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.

Does Drew Pomeranz Have Anything Left In The Tank?

Drew Pomeranz had another short rough night Sunday. Pomeranz threw 64 pitches in just 3 2/3 innings in a 5-4 Red Sox comeback win. In his outing, he gave up seven hits and four runs, including another homer by Gary Sanchez for a fortunate no-decision. Sunday marked the second consecutive outing in which Pomeranz failed to go four innings.

Going into this year, Pomeranz’s career high for innings pitched was just 96.2. His 2016 Pomeranzinnings pitched total is already up to 164.1. Granted most of his career has been in the bullpen. Add to that the fact that he was injured when the Red Sox traded for him and John Farrell may have himself a problem. Spare Dave Dombrowski though; he didn’t know A.J. Preller was the biggest scumbag in the baseball business. Preller, the Padres GM, was suspended for 30 days for withholding injury information from the Red Sox.

Considering Pomeranz’s last two starts, it is likely that he is experiencing extreme fatigue. Even from a guy who doesn’t throw hard, Pomeranz still does not have much experience starting; let alone in a stressful pennant race. During the month of September, Pomeranz has really struggled with the command of his off-speed pitches. The lack of command has led to short outings with a low-pitch count, highlighted by home runs hit off his mediocre fastball.

Pomeranz’s Role Going Forward

Obviously, Pomeranz is a big part of this starting rotation. If he is beginning to wilt, what can the Red Sox do with him? In a postseason set-up, I don’t think Pomeranz will be a starter. He should be a long guy out of the bullpen, much like Jon Lester was in 2007 and Felix Doubront in 2013. That could limit Pomeranz’s innings and they could use his off-speed stuff against lefties in high leverage situations. Most beneficially, it will keep Fernando Abad off the mound in the postseason.

Against all odds, this may not be a risky move by the Red Sox. I say that because a month ago I couldn’t believe that Clay Buchholz would be a formidable fourth starter in the playoffs. With Buchholz’s last month, excusing that one start in Toronto last weekend, he has been a pleasant surprise. Also, Stephen Wright’s shoulder injury all but ends his season so don’t expect to see him in any capacity come October.

This brings up a frustrating situation for the Red Sox considering what they gave up. Boston shipped out one of the best prospects, Anderson Espinoza, to San Diego to correct the issues with the starting rotation. Pomeranz has been a disappointment and now he really can’t get any better without rest. The real problem with the Red Sox will be finishing off the regular season with a division title if Pomeranz is this ineffective.

Red Sox Not Likely To Sign Tim Tebow

I’m not a big football fan. The Penn State sex abuse scandals and the neurological issue highlighted by the film Concussion turned me off to the game. But I find it interesting when an athlete jumps from one sport to another. So I found it intriguing when I heard the rumor that the Red Sox might sign Tim Tebow.

It’s rare to see athletes jump from one sport to another, but it’s not rare. The mostsign Tim Tebow famous two-sport athlete, Bo Jackson, showed the world that he was more than proficient in both baseball and football. During his career, Jackson was an All-Star, All-Star MVP, 1993 AL Comeback Player of the Year, and had four 20+ home run seasons. In his rookie football season, on 81 carries, Jackson rushed for a total of 554 yards, averaging 6.8 yards per carry (I assume that’s good). Other athletes who played two sports include Deion Sanders. Sanders played baseball for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees, while also playing football. Then there’s Michael Jordan, who in 1994 retired from basketball to play baseball.  He hit a paltry .202 playing Double-A ball in the Southern League.

Now we have Tim Tebow.

I remember years ago when people gave him a hard time for Tebowing. I thought it was stupid that people got so worked up about it. Many football fans shrugged off the Penn State abuse scandal. Those same fans didn’t seem to care about players who beat their wives either. But a lot of them flipped when Tebow spoke out about his religious views. So what? Personally, I thought it was cool. He believes in something important to him and wasn’t afraid to show it. But it’s going to take more than his faith in God to get to the Major Leagues.

Would A Team Sign Tim Tebow To Boost Tickets Sales?

