Is Keeping John Farrell The Right Move?

In the wake of the Red Sox season being swept away, questions arose surrounding much of the ‘behind-the-scenes” personnel. The main focus was on manager John Farrell. After a disappointing end to the season, many fans thought their tenure with Farrell was bound to end. On Tuesday, however, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski told John FarrellFarrell, in a Fenway Park hallway, that he’d be back as manager in 2017.

John Farrell went through a roller-coaster 2016 season, much like his team, with plenty of criticism. Farrell, the pupil, was completely outmatched by Terry Francona, the teacher, in the ALDS. It all seemed like a fitting end for Farrell’s time in Boston. To the disappointment of many, that was not to be.

The main criticism of John Farrell has been his ability to manage during the game. Bullpen moves, pinch-hitters, and pinch-runners have buried Farrell’s reputation in the Boston market seemingly every game. When asked about the issue Tuesday, Dombrowski told the media that in-game managing was not vital to the job. Once you get past that absolutely unbelievable assumption, the decision to keep Farrell just keeps getting worse.

So, if in-game management doesn’t matter, what did John Farrell do well? Over the course of the year, he has received praise for how he’s worked with the younger players. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley had All-Star seasons, and Mookie Betts is still the front-runner for MVP; their regular season can not be considered a disappointment. The playoffs, however, were a different story. Those three players went a combined 4-32 in the ALDS with 12 strikeouts. Any way you cut it, those guys were not ready for the post-season.

John Farrell’s So-Called “Pitching Prowess”

Farrell was also seen as something of a pitching guru when he was brought back to the Red Sox in 2013. For about four out of the six months of this 2016 season, the starting pitching was catastrophic. In the post-season, they returned to form. His big ticket, David Price, threw up in the post-season and then choked on his own vomit. For all intents and purposes, he was like the prophet Jonah if Jonah was swallowed by the whale. His starters only went just over 11 innings in the series and none were really effective. Now, he’s not the pitching coach and I get that. That being said, it all falls under him and he is a pitching guy…

So yes, John Farrell will probably lose the blame on Red Sox pitching when Bill Belichick stops receiving blame for the Patriots defense.

When you really look at it, what does Farrell do exceptionally well? How many playoff wins does he have in the last three years? What other playoff manager hurt his team more than John Farrell? To save yourself some time here it is: no, it is not the right move. Farrell’s biggest decision as manager has been to play Travis Shaw over Pablo Sandoval this season. So, yes, John Farrell’s greatest move as manager was playing a better hitter over a third baseman the size of a tow truck. Red Sox Nation best get ready: the manager of your dreams is still in the visitors dugout.

No October Dramatics, One Fitting Goodbye for David Ortiz

We romanticized about the notion as we watched David Ortiz’s final season.

At 40, in his final season with the Red Sox, Big Papi would not only get the regular-season MVP after a 38-homer, 127-RBI regular season, he would carry the Yawkey Way Kids to one final World Series championship, slugging home runs into the cold, October night.David Ortiz But that’s the danger of romanticized notions. The downfall of hope and faith. We romanticize all the time. It makes us smile. Gives us hope the world can turn out just as we like it.

But it’s self-indulgent. Fictions of our own hearts. The ending we choose rarely plays out. It certainly didn’t this October with Ortiz and the Sox. Ortiz was supposed to lead the Red Sox to their fourth World Series this century and coast off into a sunset as beautiful as the advertisements for resorts in his native country. In reality, it was all romantic notions.

Cleveland swept the Red Sox out of the American League Divisional Series, finishing off the job Monday night, Oct. 10, at Fenway Park in a 4-3 win. Papi was hardly a factor in the series — one hit, one RBI, no homers. We wanted another Hollywood Ortiz script. Instead we got cold, hard reality: good pitching beats good hitting.

Nothing wrong with reality. We’re little creatures on this earth with big dreams that sometimes fall short. Reality for the game of baseball is that most of the time, the ball does not land safely between the nine defensive players on the diamond. Most of the time, the wind knocks down the ball seemingly destined to go over the wall. Not all nine players are in sync on one night.

David Ortiz: In the Finale, He’s Human

In the final playoff series of his career, Ortiz finally proved he was human all along, a little creature in this big world just like us. His performance kept our romanticized notions trapped in our hearts, stowed away for later use for another Boston star.

There were no home runs on this October night, only an RBI sacrifice fly and a walk in Papi’s final at-bat. Nothing poetic there. Papi, the Yankees killer, Senor Octubre, upstaged in his final professional baseball game by old friend Coco Crisp, whose two-run homer into the Monster seats was the difference. How unceremonious for Papi.

But did this story have a bitter ending? Was this that heartbreaking? Maybe the real victory in this Red Sox season simply was being able to HAVE hope one last time in October. Hope that Ortiz put the ball into the visitor’s bullpen to tie the game. Hope that Papi’s troops would rally around him.

