BOSTON -- Whether John Farrell is managing the Red Sox next week or next month, keep an eye on player accountability.
Five years ago, Bobby Valentine was supposed to be the disciplinarian that stopped babying the clubhouse. Disaster followed, largely because Valentine was a terrible fit for this group, his approach extreme and dated.
But this year’s team makes you wonder whether a distilled sense of Red Sox entitlement lingers.
At Fenway Park, is the message from the veteran voices one that includes a sense of public accountability for not just the manager, but the players as well?
In FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s piece on Farrell, Rosenthal noted “some players, but not all, believe that [Farrell] does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media.”
Those unnamed players Rosenthal cites need a mirror, badly. Or at least a glance around the room.
Where’s the guy in the clubhouse standing up to the media with any consistency? There’s no voice that regularly shields the younger, less experienced guys from tough but expected questions after losses.
Dustin Pedroia gets dressed and leaves the clubhouse faster than Chris Sale will get the ball back and throw it Wednesday.
Pedroia mentioned something about whale poop in Oakland over the weekend. He can be very funny, but he’s not exactly keen to deliver calming, state-of-the-union addresses — not with frequency, anyway.
Farrell, of course, has been criticized for doing the opposite of what the FOX Sports story noted. The manager was mobbed on social media last year for saying David Price had good stuff on a day Price himself said the opposite.
The premise here is amusing, if you think about it.
Follow: Players are upset that the manager does not do a better job lying about their performance. And this, in turn, affects how players play?
Get a grip.
The public isn’t dumb. If you’re bad, you’re bad, and you’re going to hear about it in Boston. No manager changes that.
Whichever Sox player seeks more protection from Farrell really needs a reminder from a teammate to play better.
Too often, some of the most famous, prominent athletes can be sensitive, and over-sensitive. Look at how LeBron James handled a question about what led to his poor performance in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
It is true that some players question Farrell’s leadership, as Rosenthal reported. But it can also be difficult to separate questions of leadership from whining and grumbling that a manager isn’t providing said player more chances, more opportunities, even if undeserved.
How can Drew Pomeranz's unfounded dugout complaints be Farrell's fault?
The situation and player that make Farrell look the worst this year is Hanley Ramirez. The idea of him playing first base is gone, his shoulders apparently too screwed up to make that viable.
Somehow, Ramirez made 133 starts at first base last year. One has to wonder how all of a sudden Ramirez can barely play a single game.
If he’s hurt, he’s hurt. But the Sox didn’t come out of the gate in spring training and say, first base is out of the picture because of his health. They kept saying there was hope he'd be able to play in the field.
If Ramirez is being obstinate, he’s in turn making Farrell look weak. And, more importantly, hurting his team.
What would Ramirez be doing if David Ortiz hadn't retired? Spending the year on the disabled list?
Farrell can pack up his bags today, tomorrow or after the next full moon. The players would still need to take it upon themselves to do what’s best for their team: to focus on what matters.
If they’ve forgotten, that’s about performing up to their abilities and being accountable for themselves -- publicly and privately -- when they don’t.
A manager’s quote in the media doesn’t change whether you’re playing bad baseball.