Top Five Reasons Why My FOLLOWERS Believe John Farrell is UNFIT to be Red Sox Manager.

 

5.  @zack_graham5   says:   “Because he ACTUALLY started David Price in a PLAYOFF game!”

 

For a guy who tends to lean heavily on metrics, it almost truly is fair to question why a pitcher with the terrible record (0-8  as a starting pitcher)  Price has, is even on the post season roster to begin with.   Even in the 2015 playoffs, Toronto brought him out of the bullpen in RELIEF, and he STILL gave up three runs!

 

4.  @jacobnunn315  &  @realslimbrady09  say:   “Farrell simply isn’t a good source of inspiration.”

 

Absolutely true.  When the Red Sox are backed against the wall, Farrell never seems to effectively motivate or guide them through crucial moments as we have seen with other teams in seasons/post seasons past.

 

3.  @macesin_smith  says:  Farrell has no idea how to manage a bullpen!!!”

 

This is always my BIGGEST concern with Farrell being in charge.  He has trust issues with every single reliever in the pen.  In all of 2016, he never showed a prolonged period of faith in any single reliever for a set up role in the 8th inning.  Clearly BRAD ZIEGLER was that guy, and had been a top reliever the last few years.  Not once, but TWICE Farrell chose Junichi Tazawa in extremely critical late inning scenarios, and neither ended well.  BOTH times the easy, sure fire, no brainer decision was definitely Ziegler.   And finally, if Dave Dombrowski is gonna try to win a World Series with a FLAWED and underwhelming bullpen, he shouldn’t be leaving it in the hands of a FLAWED MANAGER.

 

2.  @austin_delillo   says:   “He’s a FUCKING idiot!  

 

INDEED!

 

1.   @SGhotdogking   says:   Farrell actually believes Craig Kimbrel is ANYTHING but a FAILED abortion!

 

HARSH!  And while I can’t necessarily agree 100% at this very moment….   I might by EARLY JUNE!

Red Sox Q & A with my Twitter Followers!

@bandinibaseball   asks:   “How will the lack of depth at third base hurt the Red Sox in 2017?”

The Red Sox ideally would have an impact player at third base, but there should be enough offense throughout the lineup to balance them out.   If you think about it, Boston hasn’t really had good third baseman since Mike Lowell manned that position from 2006 through 2010.  Youkilis did takeover for one year in 2011, but spent most of the second half of the season on the DL.

Like Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez spent the entire last off season as the “punching bag,” and ended up exceeding everyone’s expectations.  Perhaps Sandoval will take a similar path.  After all, he is a former three time World Series winner, and World Series MVP.   If the sky falls and he absolutely can’t perform, I would expect Brock Holt to fill in, and top prospect Sam Travis to get some reps as well.   But for now, we begrudgingly have to hold out for Sandoval to see if he can recapture past glory.  He deserves the benefit of the doubt.

@RyanMurphyr  asks:    What percentage chance do you give David Ortiz of coming out of retirement?

Honestly?  75%   If Ortiz does comeback, it likely wouldn’t be until June or July.  As much as we love Big Papi, he does have the flare for the dramatic at times, and NOTHING would send more shockwaves if the return comes mid-season.   By that point, he will likely be sick of his boring retired life, and the “honey-do” list from the wife.   Not to mention only playing a half-season would preserve his durability.

The Red Sox seem to be much more prone to the “June-Swoon” than any other major league club.  Couple that with some injuries, I could see an easy path back to the batter’s box for David Ortiz.   The President of the United States has his “nuclear button.”  And I’m sure Dave Dombrowski has his “Big Papi button.”

@DanBruneau  asks:  What’s your Mookie Betts prediction for this year?  Does he match last year?

The short answer is no.   It’s simply too tall of a task.  However, I do expect Mookie will likely hit around .300, and might very well have a 30/100 year.   He’s a perennial all star, and I don’t anticipate a serious lack of production.   I’m far more concerned about Xander Bogaerts having a bad 2017 than I am Mookie Betts.

