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The Friday Fire Farrell Index: He gone

Gone, gone, gone.

Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians
Gone gone gone.
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

John Farrell is gone. Even if the Red Sox win the World Series, homey’s time is up. On top of everything else that has happened this season, his “I knew but I didn’t know” reaction to the wonderful, stupid AppleGate “controversy” didn’t simply seal the deal — it showed why he’s probably not the right fit for this team, despite being a good manager, and why he almost certainly won’t be back next season.

To be very clear, the fact the Red Sox were stealing signs via an incredibly stupid and elaborate system of sign passing is not bad but is in fact good and commendable. The way Dave Dombrowski handled it was also good and commendable. Same goes for Dustin Pedroia. They both basically said sign stealing was fine in their book and butts if they went too far.

Farrell said he knew the Sox tried to steal signs but didn’t know about the scheme. If this is a lie to cover his ass, it’s an unconvincing one. You’d hurt yourself trying to keep absolutely anything a secret while openly talking about it in dugout with 20 people. If it’s not a lie, then he really is as clueless as his certifiably clueless critics charge.

Either way, the incident is, to horrendously mix metaphors, the canary that broke the camel’s back, way down in the coal mine. What was the camel doing in the coal mine? I cannot tell you. That one’s a puzzler.

The next puzzler will be who takes over for Farrell, should his firing or resignation come to pass. Sox fans will complain that Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo got away from the organization, but I get the sense they’d be complaining about that even if the Sox were facing the D-Backs in the World Series, when Farrell would be the opposing manager, and thus just as “good.” I very much hope we get to this bridge so that we can cross it, by the way, because the Red Sox would be in the World Series, but I don’t think they will and Lovullo’s not available, so it’s moot.

It’s also an open question how better the next manager could even be, given the team at his disposal. As Brett Cowett said on today’s contentious episode of BP Boston’s The Red Seat podcast, the Sox are “acceptably good.” (He was paraphrasing me when he said it, and for the record, I was the contentious one on the podcast, albeit on a whole ‘nuther subject. It’s well worth a listen if you want to hear people arguing, but no one argued about that.) On that there is broad agreement: The Red Sox are good enough to win it all but probably will not.

The problem, insofar as there is one, doesn’t seem to really belong to Farrell. The team runs into too many outs on the bases and his methods annoy some fans to no end, but, in the end, the culprit truly is “not having David Ortiz,” and the new normal has to account for this in a way that doesn’t redound to the manager. The Farrell haters seem to blame the manager for not being as good as he was when the team had Big Papi when the problem with that argument, and the team as currently constituted, is bleedingly obvious as you’re making it. It doesn’t have dick-all to do with Farrell that Ortiz is retired, full stop, and he shouldn’t be blamed.

Farrell’s problem is that the World Series-winning team he helmed was surprising and likable in a way that most Red Sox teams have no shot to be, simply by virtue of being the big, bad Red Sox. They’re not the good guys, and to that end I’m happy that AppleGate has effectively turned them into heels. As crumbly as Farrell is, though, he doesn’t seem to want to go full asshole — he’s not a master of equivocation, but he certainly likes to try — and in this case it probably hurts hit chances to stick around.

I don’t much care who replaces him or to speculate who it should be, other than to say that it should clearly be Jim Leyland. He’s probably too old, but he’d be so good with this group of clowns. Alas, the Sox will likely have to settle for Not Jim Leyland, and he will probably be okay. He will also probably not win a World Series title, which Farrell did, simply because the odds are always against it. Let’s remember this when we judge Farrell. The World Series he won. Because it was good!

Even the title can’t help Farrell now, though. The adage about everything ending badly, because otherwise it continue ad infinitum, isn’t true, though, and is clearly false in this case, where you can see the amicable parting coming from months away. It’s time to move on, and I’m sure Farrell can read the signs. If this is it, he should leave with that incredible chin held high. He’s earned it.

(And Jim Leyland should replace him.)