Green Monster-big news this week with former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell named the Red Sox' new manager.
Trading for a manager in Major League baseball is rarer than that blue moon people always mention. In MLB history, a transaction to acquire another team's manager has only occurred seven times.
Farrell was among the final candidates before last season when the team hired Bobby Valentine. Second time is a charm. In his two seasons managing the Blue Jays, Farrell posted a 154-170 record, and I know what some of you glass-half-empty people are thinking, "why the heck did they hire him?"
Let me pose this question to you Red Sox nation: Why did the Red Sox hire Terry Francona?
Francona went 77-85 in his first season as manager with Philadelphia, and never breached the .500 mark in his three years with the Phillies. Francona's and Farrell's early managing career records may paint below-mediocre coaches, but you have to factor the team payroll into the equation.
Let's look at the total team salary of the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays compared to that of the Red Sox pre-blockbuster liquidation. The Blue Jays ranked 22nd in the league with a team payroll of just over $72 million in 2012. Boston is among the fat cats in the MLB with double that number, totaling over $146 million.
Will Farrell be an instant success in Boston? Not a chance. I think Farrell was the best option available for the Red Sox after they saw the players rebel against
But, as soon as you show that you are the alpha dog, they stop, and respect follows. Valentine never really got the chance to show his authority as general manager Ben Cherington and the rest of the Red Sox front office appeared to be pulling all the strings. A blockbuster trade in July got rid of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto and really helped to hammer home the message that Boston was sending Valentine packing, too. If you cannot win with our farm system, you won't last in Boston.
At the end of the season after losing 93 games, he was gone. I think Valentine was put in a position to lose, quite frankly. I would not have minded seeing Valentine as manager for at least another season. Baseball is a tricky business, you cannot expect someone to come into a clubhouse laden with bad chemistry, and expect him to be successful right away.
Do I think that Farrell is a good move for the Red Sox? Long-term, I absolutely do. I think Farrell, being a former major league pitcher, can really relate to some of the issues and pressures his players find themselves up against. Beer and chicken in the clubhouse won't be an issue with Farrell; he is the type of manager who isn't afraid to make himself heard.
I remember the long walk he used to make to the pitchers' mound to motivate his players. While the microphones never actually pick up what is coming out of the coaches' mouths when they head out to the mound, you can always pick up on the facial expressions. I like Farrell's style. He is the type of manager who won't take any flak from his players; he is exactly the type of coach the players need. As soon as the news surfaced that Farrell was coming back to Boston, I went ballistic, in a good way of course. When I saw that Francona signed a contract with the Cleveland Indians, I quickly realized the Red Sox wasn't going to try and rekindle the fire that Tito left burning in Boston.
But, the Red Sox did the next best thing with hiring Farrell. Farrell and Francona have similar management styles. They are not afraid to have a chat with umpires if they think their player is not getting a fair shake, but they don't ever cross the line like, say, Miami Marlins' manager Ozzie Guillen.
I expect pitching to get better in the coming seasons with Farrell back in the dugout. For obvious reasons, the veteran staffers are used to Farrell's approach and he is widely respected. When you have respect from your players, managing them is just second nature.
I look to John Lester, Daniel Bard and Clay Buchholz to live up to the hype under Farrell. The best teams in baseball have strong arms in the bullpen and rotation, the Red Sox have them, and they underperformed last year. With a new manager, familiar face, and some solid young prospects in the system, I expect this coming year's team to win 80-to-85 games.
I expect another big trade or two to come up in the off-season. Francona was able to win a World Series in 2004 with the Red Sox in his first year as manager. I really hope the Red Sox make a fool out of me and my prediction, but I am being a realist.
Farrell was with Boston from 2007-2010; his pitching staff had a 4.11 ERA in 2007, best in the American-League. Boston interviewed other worthy candidates but I firmly believe that they did the correct thing bringing back a fan favorite. Younger Red Sox fans like myself have been spoiled, two World Series in 2004 and 2007. For a long time that was unfathomable.
I remember where I was when the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. It was my freshman homecoming at Clinton High School. We had the dance in the town hall, big screens were airing the game in the lobby. Let's just say my date wasn't too happy I ditched her for the game, but I think it was the right choice.
Will success rain down upon Red Sox nation again? I say yes, it's just a matter of time. I believe Farrell is the man for the job. If he enjoys first-year success, more power to him.
Red Sox nation started to lose faith in the owners and the team. Attendance numbers never "dropped," but televised games showed many empty chairbacks.
By bringing back Farrell, it's almost like 2012 never happened. Almost.
Farrell has tasted World Series success once before. What's to say he doesn't do it again?