Valentine was known for in years past, and his strong personality came along with the contract he signed last winter. Francona, in his tenure in Boston, preferred to keep things in house, as compared to airing them out over the airwaves.
“Some of those things surprised me,” Francona said of Valentine’s recent comments regarding his coaching staff. ”Those are some coaches with high integrity. If I had problems with a coach, I’d tell him directly. I’m not sure I would choose to do it on the radio.”
And now, the million-dollar question every Red Sox fan is asking: Who’s next? While names will continue to be tossed around, Francona already has a beat on who he would pick if it was his decision.
“This is the direction I would want to go,” Francona said. “John Farrell, DeMarlo Hale, Brad Mills, Tim Bogar. All guys that have been working there in the past, in the good times. They would immediately have the players’ respect.”
While cleaning house and replacing everyone who believed in Valentine’s mentality probably wouldn’t be the best decision, it’s obvious this season’s chemistry didn’t work out.
Francona was quick to note, though, that the situation Valentine inherited was by no means an easy one, even pointing out that a lot of the problems began when he was still wearing the Red Sox’ colors.
“There were some mistakes made last September, and that was under my charge, but that doesn’t mean everything is wrong,” Francona said.
Another aspect of this upcoming candidate search is the mentality of the average Red Sox fan. Was this team truly as bad as its record says? Did injuries decimate a potential playoff team? Or could the Red Sox have performed better if somebody else was calling the shots?
Regardless of what the answers are to those questions, Francona’s sentiments for moving on in the future can’t go unnoted.
“The glass is way more half full than the normal Red Sox fan sees it,” Francona said. “[Felix] Doubront, [John] Lackey, [Clay] Buchholz, [Jon] Lester, those are four pitchers right now that I’ll take my chances with them.”
As the wagons circle Fenway for another offseason beginning without a manager, at the very least, Francona can see the potential for an immediate turnaround next year. That’s something Valentine envisions for Boston as well.