It’s easy to blame the manager. Especially when you start the season like the Boston Red Sox have in 2015.
Entering a weekend series in Texas, the Sox find themselves in the basement of the AL East. After finishing last season with a 71-91 record, the hope was that things would only get better this year.
So far, that is not the case. But don’t blame John Farrell.
Of course, when it looks like you’re on the verge of a second-straight losing season, picking apart your team is fair game. And make no mistake, Farrell hasn’t been perfect this season. Re: pitching to Nelson Cruz with first base open in the ninth two weeks ago and then paying for it moments later with a walkoff loss in Seattle.
He even admitted that was stupid. But it’s one game, one decision. This year’s problems have been far worse than that. Mainly because the biggest issues are talent-related, production-related.
Firing the manager in this specific case — which some have called for — would be nothing more than a “kick-in-the-behind” move, a wake-up call to the rest of the team, if you will. Problem is, the Red Sox have already made those type of moves this season, and we’re only two months in.
They fired pitching coach Juan Nieves on May 7, designated Edward Mujica for assignment and then traded him to Oakland for cash on May 10, yanked Justin Masterson from the rotation and put him on the DL on May 14 because he was brutal, and outrighted Allen Craig and removed him from the 40-man roster on May 18.
The message went from, “You’ve cost your pitching coach his job,” to, “You’ve cost yourself a spot on the roster.”
So should the next message be, “You’ve cost your manager his job?" Some think so. I am not one of them.
Because by now, GM Ben Cherington should get the message. This is all about talent, not the guy filling out the lineup card. The Sox are under .500 because they haven’t been able to hit and pitch at the same time. When the offense is hot, their starter can’t get out of the third inning. When they get a solid seven or eight innings out of their starter, the offense makes the opposing pitcher look like a Cy Young candidate. It’s infuriating.
Farrell is not the problem here. He can’t prevent Rick Porcello from hanging a juicy changeup middle-in in a one-run ballgame. He can’t shorten Hanley Ramirez’s swing for him as Ramirez tries to crush a slider low-and-away down the left-field line with a runner in scoring position. These are things the players must fix on the field, in the moment.
But if you ask me, regardless of what the batting order is moving forward, I do believe this offense will produce this season. The biggest question I have, and Cherington should too, is his rotation.
Either way, the Red Sox have a talent issue on their hands, and it’s up to the GM, not the manager, to fix it.
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