BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine on Thursday after one season in which he failed to bring order to a clubhouse that disintegrated during the 2011 pennant race.
Valentine finished with a record of 69-93 on a team that was beset by injuries before management gave up on this season and traded some of its best players - and biggest salaries. Without Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, the Red Sox will save $250 million in future salaries and have a chance to rebuild over the winter.
But that will be too late for Valentine.
A baseball savant who won the NL pennant with the New York Mets and won it all in Japan, Valentine was brought in after two-time World Series champion Terry Francona lost control of the clubhouse in 2011 during an unprecedented September collapse. But the players who had been coddled under Francona bristled under Valentine's abrasive style and, more importantly, didn't win for him, either.
"Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons," general manager Ben Cherington said. "No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame. We've been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club. With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him."
The Red Sox used 56 players in 2012, the most in club history.
"This year's won-loss record reflects a season of agony," Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. "It begs for changes, some of which have already transpired. More will come. We are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade.
"Difficult as it is to judge a manager amid a season that had an epidemic of injuries, we feel we need to make changes. Bobby leaves the Red Sox manager's office with our respect, gratitude, and affection. I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well."
Valentine's tenure ended at the hands of the Yankees, who swept the Red Sox in a series that ended on Wednesday night in New York.
"This season was by far the worst we have experienced in over ten years here. Ultimately, we are all collectively responsible for the team's performance," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said. "We are going to be working tirelessly to reconstruct the ballclub for 2013. We'll be back.
"We thank Bobby for the many contributions he made and for the energy he brought each day. He is a baseball man through and through."
Cherington, who replaced Theo Epstein last offseason, will headman the search for a replacement.
"In our meeting with Bobby, he handled everything with dignity and class, and it is deeply appreciated. Ultimately, we as owners are responsible for arming our organization with the resources - intellectual, physical, and financial - to return to the levels of competitiveness to which we aspire and to which our fans are accustomed," Red Sox owner John Henry said. "Our commitment to winning is unwavering. It is a commitment to this team, to this city, and to these fans who have supported us through thick and thin.
"We have confidence in Ben Cherington and the kind of baseball organization he is determined to build."
A year after a 7-20 September cost the Red Sox a chance at the postseason, the club went 7-22 in September and October to put a punctuation mark on its worst season in almost 50 years. But unlike 2011, when the team took a nine-game lead into the final month, Boston was never competitive under Valentine.
"I understand this decision," Valentine said. "This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation. It was a privilege to be part of the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park and an honor to be in uniform with such great players and coaches. My best to the organization.
"I'm sure next year will be a turnaround year."