Is John Farrell A Good Manager?

John Farrell’s Complicated History

Red Sox manager John Farrell has had fluctuating performances during his Boston tenure. After being the team’s pitching coach from 2006-2010, Farrell managed the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012. When the Bobby Valentine experiement failed, he returned to Boston.John Farrell

His first year saw a World Series victory over the Cardinals in 2013. But that was followed by a pair of last place finishes, which prompted some to question his ability to manage. Then, unfortunately, Farrell was diagnosed with lymphoma in late 2015. Following the diagnosis, bench coach Torey Lovullo led the team to a succesful season’s end. Ultimately, this led to Farrell being put on the hotseat even more, despite his current condition.

After the acquisition of David Price in the offseason, and the emergence of Rick Porcello as an ace, the Red Sox won the division in 2016 primariliy because of consistent pitching. This helped John Farrell’s case for continuing as manager, as he already had signed an extension in 2016.

But is John Farrell a good manager?

Many will cite his occasional gaff in a National League game or his usage of Craig Kimbrel in non-save situations. But I would counter with his ability to keep the teem afloat this season amidst the injuries, rainouts, flu epidemic, and berevement/paternity leaves.

Sure, it’s a small sample size, but it’s still impressive. On this homestand alone, the Red Sox played the defending World Series champions, as well as the two teams ahead of them in the AL East standings.

Personally, I like John Farrell as manager.

Does the post-game corporate-speak sometimes bother me? Sure.

But do I appreciate his sense of accountability when the team his underperforming? Absolutely.

However, I like him mainly because the players respect him. He doesn’t let sour grapes infect the clubhouse. You know what you’re going to get. Plain and simple. He lets guys like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts learn and grow up. He lets guys like Chili Davis and Brian Butterfield have some autonomy.

Even if the Red Sox wanted to replace him, could they find a viable candidate? Torey Lovullo, who I also liked, is now in Arizona. The Red Sox would need to either find someone in the organization they saw as qualified or look elsewhere. My outlook is, if there’s a former manager available, there’s probably a good reason why.

Cue Bobby Valentine.

Padres Demote Will Middlebrooks to Triple-A

The career of Will Middlebrooks has taken another sour turn with the Padres demoting the third baseman to Triple-A on Wednesday as he continues to struggle at the plate.

When the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval last winter, Middlebrooks spot on the roster was immediately in question. Will MiddlebrooksMiddlebrooks was traded to the Padres for Ryan Hanigan just before Christmas, in one of the smaller moves the Padres made this past winter after adding Justin Upton, Wil Myers and James Shields. Middlebrooks was the Padres Opening Day third baseman.

After making his debut with the Red Sox in 2012 the Bobby V year, Middlebrooks has not been able to make a real consistent stay in the major leagues. He claimed the third base job from Kevin Youkilis that year and was on track to be the third baseman of the Red Sox for years to come. He got hit by a pitch on his wrist late that season which cost him the rest of the season. In 2013 he was up and down with the Red Sox and even started games in the playoffs until Xander Bogaerts took over at third base, while Stephen Drew was still on the team.

In 2014 Middlebrooks was demoted to Pawtucket once the Sox signed Drew for a second time and rejoined the team after the fire sale that saw the Red Sox trade Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew. Last season with the Red Sox Middlebrooks hit a Mike Napoliesque .191 with only 2 home runs and 19 RBI. Sox brass wanted Middlebrooks to play winter ball but he declined.

With another slow start this season hitting .212 with the Padres he was demoted to El Paso after already losing his third base job to Yangervis Solarte. Middlebrooks had so much potential with the Red Sox. He had 15 home runs in his first 287 at bats in the big leagues and even hit for a decent average hitting .288. Many question the moves of Ben Cherington this past off-season but it seems the Red Sox got the better end of this deal.

Ryan Hanigan may not have been a flashy name but he is a major league catcher and the Red Sox would have forced Blake Swihart’s development even further after the injury to Christian Vasquez, something they may have done with Middlebrooks.

2013 Was an Exception for the Red Sox

For Boston and the rest of Red Sox Nation, 2013 was a season none of us will forget. Amid the tragic events of April 15th of that year, the Red Sox and their beards captured our imaginations and united a city en route to a championship over the St. Louis Cardinals. A fluke? No. They were definitely deserving of the championship that year. But it was the exception to the rule, unfortunately. If you subtract the World Series year, the Red Sox are 103-149 since September 1st, 2011 according to MassLive.

