Bobby Valentine was fired today, and everyone wants to throw a parade. But before we get too wrapped up in the planning, lets take a quick look back at the season. Real quick. I promise.
Bobby Valentine managed the first half of the year without his closer, his MVP-caliber center fielder and his 20M a year left fielder. Over those first few months, he also saw his former MVP second baseman fall victim to a nagging thumb injury, his first baseman (and one of the AL's best hitters) slump like a chump, his No. 1 and 2 pitchers revert back to Little League and his No. 4 starter fall off a psychological cliff. All while spending 24 hours a day tumbling in a dryer of certifiable media insanity.
At the All Star Break, the Sox were 2.5 games out of the Wild Card.
Less than two weeks later, just as Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia re-joined the line-up, Andrew Bailey was getting closer and Clay Buchholz had established himself as a legitimate ace, Valentine lost David Ortiz for the season (minus one game). Ortiz may have been a pain in the ass but he was also hands down the most reliable and essential aspect of that line-up.
On the day Ortiz went on the DL July 18 the Sox were one game back in the wild card.
After that, with the offense unable to make up for the absence of its best hitter and the pitching staff still a mess, everything slowly spun out of control. On August 10, they were 5.5 games back. On August 20, they were seven back. On August 25, they were 9.5 back, and then finally said uncle essentially trading Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett for James Loney.
Post- trade, Valentines fourth rate line up went 10-27; leaving the Sox with their worst record since 1966.
Obviously, along the way, Valentine pulled plenty of crap that's more than worthy of the criticism hes received and will continue to receive for the next couple hundred years. Theres no question that he needed to be fired this morning. Its all part of the process of cleansing that clubhouse and taking another swing at a fresh start. But for all the anger, frustration and criticism, it's fair wonder what would have happened if Ortiz had stayed healthy. Or if at any point, Valentine had been afforded the services of his entire roster at the same time.
It may not have made a difference. In fact, there's a good chance that nothing could have saved this team from eventual collapse. And maybe that's the point. But all things considered, Valentine tread water for much longer than he should have this season, and had far less to do with the disaster than history will remember.