As you all probably know by now, the 2012 Boston Red Sox were an excruciating team to watch. This was a team that had no sense of purpose, no passion and absolutely no direction. It can be argued that after the blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, there wasn’t much in the way of major league talent that Boston was putting out on the field. And leading the way in this disaster of a season was the manager, Bobby Valentine, whose leadership skills (at least in Boston) can best be described as being on a sinking ship, getting to the helm and finding out Daffy Duck is the captain.
Ben Cherington had wanted John Farrell all along and finally was able to get him from the Toronto Blue Jays. Farrell hadn’t done all that well in Toronto so they were not that upset to see him go, and it seemed like it just wasn’t quite the right fit there. Boston and Farrell seemed much more natural. Not only was Farrell not Valentine, he also had worked in Boston before and knew what to expect. There is a good reason why this year’s team seems like a throwback to the Red Sox era from about 2004-2011. Farrell was familiar to a lot of the players and he knew how to handle the media; those are important qualities to have in Boston. He also is a very large man so he does have a physical presence, and that can help out a lot, too. Most importantly, he really knows how to handle this team. He dealt with the antics of Alfredo Aceves about as well as that situation could be handled. He is professional and keeps any issues in-house which is what a good manager should do. He respects his players and his players respect him.
Not much was expected from the Red Sox this year, so the fact that Boston has not only been competitive but managed to be in first place in their division for most of the season says a lot about the job that Farrell and his coaches have done. It has been a complete team effort. If one player is struggling, someone else is right there to pick him up. It has been about doing the job of running a baseball team, not being the center of attention. I think it helped a lot that Farrell was able to pick his own coaching staff, and that has helped in the communication and everybody being on the same page. It is still strange that Valentine wasn’t able to pick his people and that certainly did not help his cause. The Red Sox have absolutely been one of the biggest surprises, and even if they have some sort of epic choke in this last month, this will still be considered a fantastic year by any standard and leaps and bounds better than the 2012 campaign.
Farrell has shown that with the right talent and chemistry, he can do a very good job managing. He is also very much like Terry Francona, and that sort of leadership plays very well in Boston. Francona’s career in Boston didn’t end well, but he was easily the most successful manager in Red Sox history.
Based on the calming influence, the culture change and the surprising way Boston played this year, there really shouldn’t be much doubt at all that Farrell is the AL Manager of the Year.