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.
BOSTON — Drew Pomeranz is helping out Dave Dombrowski’s balance sheet in Boston.
The Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel trades have been awesome — beyond awesome, even. The Tyler Thornburg deal looks like a disaster that, maybe someday, Dombrowski will acknowledge rather than sidestep. The Carson Smith deal has produced, if nothing else, no gain. The Fernando Abad deal has not hurt the Sox, and he’s had some decent moments.
But the Pomeranz trade with the Padres, for just top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza, stood as the most controversial of Dealer Dave’s moves until the past couple months. Now, the Cult of Travis Shaw has slowly made folks forget about Espinoza and the complicated set of circumstances that surrounded that trade.
“Rescind” is something you’re hearing less and less.
It’s remarkable what a 2.70 ERA in a 40-inning, seven-start stretch can do. Pomeranz is looking like a lot shinier these days, particularly after Tuesday night, when he came back out despite a rain delay of more than an hour in a 9-2 win over the Twins.
From the day that 40-inning stretch began, May 25, through Tuesday, only four qualified starters posted a better ERA in the American League: Corey Kluber (1.29), Jason Vargas (2.27), Jordan Montgomery (2.52) and Mike Pelfrey (2.64).
For comparison: Chris Sale is 10th in that stretch, at 3.54. Rick Porcello has 6.08 ERA in the same time.
Realistically, where the Sox stood last season, they needed Pomeranz. He was healthy enough to throw. That’s the reality everyone who wanted the deal undone always undersold: the back of the rotation was crumbling.
But that was just one layer of the deal.
The Padres did not provide as much medical information as they should have, and the Sox stuck with Pomeranz despite the opportunity to look elsewhere.
Espinoza hasn’t pitched for a Padres minor league affiliate yet this season. He’s playing catch from flat ground as he comes back from a forearm injury, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently.
Trades, to this observer, are typically best evaluated by reviewing the process behind them — which is to say, by looking back at the information was available at the time the deal was made. And at the time, it was known that the Sox were paying for Pomeranz beyond just last season's second half. They were paying for a controllable arm who could help out the rotation this year too.
Dombrowski may well have acquired Pomeranz at his peak value, which is unsurprising. But what mattered most was whether the team believed Pomeranz could contribute effectively beyond 2016. That, once they had all the health information, whether they properly evaluated what it would mean for his future.
It looked bad when Pomeranz started the season on the disabled list. He had a stem-cell injection in his forearm in the winter, too. There wasn’t much to hang your hat on at the start of April.
Realistically, Pomeranz probably isn’t 100 percent right now. Even within the relative world of pro baseball — where no one is ever 100 percent — Pomeranz is probably further from it than most.
But he's powered through. Pomeranz’s attitude might actually fit Boston better than most realize. He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).
He also is, whether people want to acknowledge it or not, a pitcher with a high ceiling in terms of ability (if not innings).
How Pomeranz holds up is to be seen. But the team’s judgment that he would have value beyond last season, a value worth surrendering Espinoza for, is looking better and better.
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona missed Tuesday night's game against Texas after his second trip to the hospital this month.
The Indians said doctors for now have ruled out major health issues and Francona will be monitored the next several weeks.
Francona, 58, left Monday night's game because he wasn't feeling well. He spent several hours at Cleveland Clinic and underwent a series of tests.
Francona was released from the hospital on Tuesday and spent the rest of the day at home. He was expected to return to the dugout Wednesday when the Indians host the Rangers. Cleveland lost to Texas 2-1 on Tuesday.
Bench coach Brad Mills ran the team in Francona's absence. Cleveland began the day in first place in the AL Central after rallying for a 15-9 win Monday.
"Tito actually wanted to come back to the ballpark today," team president Chris Antonetti said Tuesday. "I told him he can't come back to the ballpark today. He only got a couple hours of sleep last night, so despite his desire to want to be here, I thought it was best that he gets some rest tonight and just come back tomorrow. His plan when he was getting released from the hospital was to come over here."
"I don't think he was exceedingly happy with me," Antonetti said with a laugh. "That's OK."
Francona was hospitalized June 13 following a game at Progressive Field. He underwent tests and was released a few hours later, returning to work the following night. Last August, he missed a game after experiencing chest pains but was back the next day.
"Thankfully, we've got some great doctors that are coordinating his care," Antonetti said. "They've done every test they can possibly imagine. They've all come back clean. They're now working to try to figure out what are some of those things that are causing him to not feel so well."
Francona, a close friend of Mills for several years, has retained his sense of humor through his health issues.
A statement released by the team Tuesday read, "Mr. Francona also wanted to express that medical personnel have not yet ruled out an allergy to Bench Coach Brad Mills."