Red Sox

McAdam: Red Sox make the right move in retaining Farrell

McAdam: Red Sox make the right move in retaining Farrell

Feelings still bruised and disbelief still palpable at Fenway Park Tuesday, the Red Sox moved quickly to take care of the first order of off-season business with the announcement that manager John Farrell would return for the 2017 season.

Minutes after John Farrell told reporters inquiring about his job status that he hadn't yet had an opportunity yet to sit down with president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Farrell then bumped into Dombrowski in the hallway outside the Fenway interview room, with the manager leaving and the executive about to enter.

Farrell got his answer soon enough: he would, indeed, be returning for 2017, the final year of his guaranteed deal. The Sox also hold an option for 2018.

"I thought that, for me, John's done a fine job this year,'' said Dombrowski. "I've been happy working with him, myself. I think he has the respect of the clubhouse. We played hard. We had a good season; we won the division title. We communicate well with one another.''

The decision was swift and proper.

The sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series was hugely disappointing, but it doesn't obscure what took place over the course of the regular season, when the Sox won arguably the most competitive division in baseball.

In four years at the helm, Farrell has now won a World Series and two division titles. He also, of course, owns two last-place finishes in years in which the Red Sox retooled their roster and attempted, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to compete at the same time.

Many fans -- and some in the media -- roast Farrell for his in-game strategy, and Monday's season-ending loss apparently provided them with more fodder.

Farrell's decision to pinch-hit Chris Young for Andrew Benintendi -- and not Jackie Bradley Jr. -- was another in a long line of supposedly unpardonable offenses.

The problem with such criticism is it assumes that another decision - say, hitting Young for the slumping Bradley -- would have definitively changed the outcome and assumes that Young would have produced some game-changing and series-altering hit.

Such thinking is foolhardy. But it doesn't stop those Farrell detractors from employing the tactic.

As Dombrowski pointedly noted Tuesday: "A lot of people think they know more than the manager when it comes to strategy. I've been in a room with Tony La Russa, and Jim Leyland and Joe Torre and Bobby Cox and you start talking about strategy.

"You say 'There's a man on first base, it's a 2-2 game in the eighth inning and this is how it shapes up.' And one of them bunts, one tries a hit-and-run, one steals and one does nothing. And they all have their reasons for doing it. I think it's most important they have a reason why they're doing it. So for me, it's a situation where there's a lot of different ways to go about (a particular situation).

"It's having a pulse of your personnel, of what works for you. So you're going to sit up there and you're not going to agree with the strategy of anybody who's your manager. I learned that from Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa. Tony's in the Hall of Fame and Jim should be. So it's just one of those things that come with the territory.''

What's lost here is the big picture -- not with the second-guessing of minutiae.

Farrell oversaw a team that won 93 games. He avoided any noticeable clubhouse drama or eruptions. The team played hard and well and clearly respected his leadership and communication skills.

So the season ended in disappointment with a three-game sweep. The same was true when Terry Francona managed the Sox -- twice.

"I do not feel that in-game strategy is the biggest thing for a manager,'' said Dombrowski. "I think it's important. But there's other things that I think are more important. To me, the most important thing for a manager is that their clubs plays up to its capabilities day-in, day-out. Which means that they're communicating with their players, and that they're getting everything that they can and that means that their club is playing hard.''

Judged by that criteria, Farrell unquestionably deserved to return.


Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.