Bobby V. and questions of 'what if?'

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Bobby V. and questions of 'what if?'

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.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Former Red Sox prospect Andy Marte killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte, a one-time top prospect in the Red Sox organization, was killed in a car crash in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 33.

Marte was killed the same day that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Ventura was 25. Coincidentally, Ventura was the Royals starting pitcher in Marte's final major league game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014.

Marte, drafted by the Braves in 2000, was ranked the No. 9 prospect in baseball in 2005 when the third baseman was traded to the Red Sox as part of the deal that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Atlanta and Marte became the top-ranked prospect in the Red Sox organization.  

Marte was traded by the Red Sox to the Indians in 2006 in the deal that sent Coco Crisp to Boston and spent five seasons with Cleveland. His best season was 2009 (.232, six home runs, 25 RBI in 47 games). After a six-game stint with Arizona in 2014, he played in South Korea the past two years.  

Metropolitan traffic authorities in the Dominican told the Associated Press that Marte died when a car he was driving his a house along the highway between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.
 

Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

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Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports. Ventura was 25 years old.

Highway patrol spokesman Jacobo Mateo told the Associated Press that Ventura died on a highway leading to the town of Juan Adrian, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of Santo Domingo. He says it's not clear if Ventura was driving.

Ventura was killed the same day former major leaguer Andy Marte died in a separate car crash in the Dominican. Coincidentally, Ventura was the starting pitcher in Marte's final MLB game, for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 6, 2014. 

Ventura was 13-8 with a 4.08 ERA for the Royals' 2015 World Series champions and 11-12 with a 4.45 ERA in 32 starts in 2016. The right-hander made his major league debut in 2013 and in 2014 went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA for Kansas City's A.L. pennant winners. 

Ironically, Ventura paid tribute to his good friend and fellow Dominican, Oscar Tavares, who was also killed in a car crash in the D.R. in October 2014, by wearing Tavares' initials and R.I.P. on his cap before Ventura's start in Game 6 of the World Series in 2014. 

Ventura is the second current major league player to die in the past five months. Former Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in Miami on Sept. 25.