Maybe just having David Ortiz around for three more games in October was the perfect ending. Maybe watching him rise from the Sox dugout after Game 3 ended to cries of “Papi!” “Papi!” throughout Fenway Park for a final curtain call on the pitcher’s mound was all we really needed.

David Ortiz got a proper goodbye to Boston in a place he called home for 14 magical years. No words, just a two-plus-minute, teary salute to the home crowd. No dramatic October home runs to celebrate.

Just one epic, fitting goodbye. Maybe that was our perfect ending after all.

Pedroia, Not Ortiz, is the Red Sox Backbone

David Ortiz received a tremendous amount of attention this season due to his retirement. A bridge bears his name, he’s a member of the 500 HR Club, and he’s a true humanitarian. Ortiz, however, has certainly overshadowed his teammates, specifically Dustin Pedroia. As the Red Sox Backbone, Pedroia, not Ortiz, is the team’s true leader.

Players like Pedroia are a rarity in baseball today. He’s a man who comes to the ballparkred sox backbone ready to play no matter what. He doesn’t hesitate to admonish other players. He plays with an intensity hardly seen in other ballplayers. That’s not to say other ballplayers don’t work hard or care about the game. The difference though is that Pedroia is ALWAYS in this frame of mind. Whether you see him on or off the field, or before or after a game, the man constantly focuses on winning.

Pedroia a beast. He won the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year and a World Series title. He won the AL MVP Award the following season and took home a Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove Award. The four-time All-Star, and four-time Gold Glove winner collected 201 hits this season. At the age of 33, when many players are seeing their abilities deteriorate, Pedroia’s are holding steady. It’s not just his accolades and numbers that make him such a good player though. It’s his ability to motivate his teammates that makes him the Red Sox backbone.

David Ortiz is a Red Sox Legend, But Pedroia is the Red Sox Backbone

Regardless of whether the Red Sox win the World Series this year, Pedroia is clearly on his way to achieving legendary status. While largely responsible for the Red Sox success, Pedroia contributes to the success of others, too. Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi currently lives with Pedroia, who couldn’t be a more perfect mentor. Pedroia is not afraid to have “Come to Jesus” meetings on the mound with Eduardo Rodriguez. When it comes to breaking records, it’s clear that Pedroia cares more about success than personal gain.

Pedroia Doesn’t Care About Records

When Pedroia came within a hair’s breath of tying MLB’s consecutive hits record this season (which is 12), the second baseman didn’t give it much attention. “I heard something, but I didn’t know what it was,” Pedroia told CBS Sports. “I was going to the bathroom, and I heard them say it on TV. I didn’t really catch what they were saying.” In fact, Pedroia doesn’t have much tolerance for trivial matters. When told that he had a 16-game hitting streak going, Pedroia didn’t care. “I don’t give a $#!t,” he told Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato. “I’m just playing the game. That’s my job, to go out there and play and help us win games.”

Like Bobby Doerr before him, Pedroia brings a quiet but forceful intensity to the game. And like Doerr, there’s no doubt that Pedroia will one day get inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame where he will join other Red Sox legends, including David Ortiz.

Can Sox Credit John Farrell For Turnaround?

John Farrell’s managerial skills have attracted criticism and anger from fans and writers alike. Despite leading the Red Sox to a World Series in 2013, the team finished at the bottom in 2014 and 2015. There are many possible reasons that explain the first-to-worst finish. Some experts point to a pattern of defending World Series Champions taking a nose dive following a successful season. Others point to a weak lineup and pitching rotation. Can the Red Sox credit John Farrell for the team’s turnaround? After an eleven game winning streak and a playoff berth, many say yes. Or does it really matter who is at the helm of a team?

Going back to the introduction, it’s rare, but not uncommon, to see World SeriesSox credit John Farrell Championship teams take a turn for the worst. The 2013 San Francisco Giants finished in last place following a championship season. So did the 1998 Florida (now Miami) Marlins. Before then, however, records show that many defending champs finished first again, if not second or third. So while it’s not unheard of, it’s not common either. So does that mean Farrell can take the credit for leading the team to a playoff berth?

Let’s also go back to the issue of hitting and pitching. Casey Stengel’s New York Yankees won five consecutive World Series between 1949 and 1953. Does that make him a good manager? Well, considering that the Yankees had players like Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizutto, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford in those years, one might argue that they should take all the credit. In other words, Stengel was successful because of the failsafe lineup of hitters and pitchers on the team. The 1962 New York Mets, however (who Stengel also managed), went 40-120. These numbers show that in some cases it’s more about hitting and pitching than managing. With such a strong lineup, why didn’t the Red Sox do better in 2015?

Sometimes It’s All About Who’s Driving, and Who’s Steering

I take that back. The Red Sox 2015 lineup wasn’t that strong. Sure, the Red Sox had David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia in their lineup, but most of them have a less than stellar year. Ortiz hit 37 homers but batted only .273. Ramirez hit only .249 and played shoddily in left field. Pedroia was out for much of the season. With this lineup of injuries and flaws, it’s no wonder they finished last. These same players are now having a career year. Ortiz is playing like he’s in his prime again. Ramirez could very well snag an MVP award. Pedrioa is looking as good as ever. The Red Sox have improved as a team this year, especially since the All-Star break. So can the Red Sox credit John Farrell for that kind of turnaround? Hardly.