Tebow might be an amazing athlete, but it takes a lot more than muscle and speed to play the game of baseball. Tebow last played competitive baseball at Nease High in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida in 2005. High school baseball eleven years ago? Yes, that’s the extent of his experience. And while he can run the dash faster than the average baseball player at 6.8 seconds, there’s hitting, throwing, and quick-decision making that will truly test Tebow if he’s signed to a contract.

Are the Red Sox one of the teams seriously pursuing Tebow? Not really. In a NESN interview, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski stated, “We did our due diligence. I don’t want to say anything negative because other teams are looking at [Tebow], but I don’t think we’ll be rushing out to make a signing.”

Not exactly a sign of confidence.

Not only would Tebow have to get in line behind the hundreds of other minor leaguers trying to make it to the show, but he doesn’t have much to add defensively. Professional baseball is stocked plenty with outfielders, especially the Red Sox, and that’s the only position Tebow can really play. Additionally, Tebow will face a lot of resentment from those in baseball who know he used his status as a football hero to bypass the system.

It’s a good thing that Dombrowski doesn’t want to sign Tim Tebow right away. He might help ticket sales, but I doubt the Red Sox are lacking in that department anyway. If anything, he’d be a distraction, and that’s the last thing the Red Sox need right now.

Is Benintendi Proving To Be The Real Deal?

I was concerned when the Red Sox called up Andrew Benintendi from the minors. The kid hadn’t even played in AAA Pawtucket yet. Regardless, Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell were eager to put him in the lineup. I thought Benintendi would have a hard time hitting against major league pitchers. I also thought about his lack of strength. He’s not nearly as big as his teammates. However, after almost two dozen games, while it’s great to see Benintendi proving himself, we have yet to see if he’s a fluke or the real thing. Will Benintendi maintain his consistency?

As of August 23rd, Benintendi is carrying a .306 batting average. That’s not too bad inBenintendi Proving 62 at-bats. It’s certainly better than what Jackie Bradley Jr. had his first year in Boston. In 2013, Bradley Jr. hit only .189 in 95 at-bats. Xander Bogaerts didn’t fare much better during the same time. So to see Benintendi proving himself by posting respectable numbers in that many at-bats is a sign that he could be the real deal.

One thing that people don’t discuss about Benintendi is his fielding. Before he was called up, Benintendi made zero errors in 143 chances in Double-A Portland. Before Portland, he made only one error in Single-A Salem. The same goes for the season before. In 2015 he made only one error in 131 chances at Single-A. That mades for  a.994 fielding percentage over two seasons in the minors. Not too shabby.

 It’s Great To See Benintendi Proving Himself At Defense, Too!

On August 22nd in a game against Tampa, Benintendi robbed Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza Jr. of a two-run home run in the eighth inning. Benintendi defied both gravity and the left field wall to keep the Rays from scoring another two runs. Earlier in the game, Benintendi drove in a run in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly. At this point, it is safe to say that Benintendi has delivered on the expectations Dombrowski and Farrell set for the rookie when he arrived in Boston. Now Benintendi has to prove that he’s the real deal by continuing to adjust his skills to maintain his success at the plate. We have yet to see if he can do so. But one thing is for sure. He’s off to a great start!

Dave Dombrowski Has Done All He Can

What more can Dave Dombrowski do to help the Red Sox win in 2016? Not a whole lot. From surprising trades to aggressive promotions, the President of Baseball Operations has worked tirelessly to spark a renaissance of Boston baseball. Now, the trade deadline has passed and the dog days of summer are upon us. It’s time for John Farrell to pilot the plane Dombrowski has built. It’s time to win.

The Dave Dombrowski Project

The overhaul began last winter. Craig Kimbrel arrived in a blockbuster trade. David Price signed a humongous contract. Pablo Sandoval was relegated from the long term plan. In stunning style, the Red Sox transitioned from planning for a brighter tomorrow to fighting for a happier today. Dombrowski executed a shift in philosophy, and a new blueprint was implemented.

Dave Dombrowski

Through spring training, the Red Sox continued to do things differently. Dave continued to press as many buttons as he could reach, hoping to avoid another fruitless October. Travis Shaw became the everyday third baseman. Hanley Ramirez moved to first. A sense of urgency was injected into the Red Sox’ play. They knew the time for excuses had passed.