@dsherman7698  asks:  Do you think the Sale trade will hurt the Red Sox in a few years?   Losing Kopech and Moncada hurts.

Ultimately Chris Sale is only under contract for the next three years, so whatever happens after that point isn’t too relevant.  Dave Dombrowski decided he wanted to “go for it” now rather than later.  With that said, I did not like this trade.   My opinion on this matter isn’t very popular, but despite those three bad ALDS games, our rotation was actually very formidable before the trade.  I would have followed the blue prints that Cleveland & Kansas City designed, and built up a power bullpen.  But Dave Dombrowski has never understood the value of a great bullpen prior to arriving in Boston, and still apparently doesn’t.

The Chicago White Sox will have Moncada for the next six or seven years, and he will likely be an MVP several times over.   It definitely hurts, I feel your pain.

@BigTurfGuy  asks:  What’s the harm in throwing Greg Holland an offer?   If he’s healthy, it could take our bullpen to the next level.  Should be cheap/short money.

Bingo!!!   I actually tweeted this several weeks ago.  Holland is seeking a two year deal for a healthy sum of money, so all interested teams are likely waiting out his market to see if it comes down.  Although it could be a risky proposition, I would definitely take the chance, even for two years.   The Red Sox have essentially replaced Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler with Tyler Thornsburg and Carson Smith.   Both of whom have serious injury concern/liabilities themselves.   So why add another player with similiar concerns such as Holland?   Because chances are AT LEAST one of them will pan out, if not two.  And if all three pan out?   We may as well fast foward to October.

Aside from any injury concerns, it takes a strong player to be able to handle the pressures of pitching in Boston.  We have absolutely no clue whatsoever as to whether Thornsburg & Smith can handle the pressure.  Mark Melancon couldn’t handle it.  Craig Kimbrel couldnt handle it.  He doubled his career ERA last year.  On the flip side, Jonathan Papelbon was able to thrive off the intensity of Boston.  Uehara had the distinct advantage of not understanding english, so he could play dumb to any criticism.  Though he likely would have taken the same historic path to the 2013 World Series regardless of his foreign language barrier.   The Red Sox have the payroll means (Albeit just barely) to sign Holland.  There’s no reason not to.  It would improve our World Series chances immensely.  We just need a President of Operations (Dombrowski) to understand that.  As great as our starting pitching rotation is, a bad bullpen could still sink us.

Thanks to everyone who participated.   I also encourage all readers to give the question askers a follow.  We’re all in this journey together!

David Ortiz Was Legendary For More Than His On-Field Heroics

Miguel Cabrera makes $30M a year.  Is he worth it?  So far he is.   The most David Ortiz made in a single season was $16M, and that was only in 2016.  He left another $16M on the table by retiring before the end of his contract.  Basically what makes this comparison relevant, is that he provided the Red Sox with a $30M offense for HALF the price.  Whether or not he’s a DH doesn’t matter.  So will Cabrera at some point.  In fact, it’s probably stupid for him not to be.  Being a DH will preserve his health.

David Ortiz was never interested in testing the free agent Market.  He only ever wanted the Red Sox to make some kind of commitment to him in terms of years.  Any other player that had his God given ability would DEFINITELY have tested the free agent market, priced himself out of Boston, and retired on another team.
All that mattered to David Ortiz was that he spent the remainder of his career with the Boston Red Sox.  There will never be anyone else like him.  No other fan base will ever have the privilege of a larger than life player that was so loyal to his fans and team.

