As speculation continues to build as to whether current manager Bobby Valentine will survive the remainder of this year, it’ is hard to fathom that he returns for the 2013 season. There has been a lot of chatter about former Sox pitching coach, John Farrell returning to Boston to manage this club, if and when Valentine is relieved of his duties. But is Farrell the answer to turn this reeling club around and take them back to the promised land?
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe pointed out this morning that Farrell’s current club, the Toronto Blue Jays own a record of 60-74 on the year and sit in last place in the AL East. He led the Jays to a record of 81-81 last season, his first full campaign as a major league manager. That’s a combined record of 141-155 and makes Abraham question if Farrell would do much better in Boston as Valentine’s successor.
The Jays, much like the Red Sox have been riddled with injuries this season. The team’s superstar and home run slugging stud, Jose Bautista, missed a significant amount of time due to injury and it was about that time when the Jays started to slide into the abysmal world of sub .500 baseball.
Their starting pitching has been awful, just like the Red Sox, who sit 25th and 26th in all of baseball when comparing the team’s ERA to the rest of baseball. Farrell’s strengths are said to be in the pitching department, but is it fair to write off the Jays starters and place blame on Farrell before considering the amount of injuries the rotation has endured. To date, the Jays have had nine different pitchers start at least six games. Only two have started more than twenty games, Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez with 28 and 26 starts respectively. For the record, the Red Sox have had eight pitchers who have started at least six games and four who have started at least twenty (Lester, Buchholz, Doubront and Beckett).
Last season Farrell guided his new club to an even .500 record and were said to be a potential sleeper this season as a team that could make some noise and push for a postseason birth. But as the Jays have done over the past several years, they started to fade when late August rolled around, leaving speculation and question marks as to what this club needs to do next to take them to the next level.
Toronto could be looking for a fresh start next season and relieving Farrell of his duties might be the scapegoat they need to do so. He has one-year left on his three year deal, making any move outside of a firing difficult for the Red Sox to try and lure him away from our northern friends. There has been suggestions that trading a prospect or two might be enough to make Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos think about parting ways with Farrell. Anthopoulos won’t comment on the Farrell rumors but one thing he hasn’t done is come out and state that Farrell will not be leaving Toronto as part of the club policy that sees an employee leave for a latter job transfer (which Farrell would be doing). In other words, he’s not helping the rumor mill.
The Jays don’t spend the money that the Red Sox or Yankees do, but that doesn’t mean a manager can’t get the best out of his players. Take a look at Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay or better yet, Bob Melvin in Oakland and the job they have done with a small budget. Farrell has not lived up to the billing and while injuries have handcuffed the team this year, a last place showing in the division is likely considered unacceptable.
But would bringing back John Farrell solve all the issues that this Red Sox club currently has? He does know the pitchers, at least most of them given his 2010 pitching coach title with the club. Interesting to note however that in Farrell’s last year with the Sox, the team’s ERA was 4.20 and ranked 22nd in the majors.
In 2009 the Sox pitchers combined for an ERA of 4.35 and sat 16th in all of baseball. For the 2008 season they were 9th in all of baseball with a 4.01. A trend is developing here and that’s as Farrell’s time in Boston grew, so too did the team’s ERA, accompanied by a slide down the ranks in the majors. For the record, the Jays ERA in 2011 was 4.32 and ranked 24th.
Maybe Farrell isn’t the answer that everyone wants him to be if Boston could acquire his services, this time as the manager. If he is said to be a manager who can relate to the pitchers and get the most out of them, the numbers we just analyzed don’t reflect that. We all know that the Sox need pitching help in the worst way imaginable. He also has a history with the Red Sox making him susceptible to knowing too much when it comes to past behaviors of the players and an opinion on the owners which could be good, bad or otherwise.
Perhaps a fresh start is in order for this club and if that includes steering away from past players and former coaches then so be it. Maybe a manager who has no former ties with Boston is what the Red Sox need. Of course they need to get rid of the one they currently have before they can proceed, but that day appears to be coming.
Remember in 2004 when a guy named Terry Francona got the job and no one gave him a chance to succeed? How did that work out for the team and it’s fans?