NESN – “There certainly seemed to be something of a leadership void, and Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia admitted Monday that former Boston manager John Farrell was part of the reason the club didn’t seem to enjoy itself in 2017. “The overall approach, every day, would wear on guys. It wasn’t people not liking each other. We all love each other. Trust me,” Pedroia said Monday morning on WEEI’s “OMF.” “There’s the mindset of, ‘You show up to the yard, you put your work in, you have your approach that day, and you try to execute it. If you don’t, guess what? You’re going to show up tomorrow and still be in the lineup. We’re all going to have confidence in you. We’re all going to show up and try to win and accomplish the same thing.’ That’s what wore on guys and made the season that much more grueling — when everything that day was more magnified. It put a lot of pressure on our young guys, it put a lot of pressure on our veteran guys. That’s the part, when you hear Mookie (Betts) or (Xander Bogaerts) say they weren’t having much fun, you don’t ever have a chance to enjoy yourself if you don’t go 4-for-4, throw a complete game shutout, or we don’t win by 10. You don’t look ahead to the end of what we were trying to build for.”
Color me shocked. Dustin Pedroia came out and admitted on WEEI that last year sucked because John Farrell just beat guys down. It seems like his approach was just a grind on guys mentally. As much as we like to rail on players for whining and complaining, Boston may be the toughest city to play in the entire league so its important to manage that level of stress. This is where I’ve always been kind of disapointed though considering John Farrell came up in the Terry Francona school of management. Pedroia said guys were stressing because they were hyper focused on day to day success rather than building towards something bigger. If a guy didn’t hit the cover off the ball one day he’d be worried about getting moved down in the batting order or getting bumped from the lineup entirely. Farrell never really seemed as comfortable managing the Sox as we all thought he would be when Boston traded for him with Toronto.
— The 300s (@The300sBoston) August 14, 2017
Compare that to a manager like Francona who was infamous for sticking with his guys, almost to a fault. Anyone remember Mark Bellhorn? That guy was a goddamn enigma. In theory, a pretty solid player, but holy hell was he frustrating. Half the time he straight up SUCKED. He was a disaster in 2004 with his double ear flapped softball batting helmet.
He hit .264 with 177 strikeouts, which was 1st in the American League and 2nd in all of baseball. He did have a .373 OBP though! But Francona knew the guy could hit so he kept going with him day in and day out. Guess what? In the long run it paid off as Bellhorn had a HUGE 3-run HR in Game 6 of the ALCS to force Game 7 against the Yankees. Don’t remember? It was the one that smoked a guy sitting front row in the chest, but he was wearing all black so Matsui and those dirty Yankees tried to play it off like it hit the wall.
So theres definitely something to be said for consistency.
Everybody remembers Game 6 of the 04 ALCS for the legend that was Schilling’s bloody sock, but people forget that was also this game:
But, I digress.
As a manager you could also go the other way and tell these professional athletes to sack up. I mean if I have a few non-productive shitty days at my job, my employer is most likely going to chew me out. If you’re not performing the manager is well within his rights to sit you down. But, and I think this is what John Farrell’s biggest weakness was, if you’re going to do that you have to communicate why to the player. Build them up. Co-mmu-ni-cate. And that is where Farrell dropped the ball. The guy just did not have the social skills or the management skills or whatever you want to call it to relate to his players on a day to day basis. Not to beat a dead horse, but again Francona could call Pedroia in to play a game of cribbage and while the two are having a friendly competition Tito could tell him that he has sucked lately and is giving him a day off. Whether that was good news or whether that was bad news, Tito could communicate.
One of my favorite stories about Francona was how he would go out during batting practice every day and if he had to have a talk with someone he would bring them behind the backstop to chat. It was in the middle of everyone and completely public, but nobody could hear what they were saying except Tito and the player. So he was a master class in dealing with the players and their fragile egos and getting the best out of guys. Hell Francona could call a guy into his office while he was taking a dump and have a chat. I don’t really see that kind of comfort level existing between John Farrell and any of these Red Sox players. So the hope here is that Alex Cora is able to bring back that warm and fuzzy feeling back to the players. Maybe Cora won’t be sitting on the porcelain throne when he’s calling in Rafael Devers, but hey its only his first year on the job.