Fire Bobby Valentine
In the top of the seventh inning of today’s 5-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Bobby Valentine made a move that for me, will in all likelihood define his tenure with the club for the worse.
To that point I had been something of a Valentine supporter, if only in that I wasn’t calling for his head. I was indifferent. To avoid getting sidetracked, I’ll just say this: I believe that no manager can cost his team more than a handful of wins in any given season. Valentine has done nothing to shake that belief. What has flipped my opinion of Valentine wasn’t a bunt, bad bullpen call or an “un-optimized” lineup (things that more managers are guilty of than not), but a decision to operate directly against the best interests of the team.
The game tied 0-0, with two outs and a runner on second, Valentine pinch hit for light hitting shortstop, Jose Iglesias, in the middle of an at bat. Iglesias was pulled from a 2-2 count in favor of Daniel Nava. Pedro Ciriaco had just stolen second base on the fourth pitch of the sequence, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position and giving Valentine the opportunity to play for the win. The manager confirmed that much after the game, “there’s a risk/reward there. The risk is negligible; the reward is a win.”
It’s safe to say that Iglesias, who was 0 for 2 on the day, didn’t give the team much of a chance to score the runner. In 39 career major league plate appearances, Iglesias has recorded four hits (.102 batting average). In three minor league seasons spanning over 1000 plate appearances, he holds a .264 batting average. The thing is though, none of that matters.
The Red Sox entered the day with 66 wins. They had the eighth worst record in baseball and the fourth worst in the American League. It is no time to be concentrating on the present. Iglesias meanwhile is a 22-year-old player getting his first extended look in the majors and he plays a position that the team will likely enter the offseason looking to improve at.
Iglesias took a seat and Nava grounded out to the pitcher on the first pitch he saw to end the inning. The Red Sox fell to 66-81 under the guidance of Bobby Valentine.
Maybe the downside was negligible. It was just one at bat after all, not even a complete one at that. Iglesias takes this one on the chin, holds his head high and doubles down his perseverance. Only it’s not about the magnitude of the risk, but its direction. It’s one less opportunity for Iglesias to further his development and for the organization to get a look at a young player who may or may not be a part of its future.
Further defending his decision, Valentine stated that “it’s not just about one guy. It’s about a whole group of guys.”
Today, it was about one guy. It was about a manager with one foot out the door, putting himself and his win/loss record ahead of the organization.