Farrell Key to Future Red Sox Turnaround
by Tucker Hamlin on Friday, November 2nd, 2012
Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the answer, or at least that is what the Red Sox ownership thought. After Terry Francona, the most popular Red Sox manager in recent history, was run out of town at the end of the September collapse of 2011, the former Mets manager and ESPN analyst was set to take on the job. However, after a 69-93 record this past season, the worst record for a Sox team since 1965, Bobby Valentine was quick to follow Terry out the door.
Valentine cannot shoulder all the blame for this horrible season. He lost his best hitter, David Ortiz, to injury half way through the season, while Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford were traded to the LA Dodgers for prospects. Even still, this all came after the top three starting pitchers in the rotation, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Josh Beckett, had their worst seasons in Red Sox uniforms. The stars just did not align, and from a fans point of view, you could tell the season was plagued from the beginning. In spring training, rumors spread of Bobby and shortstop Mike Aviles having rifts in the clubhouse. Valentine also questioned the work ethic of one of the most popular players, third baseman Kevin Youkilis. If Bobby Valentine’s goal was to have all the players turn on him by the all-star break, he did a pretty good job. So when two days after the season ended Bobby was relieved of his managerial duties, it came as little surprise to many Red Sox fans and players.
Last year, when the Red Sox plunged into the hiring of a new manager, the media was kept highly informed and followed the Red Sox every step of the way as the team drew out the process for weeks. This year, however, the process lasted only two weeks and information about the candidates was less available. The one piece of information known by all was that the Red Sox had their sights set on the Toronto Blue Jays manager, John Farrell. Farrell was a top candidate for the manager position last year, but he was under contract in Toronto and the Blue Jays did not allow the Red Sox to talk with him. But with the Blue Jays enduring their second mediocre season in a row under their highly prized manager, talks began between the two clubs, and they ultimately reached a decision to trade Farrell and relief pitcher David Carpenter to the Red Sox for utility shortstop Mike Aviles.
John Farrell is no stranger to Fenway Park. Before becoming Toronto’s manager in 2010, he joined the Sox organization after the 2006 season as its pitching coach. During his tenure, the Red Sox pitching staff held the best ERA and strikeouts in the league. Additionally, the Sox won a World Series Championship in 2007, with a team that was bolstered by the outstanding pitching of Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
Needless to say, Farrell is accustomed to the pressure and the environment of the Red Sox team and organization, and called “the Red Sox managerial job [his] dream job.”
Although the current Red Sox team is dramatically different from the one that will be on the field for the 2013 season, the Sox have still bolted down a crucial piece in their ongoing rebuilding stage. Farrell not only understands the culture of Red Sox Nation, but also is highly respected and trusted amongst the Red Sox players and ownership. The Red Sox have been out of control, and Farrell is a respected figure who has the ability to strongly influence the clubhouse while also improving Boston’s pitching, which has consistently been at the bottom of the league ever since Farrell’s departure as pitching coach. In short, Farrell is certain to a key component of a resurgent BoSox.
Some, however, question whether the Sox jumped into selecting him too quickly. 15 additional candidates, including former Red Sox Bench Coach DeMarlo Hale and former catcher Brad Ausmus, were sound alternatives. But from the minute the team shed itself of Bobby Valentine, the management had its mind set on Ferrell. Though Farrell has the power to fix the clubhouse attitude and many other parts of the team, he is only one part of the puzzle. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has his work cut out filling spots in left field, right field, shortstop, first base, and, as always, on the mound. From this offseason into next season, the Red Sox will try to build a strong team for the future. While this rebuilding project will not happen over night, the Red Sox do have a nice balance of veteran leaders like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, and young stars like Will Middlebrooks and Ryan Lavarnway. Adding manager John Farrell is a step in the right direction for a team that needs to forget the past two seasons and look to be a title contender once again.
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