Boston Red Sox: John Farrell will return as manager next season

Aug 9, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) in the dugout before the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) in the dugout before the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox intend to bring manager John Farrell back in 2017, despite critics calling for his dismissal following an early postseason exit.

Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wasted little time in revealing the fate of manager John Farrell.

Fans have been critical all year of the manager’s decisions, with #FireFarrell turning into a trending topic on social media even while the Red Sox were locking up the AL East division title.

Consecutive last-place finishes were apparently enough to wash away any support the manager earned by winning a World Series in his first season at the helm in 2013, while this season’s success was credited to the upgrades that Dombrowski made to the roster and breakout years from their stable of young stars. A roster with this much talent is expected to win, so the Red Sox return to the postseason was deemed to be in spite of their manager.

Those that share this viewpoint will be disappointed to learn that Farrell will indeed be back with the team next season.

"“John Farrell will be our manager in 2017,” Dombrowski confirmed in a press conference on Tuesday, per WEEI’s John Tomase. “He is all set and his whole staff will be invited back… He has the respect of the clubhouse. We played well.”"

Farrell is under contract through next season with a team option for 2018. It remains to be seen if that option will be picked up, or if Farrell will even make it through another full season. All we have been assured is that when next season opens in April, it will be Farrell leading the way.

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The Red Sox are expecting the rest of the coaching staff to return with him, including Carl Willis (pitching), Chili Davis (hitting), Brian Butterfield (third base), Ruben Amaro (first base), Brian Bannister (assistant pitching) and Victor Rodriguez (assistant hitting).

Bench coach Torey Lovullo has also been invited back, but will be allowed to interview for open managerial positions. The Red Sox rewarded him with a lucrative contract extension after he impressed in a brief stint taking over for Farrell while he was on medical leave to end the 2015 season. The intent was to keep Lovullo in the organization as a backup plan in case the team faltered again under Farrell’s watch, but now that they are prepared to commit to Farrell for another season they may find it easier to let Lovullo go if a better opportunity for him arises.

The most vocal critics have blasted Farrell for his in-game decision making. His bullpen management has been questionable and he’s made some head-scratching lineup decisions. Plus, who could forget the bonehead mistake he made using Steven Wright as a pinch-runner, resulting in a season-ending shoulder injury for the All-Star pitcher? There are a number of moments that we can point to as a reason to blame Farrell for a loss, yet it hasn’t cost him his job. At least not yet.

While Farrell certainly has his flaws, there are other traits that the organization finds valuable.

"“To me, the most important thing for a manager is that their club plays up to their capabilities day-in, day-out, which means they’re communicating with their players and getting everything they can,” Dombrowski told reporters. “That means their club is playing hard. In-game strategy, of course, is very important. But having been through this so much, and I’ve asked this question in the past here and I hope I’m not being too redundant, I think that’s what makes our game so interesting. A lot of people think they know more than the manager when it comes to strategy.”"

Managers aren’t perfect. During every game they are forced to make important spur of the moment decisions and sometimes those decisions don’t work out. Even if the manager had valid reasons for making a certain call, there is still the potential for it to backfire. Whenever Farrell made a mistake, his harshest critics were quick to call him out on it, insinuating that they know more about baseball than the manager. Maybe some do, but I can guarantee that the vast majority don’t. It’s easy to criticize a decision that failed in retrospect, yet Farrell doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the things he does well.

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Perhaps his best trait is that Farrell commands respect from this ball club. His players like playing for him and they will play hard for him. Believe me, if a number of Red Sox players were fed up with Farrell and wanted him out, he’d be gone by now. We saw it happen when the team led a mutiny against Farrell’s predecessor, Bobby Valentine.

The best manager this franchise has had in recent memory is Terry Francona, who now resides over the dugout of a Cleveland team that just bounced Boston from the postseason. Tito did a phenomenal job for years, but the late season collapse in September 2011 convinced ownership that this team had stagnated under his watch. Sometimes players need to hear a new voice to revitalize them, which is what led to the Red Sox canning Francona. The disgraceful way the organization treated him on the way out the door is another story, but the decision to replace him as manager had merit, regardless of the fact that Francona remains an excellent manager.

Farrell isn’t on the same level that Francona is as a manager, but he hasn’t lost his players. They still listen to his voice and respect his authority. That’s why his days in Boston aren’t done yet.

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Nobody is claiming that Farrell is one of the best managers in the game, but he’s hardly among the worst. The Red Sox could cut bait with him in favor of someone else viewed as a better in-game manager, but if the switch upsets the players in the clubhouse or the new skipper fails to connect with the team then the results could be drastically worse.