In July, a group of mutinous players contacted Henry and Werner and demanded a meeting in New York during a road trip. Despite their complaints about Valentine, he stayed on the job.
Valentine also tangled with the media, often mocking questions or answering them frivolously. When radio host Glenn Ordway asked Valentine whether he had “checked out” on the season, the manager threatened to punch him. It was a joke, he said.
But the controversies, many of them contrived, were not why the Red Sox lost so many games.
They had 27 players, 13 of them former All-Stars, go on the disabled list a franchise-record 34 times. In all, the Sox had 1,495 games missed because of injuries. Valentine never once managed a game with a full complement of the team’s best players.
Valentine also was saddled with a poor rotation, Red Sox starters posting an ERA of 5.15. Bad decisions made before he was hired, including turning ace reliever Daniel Bard into a starter, worked against him.
Injuries to David Ortiz and Will Middlebrooks helped put the team out of contention in August. On Aug. 25, the Red Sox hit the reset button on their franchise with a landmark trade that sent righthander Josh Beckett, outfielder Carl Crawford, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers.
The Red Sox received five players in return and $264 million in long-term payroll savings. Valentine was left with a roster full of minor leaguers, and the Red Sox lost games in bunches through the end of the season.
Now the pressure will fall squarely on Cherington to use the financial flexibility gained in the Dodgers trade to reverse the fortunes of a team that has plunged to the bottom of the American League.
The Red Sox have missed the playoffs for three seasons in a row and have not won a playoff game since 2008. Eighteen teams in the majors have qualified for the postseason since the Red Sox last did.
The Red Sox will start 2013 with their third manager in as many years. To end that George Steinbrenner-like disarray, the next choice must be a good one.
John Farrell, who has had a rocky two seasons as Toronto’s manager after spending five years as Red Sox pitching coach, may be the team’s first choice if the Blue Jays are willing to let him go.
Bogar could get the job after helping to push Valentine out the door. Or the Sox could conduct yet another search and bring a group of candidates to Fenway Park.
A quick decision is paramount. The Red Sox went two months without a manager last season and that backfired. There’s a lot of work to be done, and whoever takes on Boston’s most demanding job needs to get started.