Red Sox manager John Farrell won’t return in 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 15: Manager John Farrell
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 15: Manager John Farrell /

The Boston Red Sox have announced that manager John Farrell will not return for the 2018 season following the team’s first-round playoff exit.

The Boston Red Sox are parting ways with John Farrell, releasing the manager of his duties with one year remaining on his contract.

Simply making the playoffs isn’t enough – not in this town. Farrell is getting the ax despite becoming the first manager in franchise history to lead a team to consecutive division titles.

Farrell’s tenure in Boston has been a roller coaster. His overall record over the last five seasons was 432-378. He won a World Series in his first season at the helm in 2013 and his team reached the playoffs as AL East division winners in each of the last two seasons. In between were consecutive last-place finishes. While the Red Sox made the playoffs in each of the last two seasons they have only one playoff win to show for it.

A significant portion of Red Sox Nation – or at least a very vocal portion – has been calling for Farrell’s dismissal for years. Some even went as far as to ignite a #FireFarrell campaign across social media. Local talk radio hosts skewered the manager on a regular basis for his head-scratching lineup decisions and frustrating bullpen management. He was never particularly popular in Boston for a manager with a track record most franchises would envy, as many believed that the Red Sox won in spite of him.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski refused to discuss the details of the decision to let Farrell go but he did indicate that the decision would have been made regardless of the team’s success this season.

So, we’re supposed to believe that the Red Sox would have fired Farrell even if they won the World Series? Perhaps they could have made a public display of his dismissal during the duck boat parade.

Dombrowski even shouldered some of the blame for the team’s shortcomings, suggesting that he miscalculated the run-scoring ability of the team he assembled. A lack of power in the lineup was a clear weakness that Dombrowski seems set on rectifying this winter. A manager can only do so much when he isn’t given a championship caliber roster, so firing Farrell wasn’t based on the disappointing result of the ALDS.

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Farrell has a reputation as a player’s manager, one who protects the guys in the clubhouse and always has their backs. While this may be appreciated by the players, it can also work to the detriment of the team at times if the manager isn’t standing up to his players behind closed doors.

The 2017 Red Sox suffered from a lack of leadership in the wake of David Ortiz‘ retirement. None of the young stars on the team seemed ready to fill that void. Dustin Pedroia claimed to be a leader but has always been more of a lead by example type. Only this year, he did a poor job of setting a good example. Pedroia threw his own team under the bus early in the season during the Manny Machado beanball incident by publically insisting that it wasn’t his idea to throw at the Baltimore Orioles star. He was also reportedly one of the players commending David Price for his shameful confrontation with Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley.

This is where a manager needs to step in and put a stop to this nonsense before it gets out of hand. Farrell should have done more to defuse the feud with the Orioles. He should have reprimanded Price and his supporters for their treatment of a broadcaster who was simply doing his job by calling it how he sees it. The manager failed to do that, leaving those of us on the outside with the impression that the inmates were running the asylum.

It’s unclear who will replace Farrell as manager of the Red Sox. This doesn’t appear to be a case where they have a candidate in mind they feel would be an upgrade, they simply would prefer to have someone who isn’t Farrell in the dugout.

Dombrowski did indicate that he’s not considering any internal candidates, which would seem to rule out popular fan favorites such as Jason Varitek or bench coach Gary DiSarcina.

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Even those who believe Farrell did a fine job during his time in Boston must admit that this team was in need of a new voice in the clubhouse. While players may have publically showed their support for the manager, we don’t know if they shared the same sentiment with Dombrowski in private. Their actions suggest that the respect Farrell once held in the clubhouse was fading and when that happens a change becomes inevitable.