BOSTON After one season that ranged from uncomfortable to disastrous, the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine Thursday afternoon. The axing came less than 24 hours after the Sox were pummeled, 14-2, in the season finale at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night. The loss completed their 69-93 season, finishing in last place in the American League East for the first time since 1992, when they had four more wins and there were seven teams in the division.It was the most losses the team suffered since losing 96 of 155 games in 1928. At .426, it was their lowest winning percentage since .423 in 1933. It was their fewest wins since the 1954 team also lost 69 (youd have to go back to 1943 for a team with fewer, 68).Now, after being one of the most successful franchises of the previous decade, the Red Sox will hire their third manager in as many years.Valentine, the 45th manager in team history, lasted less than a year, hired on Dec. 1, 2011. But he had not managed since 2002 when the Red Sox enticed him from the ESPN broadcasting booth. His tenure, though, was marked by many missteps along the way, from targeting players for reprimand during drills in spring training, drawing the consternation of other players, to saying the teams recent roster was the "weakest roster we've ever had in September in the history of baseball,'' drawing the ire of the front office.But Valentine is not the only one responsible for the failed season. Injuries, poor performances, thin rosters, a team coming of an historic collapse in September 2011, plagued by a clubhouse culture of entitlement and arrogance, and other issues all played a part.Red Sox presidentCEO Larry Lucchino and general manager Ben Cherington met with reporters Thursday afternoon and evening in a series of small interviews.The decision crystallized in the last few days, Lucchino said. We all knew that there was a right-after-the-season deadline that we had committed to ourselves and publicly. And so we went a good bit of time without a lot of internal discussion and debate. Occasionally, wed have it, but not a lot because we all valued the respite, frankly, from the intensity of the chatter. In late July or early August we made clear that we were going to deal with it at the end of the season.Valentine was told at a breakfast meeting Thursday morning at Lucchinos home, at which principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and Cherington were also present.Looking back, it is easy to say that Valentine was not the right hire. But he had 15 years of prior managerial experience and came with a resume and a reputation. He was viewed as a very different type of person and manager than Terry Francona, whom he replaced. Given the right set of circumstances, perhaps it could have been successful, but it became clear the 2012 season was far from having the right set of circumstances.I think we felt it was the right hire, the right man, at the right time given the analysis we made of the historic September collapse, Lucchino said. And none of us is afraid of doing things that is out of the ordinary or out of the box. I think baseball in general has a history of relatively conservative practices. The preservation of Fenway Park was a bit out of the box given the attitudes that were prevailing at the time. So we are not uncomfortable with doing things out of the box. But we didnt do it for that reason. We did it because we thought his experience, intelligence, energy, drive was what we needed for the team at the end of last year.Was it a mistake?Oh, its easy to look back with hindsight and say that. I wont put it that way, Lucchino said. I think we made a rational decision collectively with the perspective of several people who participated in it. I was certainly a major supporter of Bobby, but just didnt work out. And all you have to do is look at the scoreboard out there that has us in last place. This is a results-oriented business and we didnt get the result we wanted.After Valentine was given the news, Lucchino said the group stayed for another 90 minutes to two hours to talk about the team, what Lucchino called in a very, I thought, by my likes, in a very constructive, candid conversation about those issues affecting the team going forward.Valentine handled it with a great deal of maturity, Cherington said. The news first and then we did have a conversation and he gave some, he offered some constructive feedback, which I had heard before because Id been talking to him all year about things that he saw that he thought could help us get better moving forward.Some were somewhat structural about how to deal with the various responsibilities of the job, Lucchino said. Some were evaluative regarding his views of certain players and their ceilings.Asked if the conversation included the culture of the team, Cherington replied:I wouldnt want to comment on the nitty-gritty details of the conversation. But when you lose the way we did this year, no matter where that happens or when it happens, the culture is not going to feel as good or look as good. It needs to improve and winning will help it improve more than anything else. But it is something that we need to improve moving forward and there are different ways to do that.The Red Sox will now be looking for their third manager in as many seasons. While Valentine may not have been the right person for the job, it is now a situation in which no team wants to be. Is there anything either Cherington or Lucchino could have done to prevent it?I cant identify specific action that we might have taken or not taken, Lucchino said. I suppose I could if I sat down and thought about it at some length. But I will tell you that there is certainly some sense of accountability or responsibility that we all feel. This is not to suggest the dismal performance of this club is not the sole responsibility of Bobby Valentine. We all have a role to play and have our full share of responsibility with things that we didnt do right, judgments that we didnt make in a timely and appropriate manner. So we, speaking for John, Tom, myself, and Ben has a part of this.We spent a lot of time in the last several weeks looking critically at ourselves, how we got to this point, how we can get out of it, said Cherington. Ive done that with myself. Part of that is player personnel-related decisions, part of it's other stuff. So I can't pick out one thing I could have done differently or we could have done differently to avoid this. We got here. There are a lot of different reasons why we got here and therell be more than one thing that gets us out of it. But thats our focus on it. We felt like this was something we needed to do to provide part of the catalyst for us to move forward.That will begin Friday with the search for a new manager, Cherington said. Neither he nor Lucchino have been in contact with any other teams to get permission to talk to their personnel. Jason Varitek, who joined the Sox last week as a special assistant to Cherington, will be part of the search committee, along with Allard Baird, vice president of player personnel and assistant GMs Mike Hazen and Brian OHalloran.I want to get Jason Varitek involved, and solicit his advice, Cherington said. I think thats important. It was important to me to add someone to the group that has been in a big league clubhouse recently, played a central role for the Red Sox, and he certainly did. So his voice will be heard. And then, as importantly -- most importantly -- collaborate with John, Tom, and Larry throughout the process because the next manager in Boston, any manager, but the next one needs to have all of our support.
