BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 01: Bobby Valentine (R) and Red Sox Executive Vice President and General manager Ben Cherington pose with a jersey as Valentine is introduced as the new manager of the Boston Red Sox during a press conference at Fenway Park on December 1, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
This season hasn't exactly been the greatest for the Red Sox. OK, it's been a downright disaster and one of the worst seasons for any Boston sports team ever. Next season will come eventually. Can they be fixed by 2013?
Let's evaluate the situation, shall we?
The Red Sox were just swept by both the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Oakland Athletics, two teams currently in the hunt for the wild card in the American League. For the first time in as long as I can remember, it's Boston's turn to play "spoiler," a term I actually despise in baseball. I've seen too many meaningful games ruined by meaningless teams over the years and there's nothing fun about it.
The Baltimore Orioles were perhaps the most significant spoilers in 2011 when they nailed the Red Sox' coffin shut last September at Camden Yards in a game that meant absolutely nothing to Baltimore. The only team to blame for that series, however, is the Red Sox. They nailed their own coffin shut long before that last series in Charm City and unfortunately, they are still paying the price for the collapse. Let's be honest, nobody is over last September.
This past Labor Day weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the start of the worst month in Red Sox history. Coincidentally, it was the start of yet another Super Bowl run by the New England Patriots, the pro team most Bostonians have already focused their attention towards. New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, whose team took home the Vince Lombardi trophy once again last season, recently created a new slogan for his New York Giants football team as they start their second season in six years as reigning champions; "Build the Bridge."
What does that mean?
According to Giants.com, "The slogan conveys the Giants' desire to take the outstanding performances at the end of the 2011 season and bridge them to the upcoming 2012 season."
How does this relate to the Red Sox you ask? Well, I think it's time they created a similar slogan. How about "Destroy the Bridge."
Enough is enough.
Since when are the Boston Red Sox more concerned with selling out their teammates and manager than winning? Since when is the front office more interested in making money than putting a winning product on the field? And since when have well-respected players been the center of controversy off the field? (P.S. Think second base and designated hitter). Tell me this hasn't been the strangest season in Boston Red Sox history.
If I rehash the season my head will explode, so I'll save us all the anxiety and cut to the chase. How do we fix the Red Sox?
First, Bobby Valentine. I've said it before on this forum, I don't think Valentine is the main problem but I don't think he's part of the solution either. It's been clear the veteran skipper has not received the support or respect he deserved from his players or his bosses throughout the season, and that's really the bottom line. Even though he's stuck his foot in his mouth on more than one occasion, there's no way around it, he was set up to fail from the get-go. In Boston, however, the biggest obstacle in managing the Red Sox isn't managing the actual game, it's managing people, including the media. This is where Valentine failed miserably, which is why he has to go. But when?
John Henry and Ben Cherington deny they are in Seattle to hand Valentine his pink slip, but how much longer can this circus go on? With John Farrell available after the 2013 season, unless a trade with the Blue Jays can be orchestrated, maybe it's best (gasp!) to keep Bobby until the Sox get the guy they really want long term. It makes no sense to keep Valentine, but it also makes no sense to get somebody new for one year IF the organization plans on going after Farrell when he's available. In simple terms, the managerial situation is an utter and complete disaster.
Blame: Larry Lucchino and Bobby Valentine.
Second, the divas. Fans saw the ugly side of some of their heroes this season, and in my opinion, reacted accordingly. Yes I take a shot at "pink hats" from time to time (but that's mostly geared towards females who are literally obsessed with the team), but kudos to the people who booed Josh Beckett off the field, agreed with the criticism the team received for the lack of attendance at Johnny Pesky's funeral, and for boycotting Fenway Park when the team wasn't providing a watchable product.
Were the right attitudes recently eliminated from the clubhouse - Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett? I think so. We all know Crawford was never happy in Boston and who knows if he ever would have turned things around, Gonzalez was a bit of a diva and "overstepped his boundaries" with management on more than one occasion, according to a source, and Beckett was the poster child for selfish, lazy and unprofessional athletes across America.
But the question remains, how to the Sox replace their left fielder, their first baseman and power bat, and one of their starting pitchers?
This week, in my second column, we'll take a look at the available free agents I feel the Red Sox should take a shot at.
Blame: The players.
And third, the front office. Ben Cherington will need to have full say in his new manager, whenever that may be, and in turn, allow that manager to have full say in his coaching staff. It's as simple as that. Lucchino needs to keep his nose out of baseball operations and focus solely on the business/promotion side of things. Too many chefs (and egos) in the kitchen only make for a bad meal. And this season, the disaster that is the Red Sox front office must either shape up or ship out, (a.k.a. sell the team.) It starts from the top and trickles down to the bottom, and that's what we witnessed this year, like termites eating through the base boards of a house and infecting the insides of a home.
Blame: John Henry.
So let's quickly recap. The 2012 season is circling the drain, and we've blamed President Larry Lucchino, Owner John Henry, manager Bobby Valentine and the players.
Yup, that's just about everyone. So I ask you, can this team be fixed over the winter? Seems like an insurmountable obstacle if I've ever seen one.
Jen Royle is a Columnist for SB Nation Boston. You can follow her @Jen_Royle on Twitter.