The Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced on Wednesday that John Farrell is out as the team’s manager. Farrell had lead the team to two consecutive division titles but also consecutive first-round knockouts, the most recent being to the Houston Astros.
Dombrowski did not comment on any specifics of the decision or whether or not the move would have been made if the Red Sox made it past the Astros in the Division Series. However, Farrell’s removal does seem to be an attempt to add a bit of freshness to the franchise, as television ratings primetime New England Sports Network events dropped by 15% since last year.
Referring to the apparent abruptness of the announcement, Dombrowski said, “It’s not a snap decision that says, ‘OK, we lost in the posteason.’ That is not by any means the case. To me, I think change is good for the organization and the manager’s position for the Boston Red Sox going into 2018.”
Upon being asked to elaborate, he said, “That’s really something I’m going to keep to myself. I’m not going to get into anything beyond that, other than a lot of different factors [were involved].”
Farrell issued a statement thanking the Red Sox’s front office, ownership group, coaches, players, and fans, in which he said,
Despite an end to this season that we all wanted to be different, I am proud of this ball club and the resiliency shown. I have enjoyed every moment of this job – its peaks and its valleys. There are few, if any, positions in life that create so much passion on a daily basis.
Rumors have circulated that longtime Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek might be in line for Farrell’s job, but he does not match the coaching experience Dombrowski feels is a necessary qualification for a manager to have. The two biggest possibilities for the Red Sox manager position are former Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Houston Astros bench coach Alex Cora.
Farrell’s five years in Boston was filled with some pretty radical ups and downs. Along with the two recent division titles, he also lead the team to a World Series championship in 2013. However, the team also experienced two last place finishes under Farrell. With a 432-378 overall record, he ranks sixth in wins all time among Red Sox managers and the only one to win three American League East division titles.
After being eliminated by the Astros on Monday, several Red Sox players spoke out in support of Farrell.
“He gave me every opportunity to succeed,” said starting pitcher Chris Sale, a likely candidate for the 2017 AL Cy Young award. “I can say the same for everybody on this team.”
Superstar right fielder Mookie Betts stated, “He’s done a great job in managing personalities and put us in a position to win. He listens to us, and he talks with us. Those dynamics he fits well.”
Dombrowski admitted that he does not ignore the difficulty that comes with managing one of sports’ most legendary teams, saying,
Managing is a tough job, period. I think it’s a tougher job here than maybe anywhere else. The scrutiny you receive — being in the game as long as I’ve been in the game, I’m amazed somewhat [by] the scrutiny aspect of it. And then when I look at the names behind [Farrell’s] desk, the number of pictures and how few guys have stayed a long time, it just shows you it’s a tough job.
Whoever does step in to the Red Sox manager’s position will have an equally tough task, especially given the immense divisional competition that comes in the form of an excellent young New York Yankees team that is shaping into a huge threat to all other teams in baseball.