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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

In Praise of John

As you almost certainly know by now the Red Sox have parted ways with John Farrell after five seasons as Red Sox managers.  The Sox reached tremendous highs with Farrell at the helm and also some fairly substantial lows.  I think it is fair to say that the general opinion of Farrell is mixed.  I have been a fairly vocal supporter of Farrell and while I recognize some of his shortcomings I think the ledger tilts to the positive rather than the negative on his tenure with the Sox.  As we bid him adieu I thought it worth taking a moment to salute the positives of the John Farrell era.

1. HE WON THE WORLD SERIES - I mean I don’t want to tell anyone how to root or what to feel but if your first memory of John Farrell’s five years as manager of the Red Sox isn’t him standing on that stage out at second base being awarded the Commissioner’s Trophy by Bud Selig I don’t know what to tell you.  The Sox dramatically overachieved in 2013 and Farrell made some moves that ranged from unconventional (Gomes over Nava) to outright questionable (he let Workman bat!?!?!?!?!) but the end result was pretty freakin’ fabulous.

2. He developed the next wave of Red Sox stars - While the World Series title is the most memorable I think this is the most important and maybe least appreciated.  It is fairly troubling to think where the Sox would be without a base that begins with players like Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers,  Mookie Betts, and Andrew Benintendi establishing themselves as good to great regulars.  This era of the Sox needed a manager who could accept and nurture a youth movement and Farrell accomplished this.

3. The Sox won three division titles in five years including two in a row - Here is the list of other Red Sox managers who have done that;                        .  That’s a short list.  If you expand to include pennants in the pre-division era Bill Carrigan won consecutive titles in 1915-16 as did Jimmy Collins in 1903-04 but when your frame of reference goes back over a century you’ve done good.

4. He brought a level of stability - The Sox bridged the gap between Terry Francona and John Farrell with the year of REDACTED.  Farrell was not perfect in his public dealings but to me he always portrayed an image of strength and maturity that REDACTED certainly never had.  Watching as the lineup was introduced on Sunday every player (save sign-carrying Hanley Ramirez) hugged him.  That looked to me like a genuine outpouring of support for the embattled manager.

Look, he wasn’t a great manager.  The Sox fired the best manager they will ever have six years ago.  But three division titles in five years and a World Series title is awfully good.  As Nick Cafardo noted no other manager in baseball can match those accomplishments in the last five years.  In this corner, John Farrell will be remembered fondly.*

*- Now queue the stories about him slaughtering baby hamsters or something.

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 11, 2017 at 05:17 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Silas Wegg Posted: October 11, 2017 at 08:03 PM (#5550583)
He wasn't bad!

No one asked, but I'm going to go ahead and rank the managers as far back as I have an opinion. My interest in the team does overlap with tenures of McNamara, Houk and Zimmer, but I don't really have well-formed opinions on them.

From best to worst:

1. Francona
2. Morgan
3. Jimy Williams
4. Farrell
5. Kevin Kennedy
6. Grady Little
7. Hobson
8. Valentine
9. Kerrigan

I realize I rate Jimy Williams much higher than most people -- I think he was pretty good.





   2. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: October 11, 2017 at 08:10 PM (#5550596)
I don’t think I’d argue with much there Silas. Just working off your list I think I’d put Williams (who I also liked) and Farrell ahead of Morgan (who I didnt) but I can’t argue with much else. Maybe flip Kennedy and Little too.
   3. villageidiom Posted: October 12, 2017 at 10:34 AM (#5551029)
Kerrigan was not a good manager. But I think he had a really bad hand dealt to him. You had the players, Williams, and Duquette; and by the end the players were sick of Duquette. Replacing Williams with someone clearly worse but who got along with Duquette meant the players were not going to be managed well.

Hobson was dealt a bad hand in terms of roster quality, but IMO he made it worse.

Valentine was dealt a kick-ass hand and lit the good cards on fire.

In terms of what they did with what they had Boston, I'd rank them in that order. Otherwise I'm good with Silas' list.

As for Farrell, I don't know. I've said before that if not for the marathon bombing the team would not have done nearly as well that year. They won and he didn't stop them, but I don't know how much of it was Farrell being Farrell as opposed to Farrell being Not-Valentine.
   4. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: October 12, 2017 at 10:49 AM (#5551046)
The flipside of point #3 is that no other Red Sox manager has ever finished last twice in a row in the AL East since the divisional format has been introduced.

