For about a month I’ve struggled with column ideas because it seems like they’ve all come back to analyzing the idea that Red Sox manager John Farrell should be fired, an idea that’s pervasive on Twitter, if not elsewhere (talk radio, most likely). It was only yesterday that I decided this should be the focus of the column, not just today, but every Friday throughout the remainder of the season.
Without further ado, I present to you the first edition of the Friday Fire Farrell Index, a weekly look how likely Farrell is to keep his job, based on both his entire body of work and the results of the previous seven days.
To begin with, let me say that I’m relatively pro-Farrell. More to the point, I’m anti-unnecessary chaos. I do not think firing him is an obvious solution to whatever problems the Red Sox have, principal among them being injuries and drama around four of the five pitchers Dave Dombrowski has supplied to him: Chris Sale is fine, but David Price, Drew Pomeranz, Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith are not, and that is not Farrell’s fault.
Furthermore, I think the “Fire Farrell” brigade, as lively as it can be, is mostly a group of Red Sox fans trying to score cheap points at the expense of the manager. This is a sunk cost for anyone in Farrell’s position, but the Sox recent foot-dragging has amplified these voices to the point that they’re hard to ignore.
With all that said, if this season is going to be a referendum on Farrell’s tenure as Sox manager, I say, so be it, because while I cannot identify any real reason that Farrell should be fired, I similarly cannot think of a reason to keep him aboard during the offseason if it’s generally accepted that it’s time to move on. If Erlich Bachman can leave Silicon Valley, anything’s possible.
So what will it take this season for Farrell to keep his job? Is it a World Series title or bust? I imagine that it might be, even if that’s ultimately an unfair standard. With Gary DiSarcina, Brian Butterfield, Jason Varitek et al. waiting in the wings for a largely administrative position, I don’t see any reason to be wedded to Farrell, even after the 2013 title. The better question is whether or not the “Fire Farrell” crowd would still be out for blood if the Sox win it again this year, the answer to which is almost certainly no, but they could surprise me.
All of this is undertaken to lay bare the mechanics at the heart of the “Fire Farrell” argument: What are John Farrell’s critics actually saying, and why are they saying it? Do they really think he’s a bad manager, or do they just blame him for the bad things that happen to the Red Sox that they feel could have been otherwise avoided? And is that distinction even important?
I’m not sure of the answers to these questions, but I know that after this week, Farrell’s job is as safe as it has been all year. It has been an up-and-down season, but the team is on a four-game winning streak heading into this weekend’s series against the Mariners.
The week began inauspiciously, with FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writing an largely unsourced column basically putting Farrell’s job on the line for him. It had no explicit inside information, save for hearsay reports that some Red Sox have whined that Farrell doesn’t stand up for them enough in the press. The idea that Farrell’s job might be in real danger wasn’t entirely out of left field, either, as Dombrowski recently the manager the dreaded “vote of confidence,” in so many words, in remarks to the press. There’s smoke here, at least.
But fire? Maybe, but Farrell’s not the only one who needs to take a long look in the mirror if the Sox are going to improve, retorted CSNNE’s Evan Drellich, who rightly pointed out that Red Sox carping about Farrell’s treatment behind his back aren’t exactly behaving like paragons of professionalism all the time, either. I’m going to blockquote Drellich here, because he makes good points and whale poop is involved and I don’t want to mess it up:
In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”
Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.
Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.
Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday.
Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.
Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.
The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.
Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?
Get a grip.
This seems logical and correct, in contrast to Rosenthal’s trademark hyperventilation. It’s not the first time he’s done it to the Red Sox, and it won’t be the last, but if it’s best ignored it’s much easier to do so when the team is on a winning streak.
So without further ado, it’s time to rate Farrell’s job security on a scale of 1-11, with 11 being the safest and 1 being the least safe, and the heavy lifting being done by the standings themselves. WIth the Sox four games over .500 and playing well, even Rosenthal would have to admit Farrell’s sitting at about an 8 heading into this weekend, mere days after nearly being swept by last-place Oakland, when he was probably sitting on a 4 at best. Like Pedroia heading for the clubhouse door, life comes at you fast.