John Farrell was the Red Sox’s pitching coach from 2007-2010 and went to the Blue Jays as manager in 2011, when it looked like Francona would never leave the organization (how quickly things changed). While a pitching coach, Sox pitchers had a different type of swagger to them; they were in control. For example, in 2007 (when the Red Sox won the World Series), Sox pitchers had a collective 3.87 ERA and a 1.273 WHIP. In 2012, Sox pitchers had a collective 4.70 ERA and a 1.371 WHIP.
How does this speak to Farrell as a manager? Well, our starting pitching has been troublesome the past two seasons. We’ve had 3 pitching coaches since Farrell left (Curt Young, Bob McClure, and Randy Niemann). Farrell has proved that he has a unique way of dealing with the Red Sox pitchers that has not been duplicated since his departure. In terms of improvement of the pitching staff, Farrell will understand what is needed of his pitchers and how to deal with them- the team will essentially have two pitching coaches to look for ways to improve the staff.
Also, many of the key position players on the Sox were around when John Farrell was last on the Sox- Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz. Pedroia and Ortiz are the unofficial “captains” of this team (even if Ortiz isn’t technically on the Sox roster at the moment. It will happen). These three players are the keys to getting this team to play the way we all know and wish they can play. Farrell already has their respect from years past, and the relationship won’t need to be forced.
Farrell has also rumored to have reached out to Cody Ross, a player who was only signed through the 2012 season for $3 million. There’s been a lot of talk over the past month or two about Ross returning. If Farrell did in fact contact Cody Ross, after he was signed as manager, then that indicated Farrell would like to work with Ross, as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Cody Ross is a good player with a great attitude, kind of like how Kevin Millar was for the 2004 Red Sox. We may need a player like that this year, and Ross would be a good fit… again.
It’s also rumored that Farrell is going to be bringing Lovullo, who was Pawtucket’s manager in 2010, with him as his bench coach from the Jays. Lovullo will be familiar with some of the younger, less experienced players that have found their way onto this team. Lovullo was also rumored to be in line for a managerial position last year, so he can only more knowledge to this team that has lost its way over the past two seasons.
Another interesting tidbit about Farrell is someone who will probably not be on the coaching staff (or maybe he will), Jason Varitek. Varitek was hired as a special assistant to the general manager last month. Varitek has always been known as a great baseball-mind, and I’m sure he worked very closely with Farrell and the pitching staff in the past. Could the knowledge between Varitek and Farrell turn this team, and especially the pitching, around? My guess is Varitek with be a coach on Farrell’s staff at some point in the next three years.
John Farrell commands respect, you can tell by the way he handles himself. I didn’t watch very much of the press conference yesterday (I do work, afterall), but what little I did see, was a vast difference from what we saw less than a year ago when Bobby Valentine was announced as manager. Farrell and Cherington were at the podium together, not encased with Henry, Lucchino, and Werner. Farrell took a picture holding his jersey, not doing the whole “putting the jersey on like a player signing” thing. There was very much a partnership between Farrell and Cherington, something that was lacking this past season with Cherington and Valentine.
Only time will tell how John Farrell’s tenure will be with the Boston Red Sox. The team needs a lot of work to succeed into the postseason again, but the Sox may have finally found the man who can help get that done. To think, the man who many wanted to replace Francona if he was ever to leave the Red Sox is fulfilling that prophecy (with only one, rough speedbump to get over).