Red Sox Catching

By Terry Cushman  –  @cushmanMLB

CHRISTIAN VAZQUEZ:

Vazquez is my least desired option.  Ever since he arrived at Fenway, fans and media have raved over his “defensive wizardry,” and quickly anointed him “the catcher of the future.”   However, to be completely frank, he’s an absolute BUST.   He can’t hit.   Not only can he not hit, he even had his offensive struggles when he was sent back to Pawtucket early last summer.   The pitching staff struggles MIGHTILY with Vazquez behind the plate.  To be more specific, his pitch calling is horrendous.   Price, Porcello, and Buchholz all had staggeringly high ERA’s the first two months.   Their saving grace was the robust Red Sox offense.  The only part of Christian Vazquez’ skill set that impresses me, is his ability to keep runners from stealing.  His arm is a cannon.  He might blow it out again, but it’s definitely a cannon.  Unfortunately, that’s still not enough to justify a spot on the big league roster.   The cold hard truth is that he’s simply not a big league player in any aspect.   If anyone tries to jerk you off by telling you how rosy his future in Boston is, that’s fine if you’re into that sort of thing.  I, however, am not.

BLAKE SWIHART:

I’m fond of Swihart.  He definitely got off to a rough start defensively behind the plate last season, and became a prime example of how Boston fans can have short memories.   Only one season prior (2015), he posted a sturdy .274 batting average over the course of a healthy 84 game sample size.  What was the difference between 2015 and 2016?   Lovullo managed him for the bulk of his 2015 stint, while Farrell managed him for 2016.   Under Lovullo, he without a doubt lived up to all of the hype he garnered throughout his run in the Red Sox farm system.   Not only did he prove himself in the batter’s box, and demonstrate exceptional base running speed for a catcher, he worked very well with the pitching staff.  Joe Kelly at one point had an 8-0 streak with Swihart catching him that year.   Rick Porcello had a bounce back upon returning from the DL.  And even cowboy Wade Miley managed to salvage his season in the last couple months.  Unfortunately for Swihart, John Farrell returned to the helm for 2016.   Farrell’s job was on the line from the very outset in April, and Swihart wasn’t given a fair opportunity to work through some of his defensive woes.  Had Lovullo been calling the shots, I believe Swihart would have kept his job, and ultimately rounded into form.   His future as an all around catcher is very bright nonetheless, and could potentially be an all star in his career several times over.  But whether that takes place in Boston remains to be seen.

SANDY LEON:

Sandy Leon is my hero.  In fact, he’s everyone’s hero.  Many just aren’t smart enough to realize it.   Going back to when he arrived in Boston in 2015 after being acquired by the Nationals, I started noticing his value behind the plate immediately.   Clay Buchholz was having his usual disastrous start to 2015.  But after Leon was called up, his ERA started dropping rapidly.  Leon also worked very well with Rodriguez in spurts.   In 2016 it seemed like Leon’s days in Boston might well be over.  Vazquez and Swihart were both already in Boston, and if you believe everything our beat writers tell you, both prospects were here to stay for years to come.   However, due to the events and mismanagements listed above, Leon caught a break and thrived BIG TIME.   Right out of the gates he was hitting well over .400 (though admittedly an anomaly) for a prolonged period, which fit in nicely with our already torrid offense.  But perhaps not so noticeably, he slowly but surely turned the pitching staff around.  Rick Porcello had an ERA over 4.00 for the first ten weeks of the season before going on a career best run.  Price was having his ups and downs, but also eventually strung together a run that resembled his dominance of old.  Leon walked the tight rope with Pomeranz keeping him competitive in games.  Most impressively and impossibly of all, he once again guided Buchholz and Rodriguez to stunning turn arounds.  Rodriguez was flirting with no-hitters, and Buchholz had an ERA of well under 3.00 in the final weeks of the season.  The Red Sox would not have even made it to the playoffs had it not been for Leon’s steadiness and stability.  And for that matter, Rick Porcello absolutely without a doubt would not have won the 2016 AL Cy Young award had Leon not been behind the plate.  Furthermore, the chances of another Red Sox having a back to back Cy Young winner again in 2017 rise exponentially if Leon stays on as catcher.   All the potential is in our rotation for it to happen.

I love Sandy Leon.   He’s my guy.

