Skip to content

John Farrell, Shane Victorino and the Boston Red Sox: What a difference a year makes

Oct 31, 2013, 12:41 AM EDT

World Series - St Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox - Game Six Getty Images

BOSTON — In October 2012 John Farrell had just finished a 79-83 season managing the Toronto Blue Jays. Which was worse than his first year as Blue Jays manager. There were rumblings that the Red Sox might want to hire him to replace Bobby Valentine and most Blue Jays fans were OK with that. He hadn’t shown them anything, they felt, and they could probably do better.

In October 2012 Shane Victorino had just posted his worst offensive season in six years. And he finished it up in Los Angeles of all places, having been traded to the Dodgers in midseason. It was the Phillies’ way of telling him “no, we don’t need you anymore and we’d rather not even have to pretend to be interested in your services when you hit free agency this offseason.” With several outfielders on the free agent market it seemed that Victorino would have to scrounge for a job, let alone a decent free agent deal.  Some folks even suggested that he may be done as an effective major leaguer.

In October 2012 the Boston Red Sox had just finished one of the most nightmarish years in their history. Indeed, it had extended back 13 months to their 2011 collapse, in which the Sox had snatched ignominy from the jaws of victory, and lasted all 2012 long. Bobby Valentine was hired, lost control of his team from almost the get-go, and then “led” the Red Sox to a 69-93 record and a last place finish.

What a difference a year makes.

Wednesday night, as he accepted his World Series MVP trophy, David Ortiz said that, as the year began, he didn’t necessarily think that the Red Sox could win a World Series championship. But that started to change once Farrell returned to the Red Sox (he was the pitching coach from 2007 to 2010), Ortiz said. Always a prickly personality, if David Ortiz says you got his attention, you’ve truly made an impression. And Farrell certainly had an impact. A team that couldn’t stay out of the headlines for all of the wrong reasons in 2011 and 2012 went about their business quietly and confidently in 2013. You have to give credit for that to John Farrell.

MORE: Ortiz slugs way to World Series MVP

You have to give Boston general manager Ben Cherington credit for Victorino. Not many people thought a three-year, $39 million gamble on Victorino was a good one. Indeed, it was widely mocked. Part of the mocking was because, in most people’s minds, Victorino was a center fielder who had lost his center fielder’s skills. Signing him to play right field — which he played spectacularly — ended up being a master stroke. Victorino hit .294/.351/.451 and stole 21 bases as well. And while injuries and fatigue sapped him somewhat down the stretch, he drove in seven runs with two swings of the bat — a Grand Slam in the ALCS and a bases-clearing double in Game 6 of the World Series — that iced the Sox’ pennant and World Series title.

And this Sox team? Yes, they technically went from last place to first in the space of a year, but it’s not the sort of team we normally praise as a worst-to-first team. That’s usually reserved for teams which have had long histories of futility and then wildly surpassed expectations.  No one expected the Sox to win the World Series as the season began, but most thought they’d be respectable. And most knew that with the brains in their front office and the resources at their disposal, the Sox wouldn’t be down for long.

MORE: Who came up big in possible Fenway finales?

But in some ways their accomplishment was even more improbable than that of your typical worst-to-first team. There was rot and negativity and shame in Boston a year ago. There were players who could be excused for looking a year ahead to free agency. People who, if they were betting the smart money, would never have bet on this team to flush out all of the toxins of 13 bad months, regroup and put forth an effort as dominant as the one they showed throughout this past year.

A year passed, but time doesn’t always heal all wounds, and even when it does, it doesn’t usually do it so quickly.  But John Farrell, Ben Cherington, Shane Victorino and several others put in the energy that fought back the entropy. And because of it they will spend the next year as World Series Champions.

Latest Posts
  1. Anthony Rizzo wins 2014 Branch Rickey Award

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    Anthony Rizzo Getty Getty Images

    Rizzo won the award in recognition of his community work with pediatric cancer patients.

  2. It certainly looks like Barry Bonds’ criminal conviction is going to be overturned

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT

    Closing Arguments Delivered In Barry Bonds Trial Getty Images

    That’s right: for the 2,559th time, Barry Bonds is gonna walk.

