John Farrell

John Farrell interviews Mookie Betts on ESPN

John Farrell interviews Mookie Betts on ESPN

After his stellar performance in the Red Sox' 14-1 thrashing of the Yankees, Mookie Betts was asked a question on ESPN by his former manager John Farrell.

The ex-Red Sox skipper asked Betts about his aggressive approach at the plate, which ironically is an approach often associated with Alex Cora's mentality as the new manager.

Farrell joined ESPN as an in-studio analyst following his firing, and also serves as a scout in the Cincinnati Reds organization.

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A refreshing change from 2017: Cora admits a mistake

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A refreshing change from 2017: Cora admits a mistake

BOSTON -- Accountability Alex is in full affect, painting a new image for his club and helping his players as he goes.
 
The Red Sox manager on Tuesday afternoon acknowledged something the 2017 Red Sox seemingly never did: a mistake. He noted a flat-out lapse in judgment in a particular moment from Sunday's game. 

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Is Sox' fast start worth celebrating?
 
Cora should have pulled J.D. Martinez from left field for a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. Jackie Bradley Jr. was on the bench, the Sox had an 8-7 lead and Craig Kimbrel was on the mound.
 
But the bottom of the eighth inning was pretty wild as the Sox erased a five-run deficit.
 
"Honestly -- I'm going to be honest with you," Cora said. "We scored six runs, and we were so excited about it, and the manager missed that one."
 
Woah. No song and dance? Cora was later asked why he was being so honest.
 
"Because I did. Why lie, you know?" Cora said. "It happens. Everybody saw it. I think I ask our guys to be genuine, transparent and responsible. So, if I'm asking them to be that way, well, I better be that way. Because if I say something else, they know I'm not telling the truth."
 
Refreshing as a sip of Zima. In Game No. 9 as a big-league manager, Cora made a mistake, and he publicly identified it. Heck, Gabe Kapler has probably made it impossible for Cora to look bad anyway.
 
Cora said from the outset of his time with the Sox he wasn't going to change his approach, and after 2017, it was clear the Sox needed Cora to follow through to that end.
 
Whether Cora realizes it or not, there's a ripple effect when he takes the stage as he did Tuesday. He pulled the conversation, and any pressure that comes with being a part of the conversation, away from the players and onto himself. You can call that the Tito Special.
 
Instead of a discussion with the media about Martinez's subpar play in left field Sunday, as could have cropped up, Cora's pregame session veered toward the skipper. And he steered it there, whether he meant to or not. The manager does not control the questions, but he does seem to understand what the public, the media and the fans, generally want to hear -- and serving it appears a genuine response. And when the media hears something interesting about the manager -- like an admission of fault -- the media typically follows that thread.


 
PINCH RUN?
 
There was one other move Sunday that was a little puzzling: Choosing not to pinch run for Christian Vazquez with Blake Swihart in the eighth inning. The latter is certainly faster. Vazquez scored the tying run in the eighth inning on a Mookie Betts single as the Sox stormed back, but a better throw home probably nails Vazquez.
 
"He's one of our best base runners out there," Cora said. "He's not the fastest one, but his secondaries are a lot better than a lot of guys that we have and he has a sense of the game. Where they were in the outfield, that was probably, you know, I don't think there was going to be a play. With two outs and you go with the swing, he was going to get a good jump and score."
 
Speed is still what matters most, so Cora's explanation may have been missing a piece. Did Cora feel comfortable with Swihart catching in the ninth inning, or would he have had to then turn to Sandy Leon and leave no catchers on the bench? That's unclear. But, unlike the choice to leave Martinez in the outfield, leaving Vazquez in was by design.

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Pedroia: Farrell's approach 'would wear on guys'

Pedroia: Farrell's approach 'would wear on guys'

While John Farrell was addressing his firing from the Red Sox for the first time Monday morning, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was also addressing it, telling WEEI that Farrell's approach "would wear on guys" last season. 

“The overall approach, every day, would wear on guys," Pedroia told WEEI's OMF Show. "It wasn’t people not liking each other. We all love each other. Trust me. There’s the mindset of, ‘You show up to the yard, you put your work in, you have your approach that day, and you try to execute it. If you don’t, guess what? You’re going to show up tomorrow and still be in the lineup. We’re all going to have confidence in you. We’re all going to show up and try to win and accomplish the same thing.’ That’s what wore on guys and made the season that much more grueling – when everything that day was more magnified..."

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Farrell, speaking on an ESPN conference call as he prepares for a new role as an analyst on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight", told reporters, including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, that he had a "little bit of a gut feeling" a change might be coming late last season.

“As the season wore on and we got down to the final weeks, maybe there was a little bit of a gut feeling, that you know what, this [firing] might be taking place, and it did, so I wish [new manager] Alex Cora and everybody else going forward the best.”

Farrell said it was "a little bit of surprise a change was made" after he led Boston to back-to-back American League East titles.

“If you finished in first place last year, you were twice as likely to be fired as if you finished in last place," Farrell said. "From that perspective, yes, a little bit of a surprise a change was made, but I do know that Dave [Dombrowski] came in and he inherited me, so he felt there was change needed because we made quick exits two years consecutively after winning the division both years and going to the postseason."

After going through his first spring training under Cora, Pedroia - who'll begin the season on the disabled list after offseason knee surgery - seemed to suggest he preferred his former teammate's way of managing. 

“It’s more ‘put your work in and stick with the process, don’t worry about results that day, because over the course of the season, you’re going to be the type of player you are throughout 162 games,’” Pedroia said. 

The second baseman said Farrell and the old coaching staff "put a lot of pressure" on the team.

"It put a lot of pressure on our young guys, it put a lot of pressure on our veteran guys," Pedroia said. "That’s the part, when you wear Mookie [Betts] or [Xander Bogaerts] say they weren’t having much fun, you don’t ever have a chance to enjoy yourself if you don't go 4-for-4, throw a complete game shutout, or we don’t win by 10. You don’t look ahead to the end of what we were trying to build for.”
 

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