Sure, the Sox will field a team in 2013 that features a number of players with potential for All-Star-caliber years. With there now being two wild cards, Boston may even have a shot at the postseason after losing over 90 games this past season.
But the real reason the hire of Farrell was a great decision is that it brings legitimacy and authority back the to Red Sox organization for the long term.
The Sox could not accomplish their goal of being a premier organization that competes for World Series championships every year with what transpired over the past couple of seasons.
It started with the 2011 collapse, which was a debacle in itself: the team finished with a 7-20 September record that stemmed from terrible pitching performances over the last month. It was later discovered that the staff was slacking in workouts and not following orders (perhaps a reason for this was that for the first time since 2006, Farrell was not the pitching coach).
But what was more damaging to the franchise was the media vendetta aimed at the players and manager. The reports of chicken and beer in the clubhouse were greatly exaggerated but still damning, as was the false claim that Francona had been addicted to pain medication.
The media’s attacks against the team didn’t stop this season, as new manager Bobby Valentine added far too much fuel to the fire.
Not only did he routinely make inflammatory comments about his players, but he also didn’t get along with his coaches, and by the end of the season Valentine essentially checked out because of all the media pressure. Not coincidentally, the team won one of their final 13 games.
By hiring Farrell, the unacceptable effort from the players and media sideshow that followed this team will be gone.
Farrell brings authority to the Sox. He won a World Series ring with the team and is respected by the players, especially the pitching staff.
When he was the pitching coach from 2007-2010, the staff accumulated the most pitching WAR in all of baseball, and its 4.11 ERA ranked third in the American League. Compare that to the past two seasons, when the Sox had a 4.46 ERA and ranked 25th in all of baseball.
It’s also universally accepted that this was GM Ben Cherington’s decision. That was not the case with Valentine's hiring.
Many in the media wrote that the team’s owners disagreed with Cherington’s managerial assessment last winter and chose Valentine over his own top choice. By letting Cherington have complete authority in this hire, the owners are signaling that these decisions now end with Cherington’s final say.
This paves the way for Cherington to bring the Sox back to the 2003 to 2007 days, when the team was one of the most respected and successful in all of baseball. The organization had great communication from top to bottom, focused on player development, and cultivated player/coach relationships.
That started to slip in the last couple years, and certainly fell apart with Bobby V leading the way and mixed signals in the front office.
With Farrell on board, those will not be a problem.
Farrell and Cherington know how the club operated when they were winning. They will strive to get back to the formula that helped them attain a championship. An organization works better when it’s united and everyone is on the same page. The Sox took an important first step in reaching that goal by hiring Farrell.
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