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The Red Sox officially introduced John Farrell as their next manager at a noon press conference on Tuesday. In order to sign the man who spent four years in Boston as the pitching coach, the Red Sox had to part with SS Mike Aviles, but they also received RHP David Carpenter as well to complete the trade. This marks the second time in two years that the Sox received a Carpenter in a front-office deal.
At first glance, this isn’t nearly as major a deal as would have gone down had the Sox parted with Clay Buchholz last season for the rights to Farrell; they even managed to get a bullpen arm back their way as well. The Blue Jays must have really needed a shortstop after the trouble Yunel Escobar got into last season when he painted a homosexual slur into his eye black.
Just because Aviles wasn’t as flashy with his glove as Jose Iglesias, don’t be so quick to write off the impact he had for this team. He was an average-level fielder who managed a fielding percentage only 0.005 points below Iglesias. He was definitely a better hitter, as he managed to hit .250, albeit with a sub-.300 on base percentage. Even so, Iglesias could barely hit at the Major League level, at one point being pinch hit for in the middle of an at bat because a runner got into scoring position while he was up.
With the departure of Aviles, the Red Sox are basically committing to one black hole at the bottom of the lineup next season, unless they acquire a new SS. The repercussions of this are that they will definitely have to bolster their lineup in other ways to account for the drop in production. If the Sox believe that Xander Boegarts might be able to play shortstop for the big club within the next year or two, then Iglesias could just be a transition player until he gets here. The other alternative would be to start Pedro Ciriaco at short and hope that his impressive second half wasn’t just a fluke.
While everyone locally knows that Farrell spent four years as the Red Sox pitching coach, he also spent some time in the Indians farm system as its director. This gave him some experience coaching up young players and should help in the near future when the Red Sox farm system starts making its way to the big league club. Following two years of managing in Toronto, he returns to Boston as the heralded savior of a downtrodden (Red Sox) nation.
During his press conference, Farrell answered questions with directness and fortitude that were missing from the previous manager. Cherington said that Farrell’s “integrity leadership skills and intelligence are second to none and make him the right person for this job.” Good vibes were present right from the get-go, and as Farrell was announced by Ben Cherington, a lone unnamed reporter spouted out, “Welcome Back, John.”
In his self-introduction, Farrell poked fun at Cherington, exclaiming that also the “quality of the players on the roster” help to determine the wins, and made sure it was known to all that there was more work to be done. He pledges to bring an “up-tempo, aggressive style of play” that he has learned how to harness from his time in Toronto. That said, Jacoby Ellsbury may come closer to the guy who hit .280 and stole 70 bases rather than the super slugger he was two years ago.
Addressing the supposed lack of effort from the players over the past year, Farrell believes that “our effort is something we can control every night. To give forth our best effort is a minimum”. This is one of the most important things for Red Sox fans to hear, as at times, it felt like there was limited spirit on the field. Though he has had experience in this system before, he knows he will have to work hard to earn the respect of all the players and “there will be no taking for granted that relationships exist”.
When addressing issues of his staff, Farrell believes that those choices are next on the list of things to accomplish. He will be looking to hire men with credible histories who have the players’ best interests in mind. Farrell believes it is critical that “we work as a unit and challenge one another,” while also operating “on the same page and working in one voice.” This was something that the lest regime couldn’t quite get down, as story after story of backstabbing and the chain of order falling apart hit the airwaves.
After a tumultuous season under the helm of Bobby Valentine, John Farrell brings hope to a team that has missed the playoffs the last three seasons. If he can truly get the players on board with his message, as well as influence some new players to want to join the movement in Boston, the Red Sox may not have too far to go to reach relevance once again.
Statistics from of www.fangraphs.com. Quotes from Farrell press conference aired via 98.5 the Sports Hub.