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Red Sox banking on John Farrell becoming a better manager in Boston

Oct 21, 2012, 2:52 AM EDT

John Farrell Getty Images

There’s simply no way the Red Sox could have looked at John Farrell’s work in Toronto and came away with the idea that he was a great manager. The Blue Jays were a horrible baserunning team, they had Omar Vizquel questioning their clubhouse leadership and their win total decreased in both of his years at the helm.

It was Farrell’s success with pitchers in Boston that played a huge role in getting him the Blue Jays gig. Yet Farrell could do nothing to aid Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil as they regressed. The only Toronto starter to break through under his tutelage was Brandon Morrow and then only for 21 starts.

And yet the Red Sox wanted Farrell back. Badly enough to surrender compensation to Toronto to get him, though the price (infielder Mike Aviles and perhaps taking on first baseman Adam Lind’s salary) wasn’t as high as many speculated.

Three guesses as to why they chose him:

1. There’s simply no one better equipped to help Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard overcome their struggles. All three had their best seasons in 2010 immediately before Farrell departed. And while the collapses for all three came this year, it’s worth noting that all took steps backwards in 2011 first.

2. Farrell already has the respect of the clubhouse. And unlike the team’s 2012 bench coach Tim Bogar and former bench coach DeMarlo Hale, he doesn’t carry the stink of the 2011 collapse around with him, since he left after the 2010 season.

3. The Red Sox are probably assuming that improvement will come with experience. Terry Francona was a dreadful manager, far worse than Farrell, when he was in Philadelphia. I thought Bob Melvin was brutal in Seattle. Look at him now in Oakland.

As I made clear a couple of weeks ago, I’m not particularly impressed with the choice. Brad Ausmus, Dave Martinez and Sandy Alomar Jr. are candidates to become the next great manager, and the Red Sox bypassed them all in favor of a guy whose first gig ended in failure. That said, if Farrell can get better results from Lester and Buchholz and maybe even get Bard turned around, it’ll more than make up for whatever in-game strategy mistakes he makes.

  1. illadelphiasphinest - Oct 21, 2012 at 3:09 AM

    Francona, Valentine, now Farrell.
    Whats with this organization? Francona was a bumb with the Phillies, but got bailed out by a redic lineup that was on roids to win the WS. Valentine is just an idiot. I have no idea how he even got the job in the first place. He’s was a moron Baseball Tonight, and a terrible manager before that. Now Farrell on a team that just traded away all of their best players. Things are looking any better for Beantown next season so far.

    • dan1111 - Oct 21, 2012 at 5:24 AM

      Granted, the win-loss record is much more due to the players than the manager. Nevertheless, your take on Francona is counterintuitive, to say the least.

      The last year with Bobby Valentine should illustrate just how good Francona was at keeping the clubhouse together.

      • illadelphiasphinest - Oct 21, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        Countertuitive…. Look at his stats as the Phillies manager.
        97′- 68-94
        98′- 75-87
        99′- 77-85
        00′- 65-87
        He he was a great manager with no talent right….. Goes to Boston 4yrs later and wins the WS with a stacked lineup.
        So now he’s in Cleveland where their best player is Choo. Bout he’s gonna win the WS this time around.
        As for Farrell the Red Sox just shipped out all of their best players. Pedrioa is injury prone, Lester has been in decline, Clay Bucholtz threw a no-no like 6yrs ago, and they all think he’s the next comong of Pedro or something. Like really…… Bobby V is a moron and he ruined that team. Francona just let them do their thing, drink beers, n play xbox during the games. Yea he’s fantastic!!

      • teaspoon1731 - Oct 21, 2012 at 5:12 PM

        I’m sorry illadelphiasphinest, did you just refer to the ’04 Sox as a stacked lineup? I mean, yeah he sucked in Phili. This article even makes that pretty clear. But Francona was boss in Boston. But that lineup was not stacked. ’07 sure, ’04 hell no.

