Two days after being eliminated from the playoffs, the Boston Red Sox are already making moves. And their first one is a big one.
John Farrell, who has managed the Red Sox since 2013, won’t be managing the team anymore. This comes after back-to-back AL East titles, which were followed by back-to-back exits in the first round of the playoffs.
The #RedSox announced today that John Farrell will not return as manager in 2018. A search for a new manager will begin immediately.
— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 11, 2017
Saying that Farrell “will not return as manager in 2018” is just a really nice way of saying that they’ve fired him. As of yet, the team hasn’t given a reason for the decision. But it sounds like even winning the World Series wouldn’t have saved Farrell’s job, as team president Dave Dombrowski told reporters:
Dombrowski said Farrell was fired for reasons he won't disclose and that no level of team success would have prevented that.
— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 11, 2017
Scott Lauber at ESPN also dropped this tidbit into his piece on Farrell’s firing:.
In dumping Farrell now, Dombrowski agreed that the team needs a new voice in the clubhouse and a fresh public face. Despite another first-place finish, the Red Sox grew increasingly unpopular this season. Prime-time television ratings on New England Sports Network dropped 15 percent below last year, David Ortiz’s final season.
Within the past few days, ownership came around to the idea that Farrell was partially responsible.
Well, needing a new “public face” is certainly a reason. Though it’s unclear how much the manager, who typically spends the entire game in the dugout and only makes on-field appearances to argue with umpires and remove pitchers from the game, is responsible for the drop in ratings and popularity. But Farrell was in the final year of his contract with the Red Sox, and after another playoff disappointment (the Red Sox were swept in the 2017 ALDS), even a guy with Farrell’s bona fides wasn’t safe from the ax.
Here’s the statement Farrell released Wednesday about his firing:
John Farrell statement, via the Red Sox: "I have enjoyed every moment of this job — its peaks and its valleys." pic.twitter.com/ALIL0pY8XH
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) October 11, 2017
With the team’s recent success, it’s easy to forget where the Red Sox were when Farrell was hired as manager: they were a mess. After the epic collapse of September 2011 (in which the Red Sox squandered a nine-game wild-card cushion and missed the playoffs), the team had parted ways with Terry Francona and hired Bobby Valentine to manage the team.
Hiring Valentine went as badly as you could imagine. Valentine’s attitude alienated both players and executives, he fought with players in the media, and everyone essentially hated him. The team finished 26 games back in the AL East, and Valentine, who had somehow avoided being fired during the season, was given the boot just days after the season was over.
That’s the team that Farrell inherited when he was hired to manage the Red Sox, after spending four years as Red Sox pitching coach and two years as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. But in his first year helming the Red Sox, he led the team to a World Series Championship, and would take them to the playoffs two more times. Under Farrell, the team had back-to-back 93-win seasons and won a total of three AL East crowns.
All told, Farrell had a 432-378 record as Red Sox manager. With that kind of record, Red Sox fans have plenty of good memories to connect with Farrell. But his final act as manager — his ejection in Monday’s ALDS Game 4 against the Astros — might end up being one of the enduring memories of Farrell in Boston.
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