The Peril that is Farrell

By  Terry Cushman   –   @cushmanMLB

It’s a well known fact since early 2015, that I am a STAUNCH John Farrell hater.   If there is a person on twitter or somewhere on the internet that hates John Farrell more than me, I would like to meet him/her.

Truth be told, the moment Bobby Valentine was mercifully fired in October of 2012, nobody wanted John Farrell to be the manager of this team as much as I did.  As a Red Sox fan, the worst day of my life  was when they fired Terry Francona (I was in diapers back in 1986).  And after a highly tumultuous year with Valentine at the helm, who better to bring in as manager than someone who was previously a prominent figure in the Francona establishment?   Nobody seemed more fit than Farrell.   Jon Lester was coming off his career worst season.   Daisuke & Lackey were coming off Tommy John Surgery.  And all three had achieved some degree of success while he was their pitching coach.  So sending Mike Aviles to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for John Farrell made perfect sense.  I had no doubt whatsoever.  It HAD to be Farrell.

In 2013 everything went right.  The Red Sox were firing on all cylinders, and were able to ride a season long wave  without it virtually ever crashing.  The only glaring mistake that Farrell was heavily criticized for, was not doing a double-switch in a late inning World Series game in St. Louis.  Rather than pulling someone off the bench to pinch hit for Brandon Workman, he allowed Workman to strike out at the plate in a crucial at bat.  Workman had subsequently never taken a single at bat in professional baseball.  The last time he was in a batter’s box was back when he was in high school.  As Farrell took his criticism for that misstep, I was among the sympathizers that insisted nobody is perfect, and he would likely only improve as a manager with each passing year.

Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The wheels in most of our heads started spinning in 2014 that Farrell very well could be inept as a manager.  It was tough to tell due to the fact Cherington blew the team up, and too many inexperienced  farm hands had been called up to truly guage Farrell’s ability to lead this team.  Or additionally coming up with effective solutions to “right the ship” when the Red Sox are performing less than stellar.

2015 all but confirmed our fears.  We witnessed misstep after misstep from a manager who not only couldn’t handle the pressure, but at times couldn’t get out of his own way.  It was like night and day when Torey Lovullo took over during Farrell’s leave of absence.  Lovullo gave the players a longer leash, and instilled a Francona-like faith in them, which in turn saw each player gain an immense faith in themselves.  The Red Sox were the best team in baseball during the final two months of the season with Lovullo calling the shots.

2016 was a roller coaster season to say the least.  Farrell finally had his ace (David Price), and the Red Sox actually enjoyed a decent start to the season.  The pitching was lagging, but the offense was off the charts.  Mookie, Bogaerts, & Ortiz got off to a fast start.  Pedroia & Shaw were highly productive.  Jackie Bradley Jr had some people convinced he was gonna break Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak.   But as the offense cooled off, so did the Red Sox.   The bullpen was in shambles.   Price & Porcello’s  4.00+  ERA’s looked a lot uglier now that their run support had evaporated.  John Farrell & Carl Willis didn’t seem to have any answers. Together they looked like a couple of monkeys trying to solve a sudoku. By the end of June the Red Sox were sinking like a rock, and the timing seemed right for us to slip out of contention as was we had the two previous seasons.

While the #FIREFARRELL drama was heightening,  it seemed like the “get out of jail” free card he had received due his cancer diagnosis might have finally expired.  But agonizingly, instead of firing the manager, Dave Dombrowski inserted the Red Sox pitching analytics director (Brian Bannister) into actual on-field activities.  It was a frantic solution aimed at avoiding a major P.R. disaster for Dombrowski, who had a lot invested into 2016.  Luckily for him, the rotation steadily rounded into form.  As did the offense.  But the bullpen continued to struggle with consistency until the month of September.  Mostly in part due to Farrell’s obliviousness to the fact he had very capable 8th inning guy in the form of Brad Ziegler.   Ziegler was also a HIGHLY effective 9th inning guy in Arizona.  But Farrell only saw him as a “right handed specialist.”    In TWO critical late inning situations where he had a seemingly obvious choice between choosing Ziegler (winning) or Tazawa (losing), he chose Tazawa both times.