      • hammyofdoom - Oct 21, 2012 at 10:20 PM

        Ok I’m sorry but since fucking when did the Red Sox not have an absolutely stacked line-up in 2004? Mark Bellhorn was perhaps their weakest hitter and he was .264 with 17 Home runs. Varitek batted nearly .300 with 18 home runs, Milliar .297 with 18, Manny Ramirez and Ortiz combined for 84 homers. The Red Sox offense had the most runs scored, best OPS, most hits, most doubles not in the AL but in all of baseball. Sorry teaspoon, but you REALLY should look at stuff like that first. I mean Jesus that team set the record for most doubles in a single season ever (the 2008 rangers beat them not long after).

    • anxovies - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      And Liverpool is 14 points behind in the EPL. As long as you have Mr. Henry you will never walk alone.

      • hockeyflow33 - Oct 21, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        No one cares about soccer

      • tashkalucy - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:29 PM

        Randy Lerner does!

        He sold his Cleveland Browns NFL team so he can concentrate on his soccer team.

    • Senor Cardgage - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      A bumb? That’s dum.

  2. btwicey - Oct 21, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    And the team that is sitting back having a little chuckle to themselves at all these desperation moves : Cleveland.

    • paperlions - Oct 21, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      Yeah, if I was running a team with a roster as holey as swiss cheese….I’d be chuckling at the choices of other teams too…..wait, no I wouldn’t.

    • tashkalucy - Oct 22, 2012 at 6:32 PM

      Desperation moves?

      before the Indians hired Acta to manage they asked Ferrall to come in for an interview. Farrell said thanks, but he was happy as a pitching coach in Boston. The next year he signed to manage the Jays.

      No one is knocking a wall down to come to Cleveland to serve or play in any capacity with the Cleveland Indians. Terry Francona sure has something strange going on.

  3. jaysjunkie - Oct 21, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    Farrell seemed like a nice enough guy during his time here in Toronto and I’m not terribly disappointed to see him go from a managing standpoint, but this whole thing just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. I look forward to hearing details from both sides about how this went down, but my initial reaction to this announcement is I hope him and his new employers fall flat on their faces.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 21, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      It appears that after all the leaks from the Red Sox, AA asked Farrell if he wanted to leave. When Farrell said that managing the Red Sox was his dream job, then AA started negotiating. He said that if he did not get compensation, he would have kept Farrell. There was no way that he would accept a minor league suspect for Farrell. Aviles is a useful bench player who can play both middle infield positions if necessary. The Jays had to clear a position on the 40 man roster so they gave Carpenter to the Red Sox. Based on the way he pitched last season, Carpenter is now Boston’s problem.

      • jaysjunkie - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:31 PM

        Interesting – I hadn’t read that news about AA. Carpenter is certainly no loss and I hope the Jays aren’t planning on making Aviles the full-time 2B or SS (should Escobar possibly get moved)…I was counting on them filling Kelly “K” Johnson’s hole with more of an impact player.

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:40 PM

        Hechavarria might play second next season with Aviles on the bench. Alternatively, the Jays might trade for a second baseman. Do not think that there are any impact free agents who play second base.

      • soxfan1966 - Oct 22, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        Interesting that the Jays never offered Farrell an extension, so he was headed into next season as a lame duck in Toronto. There are a number of rumors floating around that Anthopoulos and Farrell did not work well together — some accounts place a lot of blame upon Anthopoulos for basically meddling in the day-to-day management of the team and not trusting his own manager. I would think that if Anthopoulos was that comfortable with Farrell as his manager for 2013, then an extension would have been in the works. I wonder if a lot of Anthopoulos’ righteous indignation over the Red Sox management is his way of deflecting that criticism away from himself.

