Whenever a new head coach or manager gets hired by an organization, the players and executives must be prepared for a series of changes. Usually, a new manager is brought in to help change the culture and transform the way players have been thinking in the past, in an effort to get a fresh start. That’s exactly what new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine is trying to do in Boston, but not without some moans and groans from a few select players.
The official date for pitchers and catchers to report to camp for the Red Sox isn’t until February 21st and position players aren’t mandated to be at camp until February 25th, but there are a handful of players in Fort Myers, FL that are already feeling the effects of Bobby V.’s attempt to change the culture in the Sox clubhouse. A lot of people (Boston players included) knew that there were going to be a lot of changes when Ben Cherington named the successor to former skipper Terry Francona. So, after years of a laid back approach from Tito, there has been some resistance for these new routines. Valentine is an excellent motivator and has a reputation for pushing his players, in an attempt to get the most out of them.
I think that Bobby understands where his players are coming from when he tells them he’s trying to add a couple more Spring Training games to their schedule and even make their games against Northeastern and Boston College nine innings instead of seven, but it’s important in his eyes, and I agree with him. He feels that in order to see what the organization has to put on the field, the only way to know is to see them play as much as possible. When he is more familiar with his players next year, will he try to do the same things? Probably; mostly because thats the way he’s programmed himself as a manager.
It was refreshing to hear some of Boston’s more popular players come out and defend their new manager. Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz said that this is exactly what this team needs to get focused and forget about that terrible collapse that ended their 2011 season much earlier than they had planned. Star first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, basically said the same thing; when they run drills, they are being run for a purpose, not just for the sake of doing them. Those players who are being resistant to this culture change need to listen to their teammates.
I understand that some players don’t feel like they need to change what they do in Spring Training because it has worked in the past, but when your team squanders a nine-game lead in the Wild Card standings with a 7-20 record in September, something needs to change. It doesn’t matter if working harder in Spring Training had anything to do with it or not, things just need to be changed regardless. This next month and a half is the time when Bobby V. needs to grab the attention of his entire roster and show them that he’s not Terry Francona and things are going to be different in 2012 and beyond. It amazes me that players are audacious enough to groan at these changes; they do realize what happened five months ago when the Rays ran past them and into the post season, right?
There’s no secret; I’m a huge Bobby V. fan. As a diehard Mets fan, I was very sad to see him leave Flushing and was one of countless fans begging him to come back before Terry Collins was hired. He has this energy that players feed off of and even though he has high expectations, his former players swear by him. It will take some time to get used to, but like Valentine told his players, just give it a few days. I think he will win his players over before camp breaks in Fort Myers, it’s just going to take a little while.
Do you think that Bobby V. was the right choice to bring the Red Sox back to the post season in 2012? If not, then who would you have chosen if you were in Ben Cherington’s seat?