Commentary

Sox banking on Bobby V rebound

Buckle up, Boston fans -- Valentine won't be relinquishing the driver's seat

Updated: August 7, 2012, 9:47 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- There will be no "Morgan Magic" this season. Or Bogar Boogie, Arnie Advance or Varitek Vault.

For better or worse, the 2012 Boston Red Sox are Bobby's Baby, to rise or fall on his watch, from first day to (probably) last. If they're to make a run at the postseason (and who were those imposters who pitched, hit, fielded and ran the bases with a startling crispness in a 9-2 win Monday night over the Texas Rangers?) manager Bobby Valentine will be the last man standing.

[+] EnlargeBobby Valentine
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesSox brass gave embattled manager Bobby Valentine the thumbs-up Monday.

The powers that be -- John W. Henry, Tom Werner, Ben Cherington -- lined up to offer forceful support to Valentine on Monday night. By email (Henry), phone call (Werner) and face-to-face media session (Cherington), they all conveyed the same message: Whatever may be ailing the Red Sox, firing Valentine is not the solution.

Henry: "We are not making a change in manager."

Werner: "I do think we all take some responsibility that the team is not playing up to expectations, but we're not going to make a change in manager."

Cherington: "Bobby's our manager and we're not considering anyone else."

A check with the grounds crew, field box ushers and popcorn vendors confirmed that the organization had unanimously elected to tune out the outside clamor for Bobby's head. (There was a rumor a ticket taker at Gate A had been caught passing out "Bobby V. Must Go" bumper stickers and was fired on the spot, but that could not be confirmed.)

"There is often the thought in organizations, 'This isn't working so the manager needs to go,'" Henry wrote. "But an organization is much more than the field manager. We all share responsibility for the success and failure of the Boston Red Sox."

Valentine, who met with the media Monday afternoon with the owners' backing already tucked in his pocket -- Henry, Werner and Cherington had all slipped into his office before he went to the interview room -- acted like he had no idea what all the fuss about. People wanted to see him fired?

"Wow. I didn't read the paper or listen to the radio," Valentine said. "Thanks for telling me about all that good news."

No one was suggesting that Valentine is without his flaws. Like last week's business that he'd been ratted out by a player running to the brass to complain about Valentine's "nice inning, kid" remark to rookie Will Middlebrooks. One man's snitch is another man's idea of good communication, as Cherington made clear when asked about the flap.

"I've talked to players plenty this year," Cherington said. "It's no different than any other year. I think, occasionally, it's appropriate for ownership to talk to the players. They have a lot at stake here and they should do that. I don't see it as different as any other year and no players are running up the back stairs.

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"I've had conversations with players in the open light of the clubhouse, I've had conversations on the phone, just like any other year. The content of those conversations will be private, but I will tell you that they've been constructive. They've been focused on what's been going on out here and trying to get this better."

But as irked as the executive suite has been by some of Valentine's self-created drama, this was a day they chose to focus on the positives he has brought to the dugout.

"I think he's done a good job of evaluating the talent and what he's seeing on the field right in front of him," Cherington said. "He's made some good choices as to how he's used players, roles, change in roles and playing time. He's gotten some things out of players that maybe, perhaps, others haven't in the past.

"From an evaluation standpoint there are a lot of good things that have happened."

Still, no one should be lulled into believing that the Sox will not think long and hard about bringing back Valentine for the second year of his two-year deal, especially if they fall short of a playoff spot for the third straight season. Even as Henry referenced the impact injuries have had on the Sox this season, no one offered injuries as the sole cause of Boston's disappointing play.

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Cherington, given the opportunity to guarantee Valentine would finish the year, chose not to do so.

"He's our manager," Cherington said. "I'm not going to get into timelines. I'm not going to get into timelines for myself, either. We're just doing the job right now. We're doing the job the best we can and we're focused on making it better. I support Bobby."

And that's what this night was all about for the Sox brass, showing that they had Bobby's back when the braying for his head was loudest. The Sox are passing on the time-honored solution of firing a manager in hopes of lighting a fire under the club, the way the Sox did with "Walpole Joe" Morgan when they fired John McNamara in 1988. Bench coach Tim Bogar will not be coming to the rescue. Neither will Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler nor Jason Varitek, whose wife, Catherine, tweeted Sunday that of course she believes her husband would make an outstanding manager.

The Sox are betting on Bobby. For now. Although, given the way the Sox responded Monday night in their beatdown of the powerful Rangers, maybe John W. Henry will be in his office Tuesday morning, offering an extension.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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