Red Sox

Drellich: After season, Red Sox should extend John Farrell long-term or fire him

bsb-dombrowski-farrell-7-19-17.jpg

Drellich: After season, Red Sox should extend John Farrell long-term or fire him

John Farrell’s contract runs through next season. Once this season is over, the Sox need to extend him for multiple years or fire him.

No in-between, Dave Dombrowski. Not if you want to avoid unnecessary drama for your club.

The last manager the Red Sox president of baseball operations personally installed, Brad Ausmus, is a free agent. Ausmus is finishing the last year of his deal in Detroit and the Tigers won’t bring him back.

This isn’t going where you think. 

Oh, speculation the Sox could pursue Ausmus will crop up, whether founded or not. That’s what happens when there’s a connection between a lead executive and an available skipper.

But Ausmus stands as a strong example of what happens when a manager is left in the wind. 

In 2015, when there were false reports Ausmus was fired with one year remaining on his deal, he was on the hot seat and the chatter never disappeared.

"Don't care at all,” Ausmus said two years ago, via ESPN. “Said it before, I'll say it right now. Players will respect you regardless of your contract status. They're gonna respect you because of who you are, not how much money you're making or how long your tenure is.”

In 2016, Ausmus played the year out with no certainty about his future. His 2017 option wasn't picked up until after the season.

“I understand I’m in the crosshairs,” Ausmus said last May, via the Detroit News. “That’s not gonna change the way I do anything . . . I’m not gonna make decisions based on whether I’m gonna get fired or not.”

And then, lo and behold, Ausmus was back in the same position again.

“I don’t worry about it,” Ausmus said in July, via the Free Press. “I don’t really ever worry about it. I guess I worry about it less now. My contract’s over at the end of the year anyway. I guess you think about it even less.”

The Sox don’t need this. 

The Tigers were losing and are now headed for a rebuild. Farrell’s closing in on his second straight American League East title. 

Let’s assume he gets it. That's an impressive feat. Enough to be rewarded. At the same time, if all the side dramas — the Baltimore incident, David Price’s lack of self-control, even the embarrassment of the sign-stealing saga — are enough that Dombrowski still feels unsure, he should act.

Dombrowski, great talent evaluator that he is, should have a fully formed opinion on Farrell by now. 

Remember how silly everything looked last October when it came to Farrell's status?

Farrell spoke to the media at a Fenway Park press conference after the Sox were eliminated. Farrell was under contract through 2017 at that point, but had no answers about his job security, about whether he was coming back. 

Farrell’s press conference wrapped, and in walked Dombrowski for his segment with the media. Dombrowski announced that he had just told Farrell he was coming back for 2017 — in a conversation with Farrell in between press conferences.

Uh, OK? The scene was bizarre, to say the least. 

Then, it wasn’t until December that the Sox announced they picked up Farrell’s option through 2018.

The players and Farrell deserve a fuller answer this offseason. If Farrell is the guy, treat him like it and let the players know he’s the guy. Let a clubhouse that didn’t seem to have one band, one sound the whole year know who’s actually in charge. 

And if Farrell is not the guy, move on.

What the Red Sox should not do is stand pat and leave Farrell’s contract, which runs through next season, as is. They shouldn’t leave him and the team (and the media that will ask questions of both) in a constant state of wonder, with a lurking sense that Farrell could be out the door. They shouldn't leave themselves open to speculation Farrell's moves could be influenced by his job security.

The Sox could add just one more year to Farrell's deal again, but that'd be far from a vote of confidence. Is it Dombrowski’s intention to have Farrell sit on the hot seat annually?

Maybe in Dombrowski’s mind, there’s a particular playoff round Farrell and the Sox need to advance to for Farrell to stick around. Maybe two straight division titles is all he needed to see. We don't know. Whatever the criteria proves to be, it will be scrutinized. But the firmness of the decision is significant as well.

There’s so much the Sox have to deal with every year. Legitimacy of the manager is one area where the Sox have some control over the volume. Uncertainty is a dangerous theme song.

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

The Red Sox wanted to restore a bit of joy to our lives, but it looks like we'll have to settle for being mad about something other than the state of the world, which is its own form of escapism, I suppose.

Better than nothing.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Anyway, 10 games into the season, they haven't given us much to cheer, but they've provided plenty of reason to grimace.

From a mix of bad starting pitching to being forced to use openers, from seeing the team's vaunted offense not deliver out of the starting gates to the continuing slog of marathon games, there's no shortage of issues that the Sox are dealing with a sixth of the way through their schedule.

Here are 10 of the worst aspects of the Red Sox season through 10 games.

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

darwinzon_hernandez_josh_taylor.jpg
USA TODAY Sports photos

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

For two rookies who weren't on anyone's radar until about this time last year, Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have turned out to be massive losses for the Red Sox.

The two young power left-handers stabilized the bullpen over the final two months of 2019, with Hernandez striking out batters at a record rate and Taylor emerging as an every-other-day workhorse.

Hernandez struck out a staggering 57 in just 30.1 innings (16.9 K/9), with a 4.45 ERA. In 23 appearances from July 16 through Sept. 6, he posted a 2.31 ERA. Taylor, meanwhile, was even more consistent. He delivered a 3.04 ERA in 57 appearances, and from July 2 through the finale, allowed only eight runs in 40 innings.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Both feature 95-mph fastballs and both figured to play expanded roles in this truncated season, but when spring training 2.0 began in July, both were missing because of failed COVID tests. Taylor quarantined in his hotel near Fenway Park while battling fatigue. Hernandez remained in his native Venezuela for the first three weeks of July.

They're both now in Pawtucket, facing hitters for the first time in months. Each threw live BP over the weekend, and Taylor could be activated this week, manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday in New York.

The trickle-down effect has been significant. Roenicke has had little answer for innings two through five, relying on lesser arms like Austin Brice, Zack Godley, Matt Hall, and Jeffrey Springs either to serve as openers or bridge the gap to more established relievers like Marcus Walden, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, and closer Brandon Workman.

As a result, on the days Nathan Eovaldi doesn't start, the Red Sox have finished the fifth inning trailing by an average score of 5-2.

A healthy Hernandez and Taylor could alter that dynamic in two ways. First, one of them could start and contribute as an opener. Roenicke said the Red Sox are stretching out Hernandez to throw two or three innings, which would make him a more dynamic candidate for the role than some of the flotsam the Red Sox have been forced to feature in his absence.

But even if both remained relievers, they'd either be available to throw in the early innings instead of Springs (33.75 ERA) or Hall (15.43 ERA), or they could bump someone like Walden or Hembree down there. Ten games into the season, too many games have already been lost before Roenicke could even warm his better relievers.

With the lack of legitimate starting pitchers forcing Roenicke to finesse his way through four out of every five games, the Red Sox can ill afford to enter battle without their full complement of weapons. Who knew that two guys we had barely heard of early last season would end up being such pivotal missing pieces?