McAdam: Red Sox a house divided?

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McAdam: Red Sox a house divided?

BOSTON -- "Toxic'' -- the word used by ESPN.com's Buster Olney to describe the Red Sox clubhouse dynamic -- may have been too strong a phrase.
But at the very least, emerging details of the 2012 Red Sox reveal the organization to be somewhat dysfunctional at nearly every level, more closely resembling a soap opera than a successful team.
Club insiders paint a picture of a handful of alientated players, a detached manager, an absentee ownership and a general manager caught in-between.
Numerous sources indicated that the relationship between teammates is better than some would expect for a club that has gone through the upheavel the Sox have experienced since last September.
As might be expected with a high-profile manager like Bobby Valentine, there's a divided opinion among the players. Some have no problem with his managing style, preferring to do their job and avoid conflict.
Others are not so accepting of Valentine, to the point, in one case, of openly challenging him. And a number are unhappy with the lack of communication from the manager's office.
One player involved in a transaction this season, for instance, learned of his fate through the team's Twitter feed. Others dislike his unwillingness to tell players ahead of time that they won't be in the lineup the next days.
"That,'' acknowledged one player generally supportive of Valentine, "is not fair.''
Valentine's style is about as different from his predecessor, Terry Francona, as could be imagined. While Francona interracted with players and valued communication, Valentine takes more of an old-school approach, feeling little need -- as he himself said on the first weekend of the regular season -- to inform the players of every lineup adjustment ahead of time.
Of course, one of the reasons that Valentine was hired was precisely (italics please) because (end italics) he was the polar opposite of Francona. While the latter was very much a player's manager -- to his detriment in 2011, when players tuned him out and took advantage of his trusting nature -- Valentine is known as a button-pusher, capable of tweaking players publicly in order to motivate or merely to make his point.
Perhaps Valentine's reclusive nature is somewhat understandable. Sources indicate that, following his infamous remark aimed at Youkilis in April, the manager felt he didn't get the support of management. Indeed, GM Ben Cherington publicly sided with Youkilis.
Moreover, a source said Valentine was told to apologize to Youkilis, though it's unclear who made that demand.
And because hiring Valentine wasn't Cherington's idea in the first place -- CEO and president Larry Lucchino invited Valentine into the process, then strongly advised his first-year GM to hire him -- there's a perception that the Sox are a house divided.
Sensing this, some players unhappy with Valentine have taken their complaints to Cherington, who must act as a mediator.
Finally, there's ownership, which, over the years, has gone from present and involved to increasingly distracted by other business interests. While the ownershipupper management troika of Lucchino, John Henry and Tom Werner make themselves visible at high-profile series such as last weekend's three-game set at Wrigley Field or the 100th Fenway Park anniversary in April, they're not nearly as visible as before when the club won two championships in ownership's first six years.
Fairly or not, some around the club see the owners as less immersed in the day-to-day operation of the club, and more preoccupied by other investments.
"It used to be,'' said one player, "that owners used to know everything was going on around here. Now, they have to hear about it from others.''

Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

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Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal ignited a local firestorm when he made a seemingly off-hand comment a few days ago that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Red Sox fired John Farrell this year. (He quickly added he also "wouldn't be surprised" if Farrell stayed on and led the team to the A.L. East title this year, but that got scant mention.)

Today, however, Rosenthal expounded on Farrell and the Sox in a lengthy column on foxsports.com. While acknowledging the team's injuries and beyond-the-manager's-control inconsistencies (in the starting rotation and with the offense), he also ominously added, "The excuses for the Sox, though, go only so far — all teams deal with injuries, and not all of them boast $200 million payrolls. Other issues also have emerged under Farrell . . . "

Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse. Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.

And then he mentioned two leadership problems:

The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, 'it wasn’t me,' then told reporters that it was 'definitely a mishandled situation,' without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name . . . 

The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . [Pomeranz's] willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.

Hmm.

Rosenthal's piece comes at a time when some of Farrell's harshest local critics are more or less giving him a pass, instead blaming Dave Dombrowski's flawed roster construction for the Sox' early season struggles , , , 

But there has been speculation hereabouts on whether or not Farrell has control of the clubhouse . . . 

Now that Rosenthal has weighed in, that sort of talk should increase.

In the end, Rosenthal makes no prediction on Farrell's future other than to conclude "If Dombrowski senses a change is necessary, he’ll make a change." 

But one prediction that can be made: The should-Farrell-be-fired? debate, which raged at unrealistic levels last year when the Red Sox won the division, isn't going to end anytime soon.