In light of Boston’s recent struggles, many have suggested that it’s time for John Farrell to go. He’s the first manager in more than 20 years to guide the Sox to back-to-back losing seasons, and they’ve faded after a fast start this year. Fans and media are understandably frustrated with the team’s recent performance, but firing John Farrell is not the answer.
Dismissing Farrell would be an overreaction to one bad month; the Red Sox were great under him in April and May. They stunk in June, but that was because their lineup cooled off and their pitching staff was exposed. Farrell doesn’t have a dependable fourth or fifth starter right now; his bullpen options are limited. Dave Dombrowski needs to get him some help, not kick him to the curb.
Making Farrell the scapegoat for one bad month of baseball isn’t just unfair—it’s wrong. It’s not his fault that the rotation is in shambles, or that a bunch of key players got hurt around the same time. Boston’s crazy offense was bound to cool off sooner or later.
The Red Sox have a lot of problems, but Farrell is the least of them. He’s not a great manager, but he’s not terrible, either. He has the respect of his players and handles the media well. Often times managers are fired to send a message, but what kind of a message would that send to Boston? They’re only a few games out of first and could easily regain control of the AL East if their hitters get hot again.
Firing Farrell isn’t going to magically fix the rotation or bolster the bullpen. It won’t make Pablo Sandoval any skinnier or Koji Uehara any younger. It’s not Farrell’s fault that David Price is struggling or that Clay Buchholz has turned into a pumpkin. The best manager in the world couldn’t help Joe Kelly find the plate or Christian Vazquez hit major league pitching.
The Red Sox are flawed, and firing John Farrell isn’t going to change that. At least give him until the end of the season. If the Sox go nowhere, then fine, fire him. But right now, there’s no need.
It’s early in the season, but the Red Sox are already showing signs that this season won’t be much different than the last two. Clay Buchholtz continues to struggle on the mound, the team fails to drive in crucial runs, and for the first time since I started attending Sox games in 2014, I’ve seen a visible drop in attendance. You could attribute it to the cold weather (45 degree temperatures make it hard to enjoy a game, especially at night), but it doesn’t help that the Sox are off to a challenging start. This idea leads me to ask whether the Red Sox should drop Farrell now and replace him with Torey Lovullo, who did much better managing the team last season. Personally, I think it’s time to drop Farrell.
Tory Lovullo took over as manager last season when Farrell was diagnosed with stage 1
lymphoma. The team went from performing sluggishly to scoring 37 runs in the first two games. Lovullo even had a .636 winning percentage through the end of September. This positive turn of events overshadowed the .439 winning percentage Farrell had before leaving for medical treatment. Farrell eventually returned to the team, taking the reigns back from Lovullo, who the Red Sox signed to a two-year contract to stay with the team as bench coach. Many saw this as an insurance move in the event that Farrell, God forbid, gets sick again.
Is it Time to Drop Farrell?
There’s another reason to drop Farrell from the Red Sox. Last June, after he was pulled from the game, Wade Miley got into a heated argument in the dugout with Farrell. Some saw this as Farrell’s inability to manage his team and retain their respect. Of course, players get angry and want to vent from time to time, but the fact that Miley blew up at Farrell is a sign that he’s not commanding the respect that managers deserve. While Miley is partly to blame for that incident, a stronger manager would have never tolerated that in the first place. On a larger level, it is a sign that tensions were, and probably still are, high in the clubhouse. If that’s the case, it needs to be defused by a change in management.
Maybe it’s still too early to tell, but at what point do you decide that it’s time for a change?