The instant reaction from many a Red Sox fan to the question posed in the headline is a resounding, "Yes!" Baseball doesn't tend to work like that, though -- if managers were fired for a few bad decisions in the first season of their job, then you would see very few of them make it through that first year, or even the first month.
John Tomase brings up the point today, though, that the Red Sox aren't letting Bobby Valentine be who he is, and that the version of Bobby V in the manager's seat today isn't one who's respected by his players. Because of this, he's not capable of doing his job in a way that will help the Red Sox, and should be dismissed because of it. Normally, I'm hesitant to make such a move, especially before the manager has completed a season, but there are some items on the list here that, if true, do merit asking the question about whether he should stay or go.
Let's start with a quick defense of Valentine, though. He had some early-season issues with the bullpen, with pulling starters at the appropriate time, and with keeping his mouth shut in regards to some of his players, the most notable of which was Kevin Youkilis. His reliever usage hasn't been perfect since (see Saturday night for a few reminders of that), but it's been vastly improved, and the starters tend to leave when they should these days. He's also been mostly quiet about his players, at least in the negative sense, since he nearly lost the clubhouse a month into the season after opening up about Youk. "Mostly," because Valentine recently spoke up about a player snitching on him in regards to comments he made to Will Middlebrooks, comments that in turn got him a talking to from his bosses about his treatment of young players.
There's also the fact that the team has dealt with tons of injuries, and it's no wonder they're mediocre given the hundreds of player games lost to the disabled list. There's something impressive about them being where they are in spite of this, especially with forgettable performances from some of the starting pitchers.
That being said, and I can't stress the "if true" portion of this enough, there's plenty of evidence that he's not the man for the job, either.
Tomase hits the proverbial nail on the head with a paragraph on why Valentine should be replaced:
We know what you're thinking. "These players have already run one manager out of town. Why should they get to make it two?"
And the answer to that question is simple - because this isn't working. It's not about kowtowing to entitled brats or rewarding bad behavior. It's about accepting reality. Valentine isn't getting the most out of his players - at least one of whom hasn't been shy about reporting his perceived misdeeds to ownership - because his players don't respect him.
If the players don't respect him, then sure, there's an issue with the players. But to bring it back to reality, you aren't going to trade 25 players for the sake of keeping a manager, even if you love that manager. There's no proof in one direction or the other how the Red Sox front office feels about Valentine, but you'd likely be right in assuming that the current core means more to them than who directs it, so long as whoever is in charge is getting the job done.
Another point Tomase brings up, and it's a real good one, has to do with the coaching staff:
And if the organizational holdovers were part of a properly integrated coaching staff, we wouldn't be weakly blaming them for what ails the team, as if Valentine is the first manager in history to inherit coaches. It's his job to manage them, no matter who they are.
Besides which, Tim Bogar, Dave Magadan, and Bob McClure all have well-earned reputations for being easygoing. Before this season, no one had a bad word to say about any of them. Now they're suddenly double agents intent on destroying the team from within?
By all accounts, Bogar is well-respected by the players. Dave Magadan has been a very good hitting coach for this team for some time, and Bob McClure has helped quite a few pitchers with stuff and little in the way of results become useful pieces in 2012 in his first year on the job.
We don't know who the supposed snitch is. We don't know what the players really think of Valentine, as there's been a lot of he said, he said going on all season long. The front office and ownership likely know, though, and if it's true that Valentine holds no sway in the clubhouse, and has been more of a divisive force than a uniting one -- not just with the players, but with the coaching staff, too -- then it might be time to reconsider who is managing the club.
This late into the season, with the Red Sox no longer in the hole that surrounded them in the campaign's early going, things should have turned around in terms of the team respecting Valentine. If that hasn't happened, fair or not to Bobby V, then something should be done. As said before, though, that's if this is all true, and I'm not sure anyone knows what is besides those involved in the situation itself.