John Farrell: An Early Report Card


With just over a quarter of the Red Sox season in the books it’s time to take a look at the progress of manager John Farrell, who was brought to Boston over the winter to initiate a change of direction and attitude for a franchise that experienced a bizarre season in 2012.

So far the returns are pretty good.  The team has improved significantly in a few areas of note.  If had to put a grade on it I’d say B+.  The only thing that brings it down from an A was Farrell leaving Ryan Dempster in a game too long just to get a win when he clearly didn’t have it.  That shouldn’t happen.

May 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) watches from the dugout during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers won 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

At 27-18 Farrell has certainly accomplished his first objective of getting the Sox off to a good start.  Last year they did not win their 27th game until June 1 after a 4-10 start.

The pitching staff has thrived under Farrell and his first lieutenant, new pitching coach Juan Nieves.  The pitchers seem to have bought in to the program Farrell and Nieves are teaching and it shows in the results.

Key rotation cogs Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz  have returned to the highly effective forms they had under Farrell when he was the pitching coach for Terry Francona from 2007-2010.

This is probably the most significant factor in Farrell having a successful return in that these two pitchers were expected to rebound under Farrell’s stewardship and lead this rotation and team to good things.  So far, that has happened and Farrell and Nieves deserve the credit for getting through to these two.

Behind the top two, the rest of the pitching staff has fallen into place, despite the team having several injuries out of the bullpen and the ineffectiveness of Daniel Bard to deal with.  Farrell has put his bullpen in the best position to succeed while working around the injuries.  Getting closer Andrew Bailey back will only help give him more flexibility.

The lineup construction has been pretty consistent.  When everyone is healthy, Farrell has been able to keep his starting nine in pretty much the same order.

When the Sox experienced a slump in early May, instead of panicking and shuffling people around, Farrell stayed consistent and the team responded.  He has also been good about getting his starters rest and using his bench effectively.

Apr 22, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) on the field as the players warm up before the start of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

But more than anything else Farrell deserves high praise because he has made the Red Sox clubhouse a professional environment.  From what they say the players again want to come to work there day after day.

The players seem to respect Farrell as a manager because they know where they stand with him and that he has their back.  As much as I didn’t like the Dempster incident, I understood why Farrell did it- to build that player-manager bond.

That kind of relationship is invaluable for a group of guys who spend so much time together in such a compact six month period.

Respect and trust are essential for a team to succeed and so far Farrell has done all the right things with his players and those players appreciate it after all the uncertainty and rumors that swirled during the Bobby Valentine regime last year.

So, I’d say Farrell has been as good as advertised by Red Sox management so far.  But what do you think?

Vote in the poll below and let me know and also check out my web show here for more on Farrell’s progress.