Discussion

Red Sox should let GM decide

Updated: August 15, 2012, 1:07 PM ET
By Buster Olney

Some of the Boston Red Sox players who met with ownership about Bobby Valentine on July 26 are extremely media savvy. They've played in big markets and speak off and on the record at length to various reporters, and they had to know, as they gathered that day, that eventually word of this summit would get out.

Sure enough, less than a week later, Joel Sherman of the New York Post became the first to make reference to the players' discussion with their bosses: "Outside officials say the clubhouse dislike for Bobby Valentine is so intense, players lobbying ownership for a change is not an overstatement."

More details are out now, reinforcing for all to see the reality that has been in place for months: The Red Sox players don't want to play for Valentine, not in the way that the Chicago White Sox want to play for Robin Ventura or the Los Angeles Dodgers want to play for Don Mattingly.

The roots of Boston's sub-.500 performance are more deeply tied to the pitching of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester and the injuries to John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Andrew Bailey. The Red Sox have $52 million invested in those five pitchers, and in return they've gotten 11 wins, 23 losses, just 225 innings and a 5.36 ERA.

But the poor relationship between Valentine and some of his players and some coaches is a daily virus for this organization, like a flu that never goes away. On a given day, they can all get their work done, but probably not to the best of their abilities. It is, as reported in June, a toxic mix. Red Sox ownership has been taken aback by the level of discord, and John Henry is on record as saying he doesn't believe Valentine is responsible for the team's play, so it may be that the manager will last the season -- especially given that in Boston, the players have taken the brunt of the criticism in the last 24 hours. Ownership may be leery of the perception that the inmates are running the asylum.

But there will be a day when Henry must decide what direction he wants to take and whether it's smart to continue with Valentine as the manager for the 2013 season. Henry should draw from an example set by his old friend George Steinbrenner, in the last years of Steinbrenner's life.

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