The Red Sox Credit John Farrell, But Will the Fans?

Farrell might be managing a playoff team this year, but given how consistent the team does when they’re injury-plagued, I’m inclined to believe the Red Sox success has more to do with the success of their hitting and pitching. That isn’t to say Farrell can’t take any credit. After all, he’s still in charge, and one could easily argue that he’s now working with a team healthy enough to follow through with his strategies.

Managers who won World Series Championships with weak hitting are few and far in between. The team is playing well now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Red Sox credit John Farrell for their successes.

David Ortiz Continues To Show Class

As the sun sets on his career, David Ortiz continues to show class and respect to friends and foes alike. Throughout the season, Ortiz has remained humble as opposing teams shower him with gifts and admiration that caps a 20-year career in the majors. The gifts themselves are more than apporopriate. The Houston Astros gave “Big Papi” a custom-made black Stetson cowboy hat. The Seattle Mariners gave him 34 pounds of salmon. The Kansas City Royals gave Ortiz a chair from the 2013 All-Star Game. The Baltimore Orioles gave Ortiz the dugout phone he destroyed with a bat in 2013. But in all the tributes opposing teams have shown Ortiz, he has shown only gratitude in return.

It’s very rare for retiring players to receive this much attention. In recent years, only playersDavid Ortiz continues like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Cal Ripken Jr. have received such honors. With the first two for-sure Hall of Famers, and Ripken already inducted, it’s all but guaranteed that Ortiz will enter the hall in his first year of eligibility. What makes David Ortiz such an icon isn’t just his numbers, or his clutch hitting. It’s his ability to inspire confidence, hope, and selflessness in the wake of tragedy.

As David Ortiz Continues His Farewell Tour, His Humbleness Ensues

Bostonians remember Ortiz’s famous words days after the Boston Marathon Bombing. The words “This is our f—ing city!” rang through Fenway Park when Americans needed to hear it. Red Sox fans’ spirits soared with the grand slam ball he hit in the 2013 ALCS championship game. Perhaps the most humble gesture of all, however, is his observance of the death of Jose Fernandez, who recently died in a boating accident on September 25th in Miami, Florida.

Before Fernandez’s death, the Tampa Bay Rays were set to honor David Ortiz before Sunday’s game. Instead, Ortiz asked the Rays to cancel the ceremony in honor of the Marlins’ ace. So a moment of silence in memory of the late pitcher’s death took its place. Standing alongside his teammates, tears ran down Ortiz’s face as he remembered his friend, Jose Fernandez.

As David Ortiz continues his journey into the sunset of his career, fans and foes alike will remember Big Papi’s grace, agility, and presence. Intimidating as he is kind, hulking as he is humble, David Ortiz will forever live in the memories of anyone who saw him play.

Red Sox Secure 2016 Playoff Spot

The Boston Red Sox recently clinched a playoff spot after two dismal seasons. Along with the Texas Rangers, and most likely the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Red Sox will soon begin their march towards the World Series. This means that all eyes will now focus on the playoffs. So if the Red Sox secure victories from Texas, Cleveland, and/or the Wild Card victor, they will advance to the World Series.

During the season many thought the Red Sox would finish in the cellar again. Injuries, bad pitching,red sox secure and runners left on base kept them out of contention. The calls to fire John Farrell grew louder as the summer progressed. Careless plays frustrated fans to no end. Some said that’s just baseball. They said you can’t win them all. That’s true, but to some their victories came from a lack of trying. That’s obviously no longer true, but the thought still lingers for some.

To see the Red Sox secure a playoff spot tempts fans to think about what was once unthinkable: winning the World Series. Before 2004, the dangerous thought more often than not disappointed fans. But with championships in 2004, 2007, and 2013, fans feel safer hoping again.

As Red Sox Secure a Playoff Spot, We Look to Our Other Contenders

The road to the World Series won’t be an easy one. While the Red Sox held their own against Cleveland this season, Indians pitchers Danny Salazar and Corey Kluber still concern the Sox lineup. The Indians also know how to bat around Clay Buchholz. Despite his recent improvements, Buchholz can’t take Cleveland for granted. As for Texas, the Red Sox beat them three out of six games this season. So the good news is that the Red Sox have done fairly well against their possible playoff contenders. The bad news, however, is that the Red Sox haven’t played them as much as they’ve played other teams like Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

In order to beat back the other AL teams, the Red Sox will have to closely study each pitcher and hitter they face. CLOSELY study each and every one. The Cleveland Indians are hungry for a World Series of their own given they haven’t won one since 1948. The Texas Rangers haven’t won even one World Series. That quest for titles of their own will make them worthy contenders.

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