It goes without saying that June was a rough month for the Red Sox. Lots of hitters flying high have come crashing back down to earth, the pitching never showed up aside from a handful of hurlers and inconsistency ran rampant. With all those failings comes a nagging want for a scapegoat from the general fanbase. A lot of people who are passionate about the team have passionate feelings about kicking John Farrell to the curb.
Let’s simplify this a bit: it’s just been one bad month. I know, losing sucks. I get it. The Red Sox have been immensely frustrating to watch, it’s true. But let’s ease off on heating up Farrell’s seat. The manager isn’t the common denominator to this team’s failings, even if he hasn’t made the right choices here and there. He doesn’t need to be fired, nor will he be, logic willing.
The Red Sox, at 81 games in, were 44-37. Maybe we expected more after a ridiculous first couple months, but that’s still very good. Great, even, if you’re one with low expectations. So let’s say the Red Sox stay on this course and finish at 88-74. Would you hate that? Probably not! That’s competing for a playoff berth, and that record gives them an outside shot to win the AL East. Three teams with that record or worse made the playoffs last season, and they were all American League teams. It’s not like Farrell has substantially deviated the team from the postseason track they were on. They’re still right in the thick of it! They’re just not above the chaos, that’s all.
Farrell isn’t to blame for slumps and BABIP regressions. I don’t think he could’ve instantly made Hanley’s mid-June power outage end overnight, nor is he responsible for Pedroia not hitting a single home run all month. Shaw was getting exploited pretty badly over the last month by pitchers both right- and left-handed, and is that on the manager? No, or at least, not entirely. The coaches can only help them along. The players have to come through. They have to be the ones to adjust at the plate. For what it’s worth, they probably weren’t going to keep up a historic pace of run-scoring anyway. Probably.
Farrell can’t control how terrible the Red Sox’s in-house starter options are, only which ones he can possibly use.
The one thing Farrell can take some blame for is the pitching, or at least how he manages the pitchers. But even then, it’s difficult to decipher obvious bad moves from calls that simply look bad in hindsight. He can’t control how terrible the Red Sox’s in-house starter options are, only which ones he can possibly use. Clay Buchholz becoming the world’s newest pumpkin? Not his fault. Henry Owens walking his first 40 batters, you, your mother, and half your cousins? Not Farrell’s fault. He rightfully gets flak for certain aspects of his bullpen management, since he’s tended to ride Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara pretty hard every season. But he’s made good decisions more often than not.
Look at Craig Kimbrel. He is the relief ace of this team. You should be able to rely on him anytime, anywhere. Last night against the Rangers, he was not reliable whatsoever. Even so, that was the right choice! Farrell used his best reliever in a one-run game against a very good team to try and keep it that way. That is the best option in that situation. You can’t ask for much more from your manager.
What I’m trying to say is that firing Farrell right now doesn’t make the team better. He’s been more than acceptable in his time at the helm of the Red Sox. Torey Lovullo would also be great as manager, and I like him as well, but right now, he isn’t manager, and won’t be until otherwise told. As of this moment, John Farrell is the Lord of Harrenhal, and no dragons are coming to burn him out just yet. The team isn’t scuffling because of him, and firing him because the team is 45-38 seems really far-fetched. People want a scapegoat for a 28-game span in June. There doesn’t have to be one.
If the Red Sox really felt like firing someone to make it look like they’re taking action, the first one to go would be the pitching coach, Carl Willis. The pitching has been the worst part of the team, and giving him a pink slip would make it look like they’re doing something about it. They haven’t gone with that superficial approach just yet, as they’re getting Brian Bannister to try and assist him. It’s a solid plan to be sure, but one can only assume that Willis might already be on thin ice.
The team is still winning, despite what the reactions you see every game would lead you to believe. It took a historic September collapse to oust Terry Francona (and the team still went 90-72!). The Red Sox endured six months of ineptitude and chronic mismanagement before Bobby Valentine was sent packing. John Farrell has done nothing on that scale to deserve it. 2014 and 2015 were generally bad, yes, but both seem far worse with high expectations than without.
If common sense persists, the Red Sox will not fire Farrell anytime soon. 30 days of bad baseball in the middle of a season, though it seems long, isn’t something that should determine his job over. Should the Red Sox have a few more months where they go 10-18, the pitchers can’t stop giving up homers, and the hitters sputter worse than a badly-tuned car, then yeah, the front office will reconsider. But for now, John Farrell’s job should be safe, and firing him would do a lot more harm than good.
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