After enduring a 1-7 slump, Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price was in no mood to deal with questions from the media. It was questions over the absence of Devin Mesoraco that broke the camel's back, but clearly this has been building for a while:
All this has me thinking about John Farrell who, for the record, has gone on zero profanity-laced tirades to the media despite playing in a market featuring the likes of Dan Shaughnessy and Tony Massarotti. For that alone he probably deserves to be sainted. It got me thinking about Farrell and, more specifically, the seemingly endless series of small, questionable decisions that earn him abuse on the regular.
While Farrell's reputation does not approach the depths of Bobby Valentine's, it's also not exactly sterling. Some see Boston's success in 2013 as being in spite of Farrell dragging the team down with his decisions. He is perceived by some section of the fanbase as an affable idiot who keeps the clubhouse together even as he costs the team wins with lineup or bullpen decisions.
Farrell doesn't exactly help this perception when he talks about playing a matchup that's based on a small handful of at bats, or when he moves guys around in the lineup after tiny samples. There's no denying that, with the information we have, John Farrell makes some moves that are questionable at best, and simply bad if we're being less delicate. But as Price shows us, the information we have is incomplete, and if John Farrell's explanations are sometimes lacking, that doesn't necessarily mean they're entirely honest.
There are some situations where it's hard to make excuses for Farrell. His decision to leave Rick Porcello in his most recent start for that sixth inning is pretty hard to explain, for instance. But no manager is perfect, and every one is allowed their share of mistakes, particularly when they're not two years removed from leading the team to the World Series.
For all those other small infractions, it's worth asking ourselves just how much we know. Is Farrell ignoring the platoon split because he doesn't know much about baseball, or because his player isn't feeling great? Is he basing his opinion on a matchup on a sample size of a dozen at bats, or is he taking a player's word for it that they don't feel comfortable against a certain pitcher rather than forcing them into the game against their will?
Managers are certainly not beyond reproach, much less above being questioned. And when John Farrell does something that's curious, we shouldn't just completely ignore it. But let's keep in mind that there's a lot more at play here than statistics. If John Farrell's job was just to weight splits based on sample sizes, we would have computer programs doing his job. He's got a lot more variables to deal with than that, and if he doesn't always explain every last detail of his reasoning, well, perhaps that's because he doesn't want everyone knowing what's going on behind closed doors.