I vividly remember the 2011 season, when the Red Sox famously collapsed coming down the stretch to miss the playoffs. Yankees fans refused to hear, let alone listen to any sentiment that even hinted at any sort of positivity with regards to the 2011 Red Sox season. In didn’t matter that the Red Sox were 81-40 – one of the highest winning percentages in baseball history over a 120+ game stretch – through more than 3/4 of the season. Nope, it just didn’t matter.
I’m happy to say that in the last week, the tides have begun to turn.
The Yankees first place finish, fancy record, and all of their superstars are no longer seen in the positive light they should be – now the negativity is all the focus. It’s not just Red Sox fans looking at the Yankees this way – it’s seemingly the whole country. Following arguably the worst offensive performance in ALCS history, the Yankees are is disarray. They weren’t not clutch; they were pitiful. The highest paid player in MLB history suddenly needs to be moved and is flirting with girls in the stands during playoff games. Bros throughout New York who have for years worshipped Nick Swisher are now calling for his head. Curtis Granderson’s 43 home runs suddenly don’t matter, but his .232 average and 195 strikeouts do. Derrick Jeter and Mariano Riveria are old as dirt, just two of the veterans on the oldest roster in baseball.
What are the Yankees to do? I don’t know, but I’m happy to say that their biggest division rival has taken a significant step towards righting their own ship. John Farrell is coming back to Boston, and yes, he is the right man to lead a rebuilding Red Sox franchise.
Let’s start by getting a few things straight – John Farrell is not Terry Francona. He’s not as charismatic, he’s not a “players manager” to the extent that Tito was. But he is a guy that’s respected by the veterans, who can handle pitchers, and who is solid at evaluating talent. While Farrell had some mixed results in his years managing Toronto, it should be noted that other teams were quick to gobble him up and make him a big league manager – the Red Sox aren’t the only ones that see something in this guy. Perhaps more importantly, Farrell served as the Director of Player Development for the Cleveland Indians from 2001 to 2006. In 2003 and 2004 Cleveland would be voted the “Organization of the Year” by Sports Weekly. In 2003 the same publication voted Cleveland as having the best farm system in baseball.
Don’t get me wrong – John Farrell is no savior, and I don’t think he’ll ever be what Terry Francona was to the organization. But that’s also not a fair comparison. What I do think Farrell will bring is stability, a bit more rigidity, and an eye for evaluating young talent – which is exactly what the Red Sox need. He’ll also immediately garner the respect that Bobby Valentine never could.
All in all, Mike Aviles is a solid infielder but I’m happy to sacrifice him to bring in this much more important piece of the puzzle. Red Sox rebuilding? So far, so good.