Bobby Valentine, John Henry meet
SEATTLE -- Amid his team's debacle of a West Coast road trip, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Monday that both he and much-maligned manager Bobby Valentine were being studied by ownership as much as any players on the roster.
"We are both being evaluated," Cherington said.
Both Cherington and owner John Henry were in Seattle on what they said was a previously planned trip west. Henry had breakfast Monday with Valentine then met individually with some players and staff as part of what he described as a "fact-finding" stop in the wake of Boston's season-worst losing streak, which hit seven later in the day with a 4-1 loss to the Mariners.
Valentine might come out a little better on the evaluation scale, Cherington suggested, because managers are evaluated on wins and losses, and wins and losses "are reflective of the talent we have on the field."
And in the wake of the mega-trade with the Dodgers that sent Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, the makeup of the roster is squarely laid at Cherington's feet. Yes, the Red Sox have been bedeviled by injuries, but they aren't the only club for which that's true.
"I told Bobby and I told the team at the time of the trade that I wasn't helping the team win games (immediately) by making the trade," Cherington said. "The problems haven't just been the pitching. It's been the offense, the defense. It's been me."
Immediately after the trade, the Red Sox won two games against the downtrodden Royals in Fenway Park. Since then, it's been one disaster after another. In three games against the Angels in Anaheim, Boston was outscored 21-10 in losing all three. In Oakland, it was another sweep, and things were even worse, the A's outscoring the Red Sox 33-5.
"It's hard to watch," Cherington said of the current slide. "It's a reflection on all of us when things aren't going well. I think we knew when we made the trade that we weren't helping our team in games the rest of this year. But, that said, it's still been hard to watch.
"There are things we need to do to learn more about players, get players healthy and put guys in the best position so that we can be well-informed on them in the offseason. It is harder to do that when you're staring at a loss at the end of every day. It's harder for everyone to get the work done that needs to get done. But the only choice we have is to do it, to show up the next day and make sure the work gets done.
It's hard to watch. It's a reflection on all of us when things aren't going well.” -- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington on his team's slide
"We're in the middle of a tough stretch," he said. "And I don't know what the wins and losses will look like at the end. But I expect us to be competitive.
"We're focused on what we can get out of the next four weeks."
Valentine doesn't have to focus on his job security, at least not now. He would not go into details about the breaking of bread he had with his boss, but he said that he and Henry talked about the job Valentine had been doing.
"We talked baseball," Valentine said. "The things we talked about are the things I deal with (as a manager)."
Earlier in the day, Henry told ESPNBoston.com via email that he was not in Seattle to fire Valentine. Cherington said suggestions that Valentine was in trouble because both the owner and the general manager were in town needed some context.
"I had this on my calendar for a month," Cherington said. "John was (already) on the West Coast."
Still, the general manager would not get into specifics about Valentine's status and Henry came and went without indicating any need for a move.
A team source reiterated Monday that despite the appearances of a "death watch," Valentine's fate will not be addressed until after the season. The 62-year-old Valentine has a year remaining on the two-year contract he signed last December.
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The Red Sox have been in freefall since July 31, when they were 53-51 and just 3½ games out of a wild-card spot. They had recorded back-to-back, final-at-bat victories against the Yankees in New York, returned home to beat the Detroit Tigers two straight, and Valentine -- who had been given the backing of owners after they held a turbulent meeting with players -- still spoke confidently of making the playoffs.
Since then, the club has gone 9-23 to fall 12 games under .500 for the first time since July 15, 1997, and with a 62-74 record Boston is on pace for a 74-88 record, which would be their worst since 1992, when they finished 73-89. That was the team's worst finish since 1966, the year before the Impossible Dreamers, when the Red Sox went 72-90.
The team's performance has disintegrated during its current West Coast trip. The pitching staff has an 8.90 ERA on the trip. Since pitching coach Bob McClure was fired on Aug. 21 and replaced by Randy Niemann, the team is 3-11 with an ERA of 6.84, while the starters' ERA is 7.59, with seven starts of five innings or fewer.
Boston's hitters, meanwhile, are batting just .223 on the trip, have been outhomered 13-3 and have just seven extra-base hits, compared to 20 for their opponents.
Pitcher Clay Buchholz, who took the loss Monday, said the presence of Henry and Cherington doesn't add any pressure to what already is a trying situation.
"There are going to be times in the season when they visit," Buchholz said. "It's not that big a deal. They know the kind of pressure we're under. They're not going to add to that.
"Playing in Boston can take a toll on you. But we've got to find a way tomorrow."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was used in this report.