On paper, the Boston Red Sox’s decision to let go of manager John Farrell on Wednesday after the team won its second consecutive American League East title for the first time ever seems strange.
The Red Sox undoubtedly were more successful in Farrell’s five seasons than most Major League Baseball teams can claim, winning the division in 2013, 2016 and 2017 and the World Series in 2013, Farrell’s first year as Boston’s skipper. Farrell’s teams went 432-378 (.533), and those 432 wins are sixth-most for a manager in Red Sox history.
But the 55-year-old’s tenure is much more complicated than that.
The Red Sox were a team of extremes with Farrell at the helm, as he also oversaw 2014 and 2015 squads that finished dead last in the division. They had the best offense in baseball in 2016 and were unceremoniously swept by the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series and sputtered to a stop in this season’s ALDS against the Houston Astros, losing in Game 4 after what was a good season overall.
And while that’s certainly not all on Farrell — last year’s Indians and this year’s Astros both are very, very good teams — it adds to other issues the Red Sox faced between 2013 and 2017.
Rumors claiming Farrell had lost the clubhouse hounded the manager since the team’s first downslide in 2014. He also made plenty of in-game decisions that left many people scratching their heads. Simply put, Farrell wasn’t a bad manager, but he wasn’t necessarily a great one, either.
Of course, Farrell will receive blame for plenty of things that were out of his control. And a managerial change isn’t going to instantly fix a lot of the problems this club has faced in recent seasons. In fact, we can’t definitively say Farrell exacerbated any of those issues or that anyone else wouldn’t have fared as well or better than him.
But when there’s not necessarily one person to blame, the manager usually takes the fall, and Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski summed that up at a press conference Wednesday.
“Sometimes change can be better, and that’s why we decided to move forward with a change,” Dombrowski said.
The Red Sox announced their search for a new manager will begin immediately.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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