Farrell will be fine, he's a B-/C+ manager with a good resume. Grady Little was a C-/D+ manager and got another job!
   5. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 12, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5551059)
I'm not sure I want to give Farrell too much credit for the young guys:

- Benintendi is a rookie who looks good, but he was mashing in the minors, and he played every day once he came up. He's clearly one of the three best OF'ers they have.
- Devers came up out of desperation, and started fast. He slowed down a bit as he made his way around the league, but the real challenge for Farrell would have been if Devers started off 2-for-35 or something, like Ripken or Pedroia did. When a young player starts off hot, it removes any pressure to bench the young guy.
- Betts started going bananas in the minors, and then blasted through the system. He was not as good this year as he was last year, though that may simply be the randomness of baseball causing year-to-year fluctuation.
- Bogaerts has improved defensively, but he is two years away from free agency, and do you know any Red Sox fans who want to lock Bogaerts into a long-term deal for big money? He is still young, and may develop further as a hitter, but I think Bogaerts has stalled developmentally. If he is basically the same player at the end of 2019, when he becomes a FA, I honestly don't know what to do with him. I thought he had a real chance to becomes this generation's Robin Yount, developing as a hitter into his mid-to-late 20s, but by now, Yount had developed a fair amount more than Bogaerts has - and the wrinkle of a big payday in two years makes it tricky. Red Sox fans cannot feel great about Bogaerts' development.
- Farrell (and the organization) couldn't have handled Swihart worse if you tried. His career is completely derailed after being one of the two best catching prospects in baseball. He came up, hit reasonably well out of the shoot, and then they started trying to figure out what to do with him. 3B, 1B, left field...awful.
- Farrell's calling card was supposed to be the handling of pitchers, but what is his record with handling pitching prospects? Brian Johnson and Henry Owens have failed. ERod remains more of a prospect than a product. Steven Wright was a great story, but ever since he was injured as a pinch runner, he has not been the same. Matt Barnes, Robby Scott, Joe Kelly? All have been useful, but when they enter the game, does anybody feel confident?

I'm not saying any/all of this is at the feet of Farrell, but it is tough to say that he gets credit for the development of young talent. I would argue that the total product of the 2017 Bogaerts/Benintendi/JBJ/Betts/Vazquez/Devers/Travis Young Guns was rather average offensively, but it is what the organization is betting its future on the next several years. The team is in a precarious position entering 2018, but is locked into that position.
   6. Darren Posted: October 13, 2017 at 12:44 PM (#5553163)
My hope is that the reason that Farrell was dismissed was related to allowing players to decide if they're healthy enough to play. This is a problem that dates way back but has certainly continued under Farrell. As just one example, Hanley was a replacement level player all this season. Then at the end of the season, Speier reported that Hanley was glad that his shoulders finally felt right. This is a player who has an incentive clause in his contract that is supposed to only kick in if he is healthy and effective enough to play in 2017 and 2018. He wasn't either. But he just kept playing. That's just one example. Managing pitcher workloads is a related issue.

I'm hoping that was a big part of it, not the losing in the playoffs garbage.
   7. covelli chris p Posted: October 14, 2017 at 04:48 PM (#5553885)
agree with 2. i'd put valentine last, below kerrigan. and if kerrigan gets a spot, let's add torey lovullo and roudn this into a top 10. i don't think farrel was very good (and think they should have moved him up to some amorphous front office job after the cancer and handed the reigns over to lovullo, who i think was off to a great start), so i'd slot lovullo between farrell and jimywocky, who was severely underrated, imho.
   8. covelli chris p Posted: October 14, 2017 at 04:50 PM (#5553887)
thinking about it more, keeping both farrell and lovullo around, rather than making the right call, was classic cherington. the guy just refused to make the tough decisions, preferring to stockpile depth, over and over and over, while that depth either rotted, or went elsewhere.
   9. Morton's Fork Posted: October 17, 2017 at 06:09 AM (#5555543)
Farrell can't be canned on technical grounds; to me he was a great pitching coach and a very good manager. I should think that Dombrowski feels he needs a different guy; that happens in baseball - they're both very intense and it's easy to imagine some friction between them.

If Alex Cora becomes Tito II then this is a great move.

If, otoh, DD rehires, eg, Bobby Valentine, then I may have to register a complaint.
   10. Morton's Fork Posted: October 17, 2017 at 06:11 AM (#5555544)
Farrell can't be canned on technical grounds; to me he was a great pitching coach and a very good manager. I should think that Dombrowski feels he needs a different guy; that happens in baseball - they're both very intense and it's easy to imagine some friction between them.

If Alex Cora becomes Tito II then this is a great move.

If, otoh, DD rehires, eg, Bobby Valentine, then I may have to register a complaint.
   11. Morton's Fork Posted: October 17, 2017 at 06:18 AM (#5555545)
Farrell can't be canned on technical grounds; to me he was a great pitching coach and a very good manager. I should think that Dombrowski feels he needs a different guy; that happens in baseball and it's OK - they're both very intense and it's easy to imagine some friction between them.

If Alex Cora becomes Tito II then this is a great move.

If, otoh, DD rehires, eg, Bobby Valentine, or even worse, Brad Ausmus, then I may have to register a complaint.
   12. Morton's Fork Posted: October 17, 2017 at 06:22 AM (#5555546)
tm;dcw
too many; drunks can't write

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