When next season gets underway with Farrell at the helm, it'll be time to give Red Sox nation what it wants: a team that makes its fans proud again. As anyone in Boston knows, a huge part of that pride hinges on how the team fares against the New York Yankees.
Among the best rivalries in sports, the most recent Sox/Yankees episodes haven't been favorable for Boston. New York took 13 of the teams' 18 matchups in 2012, winning the AL East and advancing to the ALCS while the Red Sox finished dead last in the division.
In 2013, however, Sox fans once again have reason to believe that their team can compete with its sworn enemy in New York. Here are three reasons that, with Farrell managing the team, Boston will rekindle the best rivalry in baseball.
Beckett's was one of several giant contracts the Red Sox unloaded in August.
Though the Red Sox have consistently had one of the highest MLB payrolls over the past decade, Boston fans have historically been able to take solace in the fact that their team annually pays its players something like $50 million less than the Yankees do. This allowed for a fierce pride in Red Sox nation, as the Sox were able to compete with New York despite not shelling out quite as much cash.
That wasn't the case in 2012, however, as Boston came closer to New York's league-leading figures than ever before. Which would have been fine, of course, except that the insanely expensive Boston roster went on to achieve the team's worst record since 1965.
By trading Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers in August, the Red Sox unloaded a huge portion of that payroll. They could now make a huge free-agent signing with all that free money, but that doesn't seem especially likely at the moment.
Instead, it looks as though Boston will retreat a bit on the MLB payroll chart, hopefully make some smart, economical signings and work with what they've got. Red Sox fans can once again be proud of the fact that their team is not like the Yankees—an assembly of highly paid, big-name players.
Lester will look to rebound after an off-year in 2012.
As noted earlier, this is not Farrell’s first gig in the Boston dugout. He spent four years there as a pitching coach before taking the head job in Toronto.
A big part of the reason Red Sox fans are happy to see him come back is that the very part of the team Farrell was in charge of during his time in Boston—the pitching staff—was clearly its weakest link in 2012. As a team, Boston's ERA was the fourth worst in all of baseball.
With Farrell in control of things, one must assume that major attention will be devoted to fixing that problem. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, with Farrell’s help, will be among those expected to rebound from dismal years and return to the high level of pitching Sox fans know they are capable of. John Lackey will be back from Tommy John surgery as well, and early reports on his comeback have only been positive.
With Boston’s old pitching coach now running the show, look for a Red Sox pitching renaissance in 2013. That alone would mean Boston’s rivalry with the Yankees is back on in full force.
Farrell understands the pressure that comes with running the show in Boston.
Possibly the best part of the Farrell hiring, from a fan’s perspective, was the way he acted in his introductory press conference and the way he already appears to be treating his new job.
Farrell spoke of a “relentless” attitude that he plans to bring to the field. In John Powers’ piece in the Boston Globe on Saturday, Red Sox President Larry Lucchino recounts conversations with Farrell in which the new manager calls Boston “the epicenter of the game” and refers to managing the Red Sox as his “dream job.”
Red Sox fans devote an enormous amount of passion to their team, and it’s clear that Farrell recognizes, appreciates and echoes that. It’s not clear that Bobby Valentine ever did.
As manager, it appears that Farrell has the enthusiasm necessary to right the Red Sox ship and make them a contender again. In doing so, the team’s briefly dormant rivalry with the New York Yankees will be reignited.