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Valentine needs to be allowed to manage

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff  April 17, 2012 09:31 AM

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"I really don't know what Bobby is trying to do. That's not the way we go about our stuff around here."

- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, speaking to reporters before Monday's game between the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.

And so the Red Sox continue to float aimlessly along, with no apparent direction or leader. The second baseman reprimanded the manager, who tweaked the third baseman, who was asked if he is a snitch. The No. 2 starter is still looking for said mole. The general manager seemed to back his player and not the skipper, whom the GM never wanted and who was all but appointed by the owners, who seem more interested in soccer.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox are 4-6 entering Tuesday night's series opener against the two-time defending American League champion Texas Rangers, who currently have the best record in the American League.

The Bobby Valentine Era is off to a raging start, eh?

Time heals all wounds, or so we have been told, but here's the real problem with the 2012 Red Sox: whether it was Terry Francona last September or Valentine now, the manager doesn't have a leg to stand on. Players undercut him then and they're undercutting him now. (Shame on them for this.) The only people who wanted Valentine here at all are the people on the highest levels of the organization, who presumably brought Valentine here on a two-year contract to shake things up, only to see him castrated by his clubhouse the first time he spoke up.

News flash: Bobby V. talks too much. He cannot help himself. Anyone with half a clue knew this before Valentine ever set foot in Boston, and so no one should be surprised when Valentine is asked a question about Kevin Youkilis and then answers it.

So here's a question for you, folks: why, exactly, is Bobby Valentine here? Seriously. What was he brought in to do? If Red Sox ownership (John Henry and Tom Werner) or upper management (Larry Lucchino) wanted Valentine here to ruffle feathers and put the team on edge, then they need to come out soon and say so. At the moment, after all, Valentine doesn't seem to be getting support anywhere else. Bobby V. has been here all of 10 games and is being booed by the fans, dismissed by his players and lectured to by his GM, which is basically what was happening to Francona at the end of last season.

If the manager of the Red Sox doesn't have credibility or trust within the walls of his own organization, he's certainly not going to get any outside of Fenway Park, either.

For all of his faults -- and he has plenty -- Valentine is now starting to look like a relatively sympathetic figure, though he brings much of his issues on himself. Valentine will be 62 next month. He comes off as self-promoting and disingenuous. But Red Sox fans and players have not so much as given the man a chance, Valentine all but exiled beyond the city limits.

Earth to Red Sox players: Francona covered your backs for eight years and you got him fired last September. You have no right to complain about anything anymore. Had you conducted yourselves with a little more professionalism and been a whole lot more committed, you would likely still possess a secure environment. The moment that blew up, you left yourselves open to an array of possibilities, one of which was a manager who wasn't going to repeatedly tell you how great you are.

If someone like Pedroia has an issue with that, he really needs to take it up with the gluttonous teammates through whose greasy fingers last year's season slipped. We all like Pedroia. We all like what he stands for. But the players work for the manager, not the other way around.

As for Cherington, he was hardly in a position to say no when the Red Sox named him the successor to Theo Epstein. He has waited a long time for the job. But when the GM of the Red Sox says that he read Valentine's comments about Youkilis and came away with the same feeling the player did, well, it certainly feels as if he's leaving his manager on an island. If Cherington had his way, Dale Sveum would undoubtedly be the manager of the Red Sox. Instead, there is now the feeling that neither the players nor the GM want Bobby V. here at all, which leaves Valentine, we think, with only a few friends in very high places.

In the end, as is almost always the case, the line here leads back to Red Sox ownership, which needs to put its foot down some time very soon. Last season, when Red Sox players complained about the schedule, the answer of ownership was to give them all headphones and invite them on John Henry's yacht. So what are they all going to get now? The latest iPad? The players on this club need to be put in their place. They need to be taught the chain of command. They need to understand that they just work here and that Bobby Valentine is their manager, like it or not, or someone needs to be sent packing.

The way things feel right now, after all, there is simply no way this is going to work as is.

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About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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