After five years of near constant scrutiny, which never went away despite three division titles and a World Series, John Farrell is out as Red Sox manager.
He was fired on Wednesday, two days after the Red Sox lost in the division series for the second year in a row.
Farrell’s tenure began with a championship and it ended with back-to-back division titles, something no manager in franchise history had ever accomplished, but in between were two losing seasons and persistent questions about his job security. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi, who ultimately fired Farrell, had not hired him. Dombrowski inherited Farrell as manager when he took over the front office in 2015.
Last winter, Dombrowski picked up Farrell’s option to manage in 2018, citing the value of stability, but it seems a second straight division series disappointment was not the type of stability he had in mind.
Dombrowski was scheduled to speak about Farrell’s dismissal late this morning.
After Monday’s elimination, Farrell was asked whether he could manage the Red Sox over this division series hump.
“Personally, yes, I feel confident in that,” he said. “I know that we have got opportunity to assess where we are as a team. I can’t begin to talk about what the offseason plans are and what the changes may be realized, but still there’s a lot of good things that are going on here.”
During his five years, Farrell went 432-378 as Red Sox manager. His wins are the sixth-most in franchise history, ranking behind only Terry Francona as the team’s most successful manager of the past 50 years.
Farrell is the only Red Sox manager to win three division titles. He won a World Series in 2013 when he took over as manager following the disastrous 2012 season of Bobby Valentine. He also served as pitching coach from 2007 to 2010, putting him on the bench for three more trips to the postseason and one more World Series championship.
“I thought John did a great job,” Dustin Pedroia said on Monday. “We won the division. There was never any quit in this team. I’m proud of everybody in here. We dealt with a lot and our fight continued every single day. I know we didn’t achieve our goals, but I’m proud of how everybody went about their business and showed up for everybody and played to win.”
Like most managers, Farrell’s in-game decision making was regular fodder for second guessing on social media and talk radio. His bullpen management and lineup construction were questioned to the very end when he benched Hanley Ramirez for Game 1 of the division series and stuck with Chris Sale one inning too long in Game 4.
But in the past year, Farrell also became a focal point for the Red Sox’ unusual clubhouse dynamic. As David Price battled with the media, he referred to Farrell as “Manager John” on Twitter, and Farrell did little to quell Price’s confrontational stance against Hall of Fame pitcher and NESN broadcaster Dennis Eckersley.
In May, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal cited sources saying, “Some players, but not all, believe that (Farrell) does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling.”
During 2016 spring training, CSN New England reporter Jessica Moran resigned amid reports that she and Farrell were involved in an extramarital affair. Farrell wound up divorced.
Even so, as recently as September 30, Dombrowski praised Farrell’s ability to weather the storm and lead the team.
“I think he’s done a great job,” Dombrowski said. “It’s a tough job. Managing is a tough job, period. I think it’s a tougher job here than maybe anywhere else (because of) the scrutiny you receive. Being in the game as long as I’ve been in the game, I’m amazed somewhat the scrutiny aspect of it. And then when I look at the names behind his desk (of past Red Sox manager), the number of pictures and how few guys have stayed a long time — it just shows you it’s a tough job. He’s done a great job. He’s a tough guy. He’s a smart baseball man.”
John Farrell fired by Red Sox – Boston Herald