John Farrell was introduced in a press conference today as the new Boston Red Sox manager--the 46th in team history, and third in three years.
While plenty of time was dedicated to the Blue Jays and the negotiations that led to Farrell's departure--an event that has apparently stirred up a good deal more acrimony than one might have expected given Toronto fans' blasé attitude about the situation in recent weeks--the conversation of course focused on Farrells' new team and the task at hand: bringing this 13-month disaster to an end.
Sounding genuinely pleased to be back to Boston and in his "dream job," Farrell did not back down from the challenge of turning around a Red Sox team that found itself playing the unfamiliar role of cellar dweller in 2012. Putting a positive spin on things, Farrell pointed out that it was only because the Sox were in such a challenging situation that he was able to rejoin the team in the first place, and added that there was nowhere he would rather face such a challenge.
Still, Farrell acknowledged that whatever the performance of the manager, success ultimately comes down to the players on the field. For many Red Sox fans, the hope has been that Farrell will be able to provide some help in that department as well thanks to his past experience as the Boston pitching coach. Farrell did nothing to dispel that belief, suggesting that he had already diagnosed some issues with Jon Lester from across the diamond, and that Daniel Bard might well be his next project.
Perhaps the most substantive thing Farrell said, however, was that he was looking to bring an up-tempo, aggressive style to the Red Sox. We saw this at its best and worst when facing Toronto this year, with guys like Rajai Davis giving the team fits on the basepaths even while Brett Lawrie made a habit of running into baffling outs. Meanwhile at the plate, his Jays came in fringe-average at drawing walks, though it's hard to really separate team philosophy from quality of player there. Hopefully Farrell will use his time in Toronto to identify the problems with his strategy, and tailor it to Boston's roster (however it should shake out).
Now that this is done, the Red Sox have a full offseason ahead of them--four months to get the players Farrell will need if he is to have a chance at moving forward from 2011 and 2012. There's a lot of work to be done, but at least this time the foundation has been laid in time.