        That being said, I am not one of those who thinks that Farrell is the answer to the Sox woes. Personally, I think they should have left Farrell with Toronto and gone with someone like Ausmus, Alomar, or Torey Lovullo. However, it appears that Farrell is more on the same page with the Cherington, so maybe a better relationship with the GM will mean a better chance that Farrell can blossom at Fenway. I think that there are more than a few Sox fans who hope this will be the case.

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:41 PM

        Those rumors about AA and Farrell not being in sync with each other all started in BOSTON.

      • soxfan1966 - Oct 22, 2012 at 5:34 PM

        Really? I heard a lot of Jays fans saying much the same thing this season.

  4. sjhaack - Oct 21, 2012 at 4:23 AM

    Whoa now, let’s back this way WAAAAAY up.

    “Francona was a dreadful manager, far worse than Farrell, when he was in Philadelphia”. By what measure are you making that assessment? I assume it’s win-loss record, because just like if you judge pitchers on their win-loss record you’re going to be getting some wicked confirmation bias if that’s how you compare managers.

    I feel quite confident that while Tito learned a thing or two from his first stint managing, the biggest difference in his second tour as Manager was taking over a team that had a competent front office willing to spend money and crafted a distinct role for their manager, and also was literally outs from going to the World Series the previous year.

    Looking at the late-90s Phillies and saying “yep horrible manager” when they, for instance, ran Rico Brogna out for TWO THOUSAND PAs when he was managing just because they didn’t have anyone else that could play first base and weren’t willing to spend to upgrade is either intellectually dishonest or just incredibly shallow thinking, and it’s frustrating to see something like that here when usually it’s not.

  5. proudlycanadian - Oct 21, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    Farrell had nothing to do with Morrow’s performance. Credit pitching coach Bruce Walton for that. By the way, Marcum has sent a strong signal that he wants to return to Toronto as long as Bruce Walton remains the pitching coach.

    • cur68 - Oct 21, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Dude, what are you, the webpage Cop? Why don’t you go bug a troll or someone? Jeez. You act like PC personally insulted your heredity by being off on whom the Beav would get for compensation for Farrell. So WHAT? Who in hell cares if PC got it right or not.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 21, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      The awesome repartee from the kid with the awesome zits is tres formidable. I am shaking in my boots at the sheer awesomeness of of the prose emanating from his moms basement.

      • proudlycanadian - Oct 21, 2012 at 6:37 PM

        Get a life kid. There are more important things in life than this forum.

  6. papalurchdxb - Oct 21, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Farrell is the answer.

    I have no desire to know what the question was.

    On a team which is, frankly, rebuilding itself and hoping oft-injured players remain strong, the Front Office have missed a trick in not letting a promising coach who everyone seems to speak very highly take the job. Hale is by all accounts a great coach and player manager and should have been given the job.

    Farrell is a pitching coach with 2 good years coaching great young pitchers who are not the same physically or mentally as they were back in 2009 and 2010. To pin his credentials on potentially, maybe, perhaps resurrecting a depleted staff is very shortsighted.

    Never mind Mr. Hale, there’ll be a ‘next time’ sooner than any of us would wish to imagine.

    • hockeyflow33 - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:13 AM

      Boston isn’t a place for first time managers to learn as they go

      • papalurchdxb - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:37 AM

        Not if they’re hung out to dry like a puppet in the wind by the front office, no, but if they’re given adequate support to deal with the BS media circus in Boston and the right guidance by senior management of the organisation I do not see why that old chestnut should be rolled out.

        A struggling organisation that needs new ideas/view point will die a slow death employing dinosaurs continuously.

        I hope for the best for Boston every season, but until the approach is changed in hiring staff it’s going to be a never ending cycle.

      • hockeyflow33 - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        I’m not sure Cherington or Farrell qualify as dinosaurs

  7. blurkle - Oct 21, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    As a lifelong Jays fan, this is terrific news for us. Farrel had completely lost the clubhouse and he made no strides over the past two years with regard to his in-game management or his general strategy.

