Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ozzie Guillen vs Bobby Valentine - Who's Worse?

Two of the games strangest managers are finally out of work.  Bobby Valentine and Ozzie Guillen have been dismissed by the Red Sox and Marlins, respectively, with Guillen's exit coming Tuesday afternoon, as reported by the Marlins organization.

Both skippers led their squads to identical 69-93 records during the 2012 campaign, leaving fans in complete disbelief as to how their teams could have ended up at the bottom of the totem pole.  The Red Sox headed into last season as one of the best teams on paper.  With Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz at the top of the rotation, backed by the bats of Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox were poised to be in the playoff mix once again.  More injuries than you could keep track of, Valentine practically running Youkilis out of town, an inexplicably dismal pitching record and a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers sealed the coffin shut on any chances of October baseball in Beantown.

For the Marlins, Ozzie was one of their many offseason acquisitions before the 2012 season.  Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle headlined the new wave of Marlins, joining Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton and a healthy Josh Johnson under Guillen's command.  They weren't decimated by injuries, not by any means, they just couldn't handle the hype.  A new stadium and new look were all in the works for years, and when it came to be Miami's time to shine, they completely fell apart, led by Bell's horrid closing performance.  The club has since traded away Ramirez, Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez.  While the latter two don't mind the collapse -- they're playing for the World Series on the Detroit Tigers after a midseason trade -- Marlins fans and front office alike are left completely baffled as to what went wrong.

Ultimately, the team is only as strong as their weakest link, whether that link is on or off the field.  In these two cases, the managers clearly weren't able to hold the chain together.  But Bobby V takes the cake for not being able to even establish that chain.  Early in the season, he and Youkilis would butt heads not only behind the scenes, but in front of the media.  Bobby V and bullpen coach Gary Tuck were said to go extended lengths of time without communicating with each other; the Sox ex-pitching coach Bob McClure would be the one to handle the bullpen phone.

In Miami, the organization has had its fair share of controversy, and has since sent those problems packing, like Bell and Ramirez.  Bobby V wasn't the only one who was careless around the media -- remember when he praised Fidel Castro and was suspended for five games?  Both guys are great baseball minds, there is no doubt about that.  But when push comes to shove, Bobby Valentine was just too much of a headache in Boston to even want to disperse the blame around the rest of the club. 

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