  3. Report: Wally Backman could join Mets coaching staff in 2015

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:11 PM EDT

    Wally Backman, Tim Teufel

    We learned late last week that Wally Backman will join the Mets coaching staff on Friday to finish out the season. Now there’s a chance that he could remain in the major leagues to begin 2015.

  4. VIDEO: Derek Jeter hits first home run at Yankee Stadium this season

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:15 PM EDT

    Derek Jeter Getty Getty Images

    After snapping an 0-for-28 hitless streak last night, Derek Jeter homered at Yankee Stadium tonight for the first time all season.

  5. Giancarlo Stanton gives update on his recovery

    Sep 18, 2014, 8:58 PM EDT

    giancarlo stanton getty Getty Images

    Stanton suffered facial fractures and dental damage when he was hit in the face by a fastball last Thursday.

  6. Ryan Zimmerman goes 1-for-7, runs at 85 percent speed

    Sep 18, 2014, 8:27 PM EDT

    Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals AP

    It’s possible Zimmerman could be activated from the disabled list as soon as this weekend.

  7. Hanley Ramirez back in Dodgers’ lineup Thursday

    Sep 18, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Hanley Ramirez Getty Getty Images

    Ramirez has missed back-to-back starts with an elbow strain.

  8. Josh Hamilton had “sharp stabbing pains” in his chest

    Sep 18, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

    billy hamilton getty Getty Images

    Josh Hamilton rejoined the Angels’ lineup Tuesday after sitting out 10 games with a right shoulder injury, but he missed last night’s game and is out of the lineup again tonight with more shoulder problems.

  9. Diamondbacks shutting down Daniel Hudson

    Sep 18, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT

    Daniel Hudson AP

    Hudson made it back to the majors this month for the first time since June 26, 2012.

  10. Jose Fernandez could begin throwing program on October 1

    Sep 18, 2014, 7:02 PM EDT

    Jose Fernandez AP AP

    Marlins ace Jose Fernandez is still a long way from pitching in the majors again, but he’s very close to picking up a baseball for the first time since his Tommy John surgery on May 16.

  11. Pneumonia could end Nolan Arenado’s season

    Sep 18, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    nolan arenado getty Getty Images

    Arenado has taken a strong step forward during his sophomore season in the majors, batting .287/.328/.500 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI over 111 games.

  12. Brock Holt not cleared to return from concussion

    Sep 18, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    brock holt getty Getty Images

    “Good news, but not as good as it could have been.”

  13. Whatever happened to Khalil Greene?

    Sep 18, 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 5.37.31 PM AP

    Khalil Greene was a first round pick compared to Cal Ripken. Then he was a decent and at times excellent Major League shortstop. Then he disappeared.

  14. Even Google is making me depressed about the Braves

    Sep 18, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    braves logo large

    When you’re mocked by the auto-complete function, you’re pretty much mocked by everything.

  15. Angels scratch Jered Weaver from start after winning division

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Jered Weaver AP AP

    Wade LeBlanc is taking his place, but don’t worry.

  16. Diamondbacks shut down Oliver Perez with “dead arm”

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Oliver Perez, Mike Harkey AP

    Perez had a sub-2.00 ERA before recent problems.

  17. The A’s nightmare continues

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT

    a's logo

    It’s like it’s happening in slow motion and every A’s fan is yelling “nnnnnoooooooo!”

  18. Nationals claim Twins’ Opening Day shortstop off waivers

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Pedro Florimon AP AP

    Pedro Florimon is not a starting-caliber shortstop because he can’t hit, but his defense is good enough to make him a decent utility man at age 27.

  19. Somehow, it keeps getting worse for the A’s

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Sean Doolittle Sean Doolittle

    The only thing more painful than hitting rock bottom is thinking you’ve hit it, only to find out there’s still more room to sink.

Featured video

Angels' 2011 overhaul finally paying off?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3207)
  2. G. Stanton (2532)
  3. A. Rizzo (2294)
  4. H. Ryu (2078)
  5. J. Hamilton (1966)
  1. N. Arenado (1939)
  2. M. Trout (1916)
  3. E. Gattis (1894)
  4. D. Ortiz (1801)
  5. A. Pujols (1747)