    The team was a mess on the basepaths, he was not able to reign in or find a balance for the players AA brought in with questionable attitudes (Lawrie, Escobar, and Rasmus) and he there were no signs that his experience as a pitching coach made an impact on the team, as aside from Morrow, every pitcher regressed during his stay. Every Jays fan I know is quite happy letting him go and by mid-season were hoping this case would unfold with Valentine sinking in Boston.

  8. coloradostupid - Oct 21, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Hey Matthew, you’re a national columnist, and kids read this stuff – please don’t bastardize the English language. Grammatical errors like these just make you look foolish and decrease your credibility, if any. Past perfect tense is “Red Sox could have come” not “Red Sox could have CAME”. Go back to the 7th grade already.

    • paperlions - Oct 21, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      If you are going to criticize grammar, at least fix the biggest problem with the sentence, which was word economy: “came away with the idea that” = decided….as in, “There is no way the Red Sox could have looked at John Farrell’s work in Toronto and decided he was a great manager.”

    • hockeyflow33 - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      I like the fact that he knows better than lifelong baseball people and how they failed to impress him with this hire

      • paperlions - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        You mean how nearly everyone on the planet knew better than to hire Valentine except for many of these alleged “lifelong baseball people)?

        Doing something a long time doesn’t mean you are good at it or even understand it…it just means you have done it a long time. There are plenty of lifelong baseball people that regularly make the same mistakes they’ve been making for decades.

        To me, the biggest question about this hire is the apparent reason for it. Cherrington was apparently more comfortable with Farrell than the other candidates, not more impressed by him….he didn’t even interview, they are just assuming he would make a good manager and has some plan/vision moving forward based on their personal history with him….plus being familiar with and liking someone doesn’t exactly make you less biased in their favor. This has “I hired a friend and it didn’t work out so well” written all over it.

      • hockeyflow33 - Oct 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM

        Except that the baseball people in the Sox front office didn’t want Valentine. That was a Lucchino decision

  9. tfbuckfutter - Oct 21, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    So glad Aviles is gone.

    Now if they stop trying to build a team with Royals and Athletics castoffs MAYBE they won’t have to hire their 4th manager in a year or two.

  10. aceshigh11 - Oct 21, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    This is going to be interesting.

    Farrell was a pretty decent pitching coach in Boston.

    Not sure what exactly miracles Jays fans were expecting Farrell to perform in Toronto, but at least he got some managing experience under his belt.

    Look, let’s just state the obvious: a team stacked with talent can win with an average manager.

    I don’t think that either Joe Torre or Terry Francona qualify as brilliant in-game strategists like, say, Tony LaRussa. They made their reputations managing amazingly-talented teams.

    They were both known for their sense of calm and their ability to manage egos in the clubhouse and in massive sports media markets.

    Now, a REALLY bad manager can flat-out lose games for a good team, but a team loaded with talent is going to find ways to win even with a so-so manager at the helm.

    And Valentine isn’t a good case of a manager screwing up a talented team, because the situation in Boston this year was almost unprecedented:

    A clubhouse that was in complete chaos going back to the end of last year, and the Sox went and hired the ONE GUY in MLB who was capable of making the situation even worse.

    • proudlycanadian - Oct 21, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      Hiring Bobby V was a strange decision. Farrell is different. He interviews very well, talks a good game and looks good in a uniform. Will he develop into a very good manager? Don’t know! The potential is there, but pitching coaches rarely become successful managers. Still too early to tell. The more I think about him, the more I think he resembles Romney.

  11. mattymatty - Oct 22, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    In the second sentence, Matthew, you claimed the Blue Jays were “a horrible baserunning team.” Where are you getting that from? Fan Graphs has the Jays as the tenth best baserunning team in baseball and the fourth best in the American League. Baseball Reference has Toronto as a middle-of-the-pack team in stolen base percentage, and they were the second best AL team in taking an extra base.

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