Nonetheless, the Red Sox cruised into October thanks in part to an 11 game win streak that was started by Hanley Ramirez.  The ALDS was an intriguing matchup between Boston & Cleveland.  It was a chance for John Farrell to possibly slam the door on three straight years of intense criticism.  And also for David Price to finally put his post season demons to rest.   Cleveland had a severely undermanned rotation.  They basically patch worked a three man rotation comprised of their ace, and two glorified long-relievers as their starting 1-2-3.   Surely Red Sox Ownership were still bitter that Francona had the balls to retaliate at them via his autobiography. He was viciously slandered through the media after being fired few years earlier, and Sox Ownership were likely begging for the opportunity of crushing his dreams of another championship and getting the last laugh.

Unfortunately for Red Sox Ownership, Farrell prepared the Red Sox for the ALDS as if they were about to play a spring training series.  Francona however, had his team prepared to embark on a historic post season run.   Not only was the ALDS not close on the field, it wasn’t close in the dugout either.  Francona was out managing Farrell while utilizing every possible move in his playbook.   It was as if Francona was playing checkers against a blind man.  From a pure baseball academic perspective, Francona intellectually FLOGGED Farrell from the first out in game one, to the final out in the three game sweep.

Dave Dombrowski has been around baseball for a long time.  He wasted no time whatsoever in announcing Farrell’s return in 2017.   He’s smart enough to know that his best protection from this rabid fan base, is to make sure he keeps someone else (Farrell) around that the fans can hate more than him.   John Farrell is nothing more than an insurance policy for him.  If this season goes awry, he can finally point his finger and assign all the blame at John Farrell, and act like the hero for finally firing him.   Once he uses that mulligan, he would obviously be granted a transition period to install a new manager.

What Dombrowski is NOT smart enough to know, is that Boston fans are some of the smartest in all of sports.  We read between the lines.  Writers like Abraham, Tomase, Drellich, & Bradford have tried selling us their laughably biased & toxic Pro-Farrell narrative, which Red Sox fans are no longer buying.  We don’t like our intelligence insulted.  The more they try to cram it down our throats, the quicker we spit it out.  Dombrowski won’t be able to hide behind those narratives much longer.

The vast majority of Boston fans despise John Henry & Tom Werner for their behind the scenes backstabbing.  A very similar if not bigger majority hate our Manager.   It’s a very unlikeable group, and not good foundation for Dombrowski.

Ben Cherington was a hero when he hoisted up the World Series trophy in 2013.   18 short months later Boston fans were calling for his head.  Dombrowski has never been a hero in Boston to begin with.  If he can’t find someone to effectively lead this team on the field more sooner than later, perhaps he too will also learn that the tide turns very quickly in the city of Boston.

CLEVELAND IS MY PICK TO WIN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE PENNANT!

By  Terry Cushman   –   @cushmanMLB

 

The Detroit Tigers & Kansas City Royals are seemingly content to sell off pieces to transition into rebuilding mode.  Two other American League Central teams are already rebuilding (Twins & White Sox).   That pretty much makes the A.L. Central a one horse race for Cleveland to cruise into October.

Aside from their easy path, the Cleveland Indians are simply the most well balanced team in the American League.

Their pitching staff is solid with Kluber, Carrasco, & Salazar.   Their bullpen is stout with Allen, Miller, & Shaw.  The heart of their batting order is iron clad with Lindor, Kipnis, Brantley, and the newly acquired Edwin Encarnacion.

No other team in the American League is as balanced, and as proven.  This Cleveland team has been to the dance recently.  They also have Terry Francona who has guided past teams through the toughest of circumstances.  He will lead this team brilliantly to another World Series appearance, and probably win it.

My heart will always say Boston, but my head says it’ll be Cleveland in 2017.  They’re prime time.