Farrell’s Failures

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(Photo by: Joy R. Absalon, USA Today Sports)

Red Sox Nation has had about a week to digest the surprising and heartbreaking loss at the hands of the dinged-up Cleveland Indians, but the bad news did not stop there. No, the day after getting swept in the American League Division Series, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, announced that John Farrell and his entire staff would be returning for the 2017 Season. Many Red Sox fans were greatly upset by this news, as John Farrell made numerous mistakes that even a casual baseball fan could recognize as completely idiotic. Furthermore, there is tangible evidence and specific examples that illustrate Farrell’s ineptitude. On baseballreference.com, there is a stat called Pythagorean Win-Loss. This stat gives an analytical prediction of what a team’s record should be considering runs scored and runs allowed, and according to Pythagorean Win-Loss, the 2016 Boston Red Sox should have won 98 games, five more than they actually did win. So where did those wins go? Well, after looking through some games, I have found five individual games where John Farrell’s incompetence was on full display, mainly in the eighth inning. So without further adieu, here are five games where John Farrell cost the Red Sox wins, and maybe home-field advantage, throughout the MLB Playoffs:

April 18 vs. Toronto Blue Jays: The first notable Farrell mistake occurred on Marathon Monday, as the Red Sox clinged to a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth inning. To start the inning, Farrell put in Koji Uehara who had pitched very well in all of his prior outings to start the season. However, at the age of 41, it was important to keep a leash on Uehara, especially against a potent lineup like Toronto’s. Kevin Pillar lead off the inning with an infield hit and reached second on an error by Josh Rutledge. After walking pinch hitter Justin Smoak, and allowing two runners to advance on a passed ball, Uehara was not pulled and was left in to face the dangerous duo of Josh Donaldson and José Bautista, whom Uehara hit with a pitch and walked. Farrell did not pull the 41 year old Uehara until one run was in and the bases were loaded with Edwin Encarnación and Troy Tulowitzki up. The Sox lost 4-1. In a close divisional game, managers need to manage their bullpen very carefully, and Farrell did not see that Uehara was fatigued and ineffective until the damage was done.

May 26 vs Colorado Rockies: What do you do when you have a young player with a 29-game hitting streak who had never batted higher in the order than sixth? You move him up to the leadoff spot for the first time in three years, according to John Farrell’s skewed logic. Through his first three seasons in the MLB, Jackie Bradley Jr. looked completely lost at the plate, excluding the month of August in 2015. 2016 marked a new year, and it appeared that Jackie Bradley Jr. had figured it out. Going into May 26th, Bradley was batting a scorching .350, but John Farrell tried to get too cute and batted Bradley leadoff. Bradley ensued to go 0-4, ending his hitting streak. This mistake for Farrell goes further than just one game. Since the streak ended, Bradley batted .234. While Bradley’s overall numbers in 2016 were a pleasant surprise, imagine if Farrell left him in the nine-hole all season where he batted .341. Not to mention, the Red Sox also lost this game, 8 -2.

August 2 at Seattle Mariners: The game was in the eighth inning, and David Price was cruising, shutting out the Mariners through seven, and he looked like he was turning his 2016 campaign around until Mike Zunino lead of the inning with a solo home run. Then, Leonys Martín singled, which should have prompted Farrell to pull Price from the game. Of course, the Red Sox skipper allowed Price to stay in the game and give up two more hits to a couple of less-than-stellar hitters. Finally, after two runs and four consecutive hits, Farrell calls to the bullpen for Matt Barnes who struck out the only batter he faced. Next up was the dangerous Robinson Canó, who Farrell tried to neutralize with the newly acquired Fernando Abad. While the lefty-on-lefty matchup looked favorable, it was not wise to stick the newly acquired bullpen arm in a high-leverage situation against one of the fiercest hitters in baseball, who ended up hitting a home run. While putting in Abad was questionable, Farrell’s mistake was not recognizing that David Price was out of gas, and he left him in too long. The Sox lost this heartbreaker, 5-4.

August 18 at Detroit Tigers: After a losing skid, the Red Sox looked to continue a six-game win streak against the Detroit Tigers on the road. In the top of the eighth, the Red Sox busted a 1-1 tie to take a 3-1 lead going into the bottom-half of the inning. However, Farrell foiled a hard-fought, gritty win by putting in Junichi Tazawa instead of Brad Ziegler to start the inning. Tazawa went on to allow a single to Ian Kinsler, a double to Erick Aybar, and then remained in the game to face superstar Miguel Cabrera who singled in a run. Farrell finally had the wits to put in Ziegler, but the damage was already done. Ziegler almost kept the game tied, but walked Andrew Romine to allow the winning run. Many believe that if Ziegler had a clean inning, the Red Sox would have won that game. Tazawa, on the other hand, possessed a 9.64 ERA in August and had no business being put into the game. Farrell’s instincts failed him, and it cost his team a win. The final score was 4-3 in favor of the Tigers.

August 24 at Tampa Bay Rays: The final and most recent game on this list follows a similar pattern: John Farrell’s inability to effectively manage the eighth inning of a baseball game. In the game against the Rays, Rick Porcello, the ace of the Red Sox staff, did not have his best stuff to begin with, but he forged ahead giving up only two runs through seven innings. However, Farrell, with no judgement of fatigue, kept Porcello in the game to see him give up a meatball to Evan Longoria. Making it even even worse, Farrell kept Porcello in to face left-hander Brad Miller, who hit eight home runs in the month of August and 27 out of his 30 homers against righties. Luckily the Sox dodged a bullet, and Miller hit a deep fly ball to the warning track. The Red Sox went on to lose in the 11th inning after pitcher Heath Hembree made two errors on one play, allowing the Rays to walk off.

Overall, John Farrell exhibited that he has no idea how to gauge a game, and his downfall throughout the season had been the eighth inning. Who knows, maybe the Red Sox would be in the ALCS right now if their manager could analyze a situation with any semblance of intelligence.

By Joe Spinosa

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