During the managerial search last offseason, the Red Sox
team president urged general manager Ben Cherington to interview Bobby
Valentine for the managerial vacancy. On Thursday night, he admitted to nudging
Cherington in that direction.
But the final decision, Lucchino insisted, was universally
"I and John Henry, wanted the list of possibilities to include
Bobby — and made that suggestion to Ben that we interview him and talk to him
and see if there was a fit for him," Lucchino told NESN.com and three
other outlets in a private suite.
"But the notion that somehow this was a unilateral decision
flies in the face of how we operate around here. It's not the way we've
operated for the first decade of our existence. In that decade, we've averaged
more than 92 wins plus did a lot of wonderful things here at Fenway Park. So I
think our system of decision-making on the highest levels, on the most
important decisions and policies have worked quite well over time."
Not in 2012. Last offseason, the Red Sox preached a fresh start.
They switched up managers, shuffled through pitching coaches, rotated through
general managers and added a few new faces to aid their championship aspirations.
One year later, the team has pressed the reset button once again
after the worst season in decades. Now, Lucchino and Cherington are overhauling
the organization — not just making tweaks — and it started with the
blockbuster trade back in August.
The process continued on Thursday, when the Red Sox fired
Valentine. Although injuries decimated the roster, Lucchino was willing to
accept the culpability for adding Valentine's name to the mix.
"Absolutely," Lucchino said. "I
feel some responsibility for the selection of Bobby. As I said a minute ago,
I'm a supporter and an advocate. I was an advocate for him, but during the
course of this year, so many factors contributed to it."
When the Red Sox hired Valentine last year, they were determined
to change the culture and eradicate all sense of entitlement. As Valentine
attempted to do so — such as the Kevin Youkilis comments — he was reprimanded
by the front office.
Ultimately, the clubhouse never embraced Valentine's approach that
strayed from Terry Francona's laid-back style. Now in retrospect, Lucchino
agreed he should've done more to empower the embattled skipper during his
tenure in Boston.
"There probably were [more ways we could've empowered
Valentine]," Lucchino said. "We were not perfect in working with him.
Yeah, I'd say there probably were [more ways] but that's part of the reason why
we say we share some responsibility for the outcome of this season."
Despite the disastrous 69-93 record and the constant conflicts,
Lucchino still holds Valentine in very high regard.
"I was a major supporter of Bobby Valentine," Lucchino
said. "And still am."
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