BOSTON Mike Hazen was an intern in the Indians scouting department when John Farrell was hired as the organizations farm director in 2001.
The way he walks into a room, said Hazen, now Red Sox assistant general manager, when asked of his first impression of Farrell. The commanding presence, his intelligence, his ability to communicate a message.
Commanded a tremendous amount of respect, intelligent, held his staff accountable, held his players accountable, developed a system, a philosophy. While it was developed there he oversaw it, took it over, and really probably sowed the seeds for that 2007 Indians team that we faced in the LCS.
All of that, along with Farrell's experience and familiarity with the Red Sox, went into his selection as the teams new manager. But Hazen didnt initially see him as a future manager. He had another job in mind for Farrell.
GM, Hazen said. But when I got over here some of the conversations that we had, knowing that he had a desire to get on the field as well, and then as a pitching coach and certainly he had a tremendous amount of talent and ability to do that as well. You could see he could probably do anything he wants in the game. Thats what makes him pretty unique in this situation.
Farrell was the Sox pitching coach for four seasons, from 2007-2010, before leaving to manage the Blue Jays for two seasons. The Sox attempted to hire him away from the Blue Jays last year, after Terry Francona was fired following the collapse of September 2011. But the Sox advances were rebuffed by the Jays. This time, though, they were not turned away.
Its gratifying to have Farrell back in the organization, Hazen said, but that was not why they got him.
Look, this is a business, said Hazen. Its not about personal gratification in any way shape or form. Johns the right man to be the manager of the Red Sox. Its great because I've known him for so long and I think thats important. Its not gratification. Its the comfort knowing that we can start right in having the conversations that we need to have, knowing that in order for this to turn around theres a lot of tough questions that need to be asked by the manager to the front office and so on down the line.
Knowing that everyone is on the same page is vital because, for the second consecutive offseason, the Sox will be attempting to turn the page on a season.
I think its important. I think more than anything else, Hazen said. I think the conversations that have to happen are taking place right away, and not the easy conversations either. The tough conversations, mining down through exactly what happened to get us where we were last year. And that may be questioning roster decisions, the current state of the roster, player performance, role of the coaching staff, all of the things from the teaching aspect of it to the contributions of the farm system or lack thereof that went into last season.
Its extremely important for us to be able to turn the page on 2012 and for John to be able to start having those conversations and those challenging conversations, I think its only going to help us.
While there has been tremendous turnover on the roster since Farrell was last in a Red Sox uniform, there is still a core group of players from his tenure -- Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and free agent David Ortiz who is discussing a return with the Red Sox. That familiarity will help Farrell launch his new role.
Im assuming the conversations that John is having with the players right now, that hes having with GM Ben Cherington and us right now take a different tone when you have that prior relationship," Hazen said. "Theres not a lot of getting to know or wondering what the other persons thinking. Look, thats not going to translate into wins but it can definitely start the process of evaluations and where were at today, which is not where we want to be.
And the Red Sox will have a lot of work to do on their roster this offseason. Hazen and Cherington will be looking to Farrell for input on those kinds of decisions.
A lot, not necessarily in the ability to pull the trigger on something but certainly in his contacts and evaluation from across the field, his makeup information, what he knows about that player, is that player one that has the ability to come play in Boston, Hazen said. Those are key components to a lot of the evaluation.