In a big market like Boston, you expect more. Dating back to the Terry Francona/TheoRed Sox Epstein years, the Red Sox were challenging for the division most years, if not winning it. Even though they missed the playoffs a couple of years, they were still relevant, and a few poorly timed injuries kept them from being a perennial post-season team. At least until the September 2011 collapse. That changed everything for the Sox.

2012 was a complete disaster under Bobby Valentine, which was marked by him calling out his players publicly, notably Kevin Youkilis. Cue John Farrell, who managed the team to their 3rd World Series crown in the new millenium in his first season back with the club. However, the Red Sox struggled in 2014, dropping back to last place in the division. This year? A continuation of 2014’s struggles, which reached its peak last Friday night, when the Red Sox blew an 8-1 lead en route to a 13-10 loss. I wasn’t the only one banging my head against the wall on Friday. But that game encapsulated their season for me – they give you a flicker of hope, then they take it away.

Unless they do something fast, we can expect a 3rd last place finish in 4 years, which isn’t what most Red Sox fans want to see, nor is it what we expect from a team with a payroll at approximately $181 million. Normally, I try to take the optimistic approach, but Friday night’s loss zapped me of any hope I had that they may turn things around.

2014 Red Sox Could Still Finish Better Than 2012

2014 red soxThe 2014 Red Sox might be 58-75 through 133 contests this season, and a playoff spot is way out of the picture with about a month to go in the regular season, but the team has a real chance to perform better than it did back in the Bobby Valentine era.

Through 133 games back in 2012, the Red Sox were 62-71 and were only a mere 14 games out of the AL East while also trailing the Wild Card by 12 games. In 2014, the Red Sox are 18 games out of the division and 14.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. There was no second Wild Card in 2012, which means the Red Sox would have a 20.5 game deficit if those rules were still in effect.

Through the final 29 games, the Red Sox went 8-21 and lost 12 of their final 13 games to have their first losing season since 1997. The team went 78-84 that year.

The Red Sox played 22 of those contests against AL East opponents in a year that the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays all had a shot at making the postseason.

This year, the 2014 Red Sox have 22 games against the division remaining, but have a chance to play spoiler, especially to the Yankees who play the Red Sox six more times this season. The team currently needs just a 12-17 record the rest of the way to be a squad that is still better than the worst team in the new millennium for the Red Sox. However,  if the team plays over .500, then it might have a shot at closer to 75 wins in a lost season.

There is always next year. Right?

Bobby Valentine Believes He Can Manage, Farrell Gets Job Done

Bobby Valentine John Farrell

Courtesy of boston.cbslocal.com

Tuesday, one day before the Boston Red Sox take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series, I read that Bobby Valentine reportedly told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he could have reached the Fall Classic with the current roster of players. Then, I laughed so hard my head exploded.

Who does this guy think he is? Could someone truly be this delusional? Valentine refused to work with players, very important players (most notably David Ortiz). The Sox’s win record, under his tenure as manager, had not been that low since the 1960s. He brought no strategic expertise about creating a lineup to the Red Sox organization. Valentine never really prepared for baseball games. The 2012 Red Sox had no strategy, and thus no wins. Still, with his proven lack of skill, he believes that he could have helped the Sox go to the World Series. Some people just never change.

Bobby Valentine John Farrell

John Farrell made all the difference this year leading this team to a World Series berth. Rarely do you see a manager turn a team’s performance around in such quick fashion.  The rebuilding year that the fans were expecting never happened. The Sox and Farrell did not meet fans’ low expectations; they exceeded them. The impossible became reality through Farrell’s ability to manipulate a lineup before and during the game. Also his knowledge of pitching, and the capability of the bullpen we have on hand are, simply put, priceless.

At the beginning of the season, if you ever told me that players like Mike Napoli, Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, among others would all make news during any given day, I would have thought that you were crazy. Farrell provided opportunities for each and every player to shine on the field and at the plate. He leveraged player’s natural talents based on the play situations and the teams they were about to face. Sometimes Farrell’s decision-making left fans scratching their heads. What is this manager doing? Then, much to our surprise, our hands would leave our heads for applause, animated cheers, and high-fives.

The manager is there to facilitate wins, not bask in the spotlight. Farrell proved that the focus should be on the team, not the manager.

Bobby V, I hope you watch the World Series because you may just learn something about leadership and, oh yes, winning.