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Ben Cherington: ‘Bobby [Valentine] is our manager and we’re not considering anyone else’

08.06.12 at 6:41 pm ET
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Red Sox GM Ben Cherington spoke for approximately 20 minutes prior to Monday’s game between his team and the Texas Rangers about embattled Bobby Valentine, at a time when public debate about the manager’s job security has become increasingly vocal with the Sox struggling to a 54-55 record. Cherington said that there are no plans to replace Valentine, and suggested that while Valentine — as a key member of the organization — has played an important part in the team’s struggles, he is merely one contributor to a collective failure.

“Bobby’s our manager and we’re not considering anyone else,” said Cherington. “He’s as committed to managing the team as he ever has been, and we’re committed to him and trying to do everything we can to support him and make this work.

“Ultimately, again, when the performance isn’t what you want — which is not, we acknowledge that — I’ve said this before, winning and losing always has more to do with players than anything else. I don’t question the effort of the players. I think our players have fought and battled, worked hard, played hard, fought out of tough things. It’s not a question of effort. At some level, the players on the team, it’s a reflection of me, it’s a reflection of the front office. So, if players win or lose more than anything else, then I need to be accountable for that. We need to be better day to day and put ourselves in the best position to win tonight, tomorrow, the next day, and we’ll continue to work on those things behind closed doors. We expect what follows to improve. It needs to.”

Asked whether Valentine would remain the manager for the rest of the season, Cherington would not offer a definitive answer.

“I’m not going to comment on that. He’s our manager. I’m not getting into timelines. I’m not going to get into a timeline for myself either,” said Cherington. “We’re just doing the job right now, doing the job the best we can, and we’re focused on making it better and I support Bobby.”

Cherington said that, just as he did at the time of the manager’s hiring, he believes that Valentine is the right person for the job. He spoke highly of his evaluation skills (both in terms of in-game management and creating roster roles). As for the fact that the team has been a disappointment to this date, Cherington did not hide from the fact, but he said that reflects not just on Valentine but also himself as a GM and on the players as well.

“When the performance isn’t there, we’re all going to be criticized. And we earn that. We earn that criticism. I don’t think it’s fair to direct it at any one person. We’re collectively responsible. Bobby’s one of those people. So am I, so are the players, so are the coaches, so is everyone else,” said Cherington. “The performance isn’t where it needs to be. We’re all collectively responsible for that and he’s part of that. … He’s one of the people responsible for that, so anything that I think he can do a little differently, I’m going to talk to him about it and I have talked to him about it. There’s things he’s expressed to me that I can do differently and I’ve taken that to heart. Collectively, we have to perform better.”

Other elements of Cherington’s session:

  • On whether the clubhouse culture has evolved to where Cherington wants to see it: “No, but I don’t know that it could have yet with the way we’ve been playing. It’s never going to look quite the way you want it to when our record is less than we want it to be. I think candidly the answer is no, but I expect that the better we play and the more we put ourselves in the best position to play, the more we’ll look like the clubhouse culture that we want it to be.”Still, Cherington said that the players remained accountable and that the team’s effort level was not at fault for the poor record.

    “I think every player in there knows where they stand. I think they know if they have something to express, they can express it, whether it’s to the manager or anyone else, they have a voice. I think they also recognize pretty clearly that they’re accountable,” he said. “Players have, to a man, said whether it’s in private to me or Bobby or ownership or publicly, they know this is on them more than anyone else.”

  • On the communication between Valentine and the coaching staff: “I think it’s improved. I think, candidly, there were some moments earlier in the season when it probably wasn’t working as well as it needed to. The sort of collective dynamic between coaches and Bobby wasn’t what we wanted it to be, which wasn’t entirely expected with change and the way it happened, but I do know there has been a real effort more recently — amongst the coaches themselves and Bobby — to put whatever miscommunication had occurred in the past behind them and move forward and do the job that they’re all here to do, which is to help the players get ready to play.”
  • On the idea that players are going around the manager (going up the back stairs) to voice their displeasure with him: “I’ve talked to players plenty this year. It’s no different than any other year. Occasionally it’s appropriate for ownership to talk to players. They have a lot at stake here. They should do that. No players are running up the back stairs. I’ve had conversations with players in the open light of the clubhouse. I’ve had conversations on the phone, just like any other year. The content of those conversations will remain private, but it’s been constructive. It’s been focused on what’s going on out here and trying to make this better.”
  • The GM said that he is in frequent touch with the team’s owners to discuss the state of the team and efforts to improve. “I’ve talked to ownership a lot. I’ve talked to them everyday about the state of things because none of us are happy with our record or the performance of our team at this point, so the focus has entirely been on how to make it better — with this group of people, how to make it better.”
  • On whether the team requires a “shake-up”: “I suppose there are different ways to do that. Usually when that question is asked, it relates to a player move. At the deadline, we were in a little bit unfamiliar territory. Part of the conversation was you can sort of justify a middle-ground approach, based on where we are, but would there be the benefit of something more bold in the spirit of the shakeup. Ultimately we decided no, that we believed in this core of players and this was our best chance to play well, was to mostly keep this group together, given the opportunities we had,” said Cherington. “We’re not going to to do a shakeup move, a trade, and get worse, just to do a shakeup. Time will tell the rest of the season and moving forward if those decisions were the right ones. I don’t think necessarily that’s needed. The biggest shakeup would be to collectively perform better, and that starts with me.”
  • On his own outlook amidst the poor results from the major league team: “When things aren’t going well it’s not as fun as when things are going well. But I don’t feel any different than the day I took the job. I know what the task is, I know what we need to do, and I believe very strongly in the future in this organization. We’ve got a lot of good things in place here. We’ve got a good core of players. We’ve got a very strong farm system, and we’ve got a lot of good people. The performance on the field at the major league level is always going to be the focus, as it should be, and that needs to improve.”
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