If you had told me before the season that the Boston Red Sox would be playing a game in 2017 with Chris Young as their designated hitter in the cleanup spot, I’d tell you they’re in some serious trouble.
Well, we saw Young in that role in the fifth game of the season, this past Sunday in Detroit. The Red Sox won that game, 7-5. Young was the DH, hitting fourth, and went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored.
Having Young in that spot was not necessarily by choice. I mean, sure, Red Sox manager John Farrell filled out the lineup card and put him there, but it’s not like he had many other options. They were facing a lefty, so Young was bumped up in the lineup to hit behind Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez was out with the flu. Xander Bogaerts was on the bereavement list, Jackie Bradley Jr. injured his knee in the previous game, and of course, David Ortiz retired.
When you can still be a .500 team or above while dealing with all the issues the Red Sox have dealt with in the first week-and-a-half of this season, it’s time to acknowledge
the people who’ve helped weather the storm.
Like it or not, one of them is Farrell.
I’m not saying he deserves to be awarded “Manager of the Year” in mid-April. I just can’t help but think how many would be reacting if things were trending in the complete opposite direction.
Had the Red Sox been 100 percent this season and were a losing ball club, there’s no doubt Farrell would be getting dragged to Logan airport by every Twitter-GM and sports-radio caller in town. They’d want him fired, claiming he’s just not the right guy for the job.
Turns out, he’s been good enough during a time in which the organization couldn’t create more roster instability if they tried. Between illnesses, injuries, and deaths in the family, the Red Sox have had it all.
Ramirez, Bogaerts, and Bradley Jr. haven’t been the only players missing time. Mookie Betts also missed three games with the flu, while reliever Robbie Ross Jr. has been on the DL with the flu since April 6. On top of all that, David Price began the season on the DL with an elbow injury, Matt Barnes missed two games on the bereavement list, new reliever Tyler Thornburg began the season on the DL, and Carson Smith is still trying to work his way back from Tommy John surgery.
And did I mention that Ortiz is no longer playing baseball?
Had none of these issues existed — even without Ortiz — and the Red Sox were struggling out of the gate, Farrell would be getting run out of town by mostly everyone outside of the offices at Yawkey Way.
All I’m saying is, when that same manager ends up winning more games than he probably should with a depleted roster, to the point where he has to start “who the hell is” Steve Selsky in center field and Chris Young in the cleanup spot, it’s time to start giving the guy some credit.
He’s not a perfect manager, and he’s certainly not the best. But I think we can all agree that things could be a lot worse to begin the season, given all the pieces they’ve been missing.
Perhaps guys like Rick Porcello or Chris Sale or Sandy Leon or Andrew Benintendi deserve most of that credit for keeping the ship afloat. But even if those guys struggled through the first week-and-a-half of the season, they wouldn’t be taking most of the heat. The manager would.
So if you’re going to take time to acknowledge those who helped weather the early-season storm, make sure you don’t forget about Farrell.