Posted on: February 27, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 5:07 pm
Terry Francona derided his Red Sox managerial replacement Bobby Valentine's decision to ban beer in Boston's clubhouse as a "PR move'' while talking on one of his new employer's new shows. That banning beer became obvious and necessary due to Francona running a Romper Room the previous year was never mentioned.
Francona can have an opinion here if he wants, but it needs to be said in context. And here's the proper context: Francona's lax policing of a clubhouse gone wild necessitated this move by Valentine, which he likely would have done anyway.
Valentine banned alcohol in the Mets clubhouse and, as he pointed out, nearly 20 clubs have banned alcohol. Why the other 10 haven't remains a mystery.
Nothing good can come from drinking in a clubhouse, and the Red Sox's in-game beer drinking by three of its key pitchers last year covered that team in shame. Two, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett, owned up to their mistake. How about Francona owning up to the fact he took a paycheck to do practically nothing last year?
Francona was there, but he wasn't there. He needed to speak to several of his players last year, and he blew it off. Instead, he called a team meeting, when at least 20 of the guys in the meeting probably wondered why Francona wasn't calling in Lester, Beckett and John Lackey individually. He mishandled the situation, and he managed to lose a job he appeared to own.
Now he's spouting off for cash. As Valentine -- who in a twist was Francona's TV predecessor -- said in a retort to the Red Sox writers: "Remember, you're getting paid over there for saying stuff. You get paid over here for doing stuff. I've done both.''
Francona will continue to get paid for saying stuff. But it is a more valid opinion when he targets someone other than the one guy in baseball who took his job.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:39 pm
Ft. Myers, Fla. -- Say this for the new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine: when he gets an 80-mph fastball right down the middle of the plate, he knocks it out of the park. Yes, of course Valentine told Red Sox players h was banning beer on the last leg of charter flights and also in the clubhouse. (He didn't say anything about chicken, but we'll assume that's still OK.)
Of course Valentine had to ban beer. You can't have two straight beer-stained seasons.
Red Sox veteran pitchers Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey spoiled the party after it was revealed they sometimes had their beer in the clubhouse while the game was going on (and their 2011 collapse was still going on). Beckett and Lester have admitted they erred in doing so. That's nice, but Valentine can't take the chance they'd do it again.
Valentine banned beer in the Mets clubhouse when he was there, so this isn't only a reaction to last year's shenanigans in Boston. He always worried about things that could happen to ballplayers who drank too much.
Valentine once got ripped by the New York press (me, included) for suggesting Mets star Todd Hundley "needed more sleep,'' which was actually a kind way of saying that he stayed out too late, which is a kind way of saying he should maybe drink a bit less. Hundley was a really nice man, but Valentine was right (yes, I was wrong). Hundley still is a great guy, but everyone around that team knew he should have drank less.
Valentine was lambasted at the time by Hundley's enabling agents, the Levinson brothers, who should have realized Valentine was right and gotten their client to sleep more. The agents should have thanked Valentine for caring about Hundley but instead to this day carry on a behind-the-scenes campaign against Valentine over his kind euphemisms. Not nice.
In this case, no one could argue with Valentine, unless not publicly. Red Sox star David Ortiz told Dan Roche of WBZ-FM, "We're not here to drink. We're here to play baseball. It ain't a bar.''
Anyway, Valentine isn't afraid to do what's unpopular. Asked how his decision was received at today's team meeting, Valentine said, "Do you mean was it a standing ovation or booing.''
He said it somewhere in between. It should have been the standing ovation.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:04 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 2:05 pm
Bobby Valentine was thrilled to get the job as Red Sox manager. But did he know he might be going to spring training without a starting shortstop and only three set-in-stone starting pitchers?
Young, bright Ben Cherington had to be excited to ascend to the Red Sox GM job. But did anyone tell him he'd have to operate like a small-market club?
With little more than a week to go before things start getting under way in the spring camp of the historic team, their starting shortstop is Nick Punto. If it isn't Mike Aviles. And their rotation is one big puzzle. At least 40 percent of it is.
Red Sox management has found a novel way to change the story from the chicken-and-beer parties to something else. Of course, the Valentine hiring helps, because there is no better manager at getting his team positive and interesting publicity. But how to cover the fact that they have major questions in three key spots and their owner has apparently decided to spend his resources on soccer instead?
The hiring of Valentine was a brilliant stroke, even if it did take a nudge from team president Larry Lucchino and upper management. And the wise trades for Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon satisfy the question of how they'll replace Jonathan Papelbon in the bullpen. But now, what are they going to do for a starting shortstop and two starting pitchers? (They have made an offer to Roy Oswalt, but it appears he will sign elsewhere.)
It's obvious poor Cherington was given pennies to try to compete with the Yankees and Rays, perhaps the two best teams in baseball, following the departure of his legendary mentor Theo Epstein. Epstein got $18.5 million from the Cubs and Papelbon got $50 million from the Phillies. But the biggest free agent signing Red Sox owner John Henry authorized was that of Valentine, whose contract isn't known. But we'll assume over his two years, he beat Cody Ross' $3 million (though that's on a one-year deal) and the eminently scrappy Punto's $3 million (two years). The other free agents, Vicente Padilla and Kelly Shoppach, were even less money.
Cherington showed some ingenuity in landing both Bailey and Melancon for the pen, reinforcements that will be sorely needed with a rotation that appears highly questionable. Beyond Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz, who incidentally is returning from a back injury, the Red Sox will hope reliever-turned-starter Daniel Bard can fill one of the remaining rotation spots and that someone from Padilla, Carlos Silva and a host of similar possibilities can be the No. 5 man. Cherington was also made to save money to allow him to make even the cheapie moves he did execute, leading him to trade starting shortstop Marco Scutaro at a $6 million savings.
Boston's total outlay of cash was less than $10 million (not counting Valentine). Henry hasn't explained the sudden frugality. But here's one guess: He overspent on soccer.
Henry's outlay of loot for his Liverpool soccer team was $179 million this year, or about 20 times what he spent on the Red Sox. Forward Andy Carroll got 35 million pounds ($54.7 million), forward Luis Suarez got 23 million pounds ($35.9 million), midfielder Stewart Downing 20 million pounds ($31.2 million), midfielder Jordan Henderson 16 million pounds ($25 million), midfielder Charlie Adam 7.5 million pounds ($11.7 million), defenseman Sebastian Coates seven million pounds ($10.9 million) and defenseman Jose Enrique got 6.3 million pounds ($9.8 million).
That's all great for Liverpoool.
Now, can any of them pitch or play shortstop?