BOSTON The Red Sox had their sights set on John Farrell as a potential manager even before he joined the organization as pitching coach in 2007. General manager Ben Cherington and assistant general manager Mike Hazen had known Farrell for years, were familiar with him and his skill set, and were comfortable that he would be the right person for the job.
They tried to get him from Toronto a year ago, after Terry Francona was fired following the collapse of 2011. But, when the Blue Jays requested right-hander Clay Buchholz in return, the Sox closed the window and turned their sights elsewhere.
But when the debacle of 2012 and the disastrous tenure of Bobby Valentine ended, the Sox again looked to the north. This time they were not denied, getting Farrell in exchange for infielder Mike Aviles.
But Farrells tenure in Toronto was not without its controversies. In two seasons leading the Blue Jays he compiled a combined record of 154-170, finishing in fourth place in the American League East each year. Only the Sox disaster of 2012 saved him from finishing in last place in the division.
Farrell said he learned from his experience with the Jays, from game management to dealing with players.
There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto in my relationship with general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, I think there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately toward some suggestions or recommendations to the roster, Farrell said. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players and we created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs.
"So creating that environment, that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game and maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker."
But the criticisms were not limited to his game-management decisions. In September, shortstop Yunel Escobar played a game against the Red Sox wearing eye black with a homophobic slur written in Spanish. Later that month, veteran Omar Vizquel questioned Farrells communication with staff and players and his direction of young players.
I think there are going to be situations that arise with any club and how you deal with them, Farrell said. Again, establishing that trusting environment and if that trust is breached, thats where I chose to deal with players in one-on-one situations in my office and then teaching settings came out of that, as far as the decision-making maybe on the basepaths.
In the terms of the other situations and with Escobars eye black situation, theres a minimum amount of professionalism that is expected and I would suspect that his teammates would have said something to him. But the fact that is he wrote some things on his eye black on a number of occasions, never once was it malicious of my understanding and to think that he had written something that was offensive to a large portion of the population, you know what, it was wrong. And he paid the price in terms of discipline on that.
The other comments, you know what, they might not have been fully informed as a result of the way some of the discipline is handled. So people are going to have their opinions. But by no means should that suggest that a clubhouse is a free-for-all by any means.
None of that shook the Sox confidence in Farrell.
What Im looking for in a manager is someone who can make sure that players that we have are getting everything that we need every day, taking advantage of all the resources, and ultimately that were prepared to play, said general manager Ben Cherington. Theres a lot that goes into that. Theres teaching that goes into that, preparation, game-planning that goes into that. Ultimately its on me and us, the organization, to build a roster that then leads to wins.
The managers job is to get the most out of the roster thats given to him and clearly based on our performance this year we need to do a better job of building a roster so that not just John but the entire organization benefits and our fans get what they deserve. So that work is going to continue to go on. Its been going on this month. Its going to go on all offseason. Its not going to stop in spring training.
I believe John is the right person to make sure that once the rosters together and we hit spring training, that every players given the best opportunity possible to succeed and ultimately our team had the best opportunities.