Time to Deliver

Yet, as the season has wore on, this team has been quite a conundrum. On the one hand, loitering in a three-team race for the division crown is deeply satisfying. It’s all many fans hoped for after three last-place finishes in five years. Yet, deep down, there’s also a nagging sense of underachievement. Red Sox fans see how good this team is on paper, and they think it should be doing better on the field.

Dave Dombrowski likely agrees. At the trade deadline, he made a flurry of moves to affirm that suspicion. Drew Pomeranz arrived to bolster a maligned rotation. Brad Ziegler came over from Arizona to solidify a streaky bullpen. Fernando Abad joined him a few weeks later, adding another veteran hurler to the staff. The Red Sox still haven’t performed to evolving expectations. They still haven’t surged ahead in a tense AL East.

As the calendar flipped to August, Dave Dombrowski played one final card. Andrew Benintendi was promoted to the Majors, skipping a whole level of minor league play to provide a Fenway spark. With that move, the front office went all in. More importantly, it sent a clear message to John Farrell and his coaching staff: we’ve done all we can, and you must now eke maximum value from this roster.

A Critical Stretch Run

The Red Sox are currently 61-50, good for third place. Toronto and Baltimore are tied for the division lead, just one and a half games ahead. Yet by first-order winning percentage –  which attempts to calculate how many wins a team should have based on its run differential – the Red Sox should be almost three wins better off than they currently are. That suggests Dave Dombrowski has done a really good job. It also suggests John Farrell is hurting this team more than he’s helping it.

I don’t want to criticize the guy overtly, because he doesn’t deserve that. A lot of the vitriol spewed about him is unwarranted. But if John Farrell cannot get this team performing to the back of its baseball card, trouble awaits. Dave Dombrowski has used every trick in the book. He’s made all the phone calls, traded a lot of chips and constructed one of the best rosters in a flawed American League. If the results don’t match the projections come October, somebody will be fired. And that somebody is likely John Farrell, who needs to get a better tune from his highly equipped orchestra.

Red Sox Promote Andrew Benintendi

Overnight, the Red Sox promoted prized prospect Andrew Benintendi to the Major Leagues, adding to the trade deadline intrigue. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald broke the news, and Michael Martinez was designated for assignment to make way for Benintendi. The outfielder will join the team in Seattle on Tuesday.

Who is Andrew Benintendi?

Andrew Benintendi

Benintendi was a first round pick in the 2015 draft, and his rise has been meteoric. He reached Single-A in his first professional season, and has dominated this year, too. A .312/.378/.532 slash line at High-A Salem earned Benintendi a promotion to Double-A Portland. In 63 games with the Sea Dogs, he slashed .295/.357/.515 with 8 home runs and 44 RBI. That piqued the attention of Dave Dombrowski, who will slot the 22-year old in left field amid a heated pennant race.

Andrew Benintendi is the Red Sox’ number two prospect, behind Yoan Moncada. A lefty hitter, he is above average in every facet of the game, with obvious upside offensively. His promotion should provide a jolt of energy to the Red Sox, with Brock Holt likely sliding back into a utility role.

The Risk of Skipping Triple-A

Even though Benintendi is very highly rated, this is a risky move. The guy has still only played 151 professional baseball games. None of them were above Double-A. By all account, his makeup and ability should enable a smooth transition, but skipping an entire level of minor league development is rarely advisable. Whether people like it or not, Andrew Benintendi will still have plenty to learn. The Red Sox just figure that process should happen at the Major League level.

Benintendi is likely to be in uniform tonight against the Mariners. His debut will come Wednesday, as the youngster is given time to settle. Andrew is likely to see plenty of playing time against right-handed pitching, with further opportunities arising based on his performance. He will join other young stars like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts to create a great core for the Red Sox.

“Our people kept coming up and saying, ‘We think he can play at the big league level,'” said Dombrowski. “Don’t look for him to hit in the middle of the lineup like he will eventually, but he’s a well-rounded player, he’s a good defensive player, and he runs the bases well. He has a good arm, we’ve been working him out at left field and he’s been able to play the wall well in Portland there.”

It will be fun to see how this plays out. Every young player is likely to struggle at some point, especially after jumping two whole levels in a system. But the future face of your Boston Red Sox has arrived. Andrew Benintendi has reached the Majors. It’s time to get excited.