NEW YORK - Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, earning the honor as Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero fell just short.
Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were passed over for the fifth straight year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. But they received significantly more votes this time and could be in position to gain election in coming years.
Bagwell, on the ballot for the seventh time after falling 15 votes short last year, received 381 of 442 votes for 86.2 percent. Players needed 75 percent, which came to 332 votes this year.
In his 10th and final year of eligibility, Raines was on 380 ballots (86 percent). Rodriguez received 336 votes (76 percent) to join Johnny Bench in 1989 as the only catchers elected on the first ballot.
Hoffman was five votes shy and Guerrero 15 short.
Edgar Martinez was next at 58.6 percent, followed by Clemens at 54.1 percent, Bonds at 53.8 percent, Mike Mussina at 51.8 percent, Curt Schilling at 45 percent, Lee Smith at 34.2 percent and Manny Ramirez at 23.8 percent.
Players will be inducted July 30 during ceremonies at Cooperstown along with former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta Braves executive John Schuerholz, both elected last month by a veterans committee.
Bagwell was a four-time All-Star who spent his entire career with Houston, finishing with a .297 batting average, 401 homers and 1,401 RBIs.
Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion. He spent 13 of 23 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos, who left Canada to become the Washington Nationals for the 2005 season, and joins Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the Hall representing the Expos.
Raines hit .294 with a .385 on-base percentage, playing during a time when Rickey Henderson was the sport's dominant speedster.
Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star who hit .296 with 311 homers and 1,332 RBIs, was never disciplined for PEDs but former Texas teammate Jose Canseco alleged in a 2005 book that he injected the catcher with steroids. Asked whether he was on the list of players who allegedly tested positive for steroids during baseball's 2003 survey, Rodriguez said in 2009: "Only God knows."
Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and jumped from 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, rose from 45.2 percent last year.
Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs, but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer. The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.
Clemens was acquitted on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.
A 12-time All-Star on the ballot for the first time, Ramirez was twice suspended for violating baseball's drug agreement. He helped the Boston Red Sox win World Series titles in 2004 and `07, the first for the franchise since 1918, and hit .312 with 555 home runs and 1,831 RBIs in 19 big league seasons.
Several notable players will join them in the competition for votes in upcoming years: Chipper Jones in 2018, Mariano Rivera and Roy Halladay in 2019, and Derek Jeter in 2020.
The Red Sox have invited nine non-roster players to spring training, the team announced Wednesday. The team now has a total of 15 non-roster invitees.
Added Wednesday to the spring training roster were outfielder/infielder Allen Craig, third baseman Rafael Devers, first baseman Sam Travis, catcher Jordan Procyshen, outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Rusney Castillo, and right-handed pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Chandler Shepherd and Ben Taylor.
In addition to 39 players on the 40-man roster, the Sox have the following breakdown of non-roster invitees:
Pitchers: Kyle Kendrick, Edgar Olmos, Chandler Shepherd, Ben Taylor, Marcus Walden
Catchers: Dan Butler, Jake DePew, Jordan Procyshen
Infielders: Rafael Devers, Matt Dominguez, Sam Travis
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Rusney Castillo, Allen Craig, Junior Lake