There’s still one thing you can take to the bank. When the Red Sox fire the manager, it’s big news.
The Sox did it again Wednesday. Two days after Dustin Pedroia grounded out to second base to put the final period on the 2017 baseball season, the organization summoned Farrell to the inner sanctum and let him go.
Right off the bat, let’s say this: someone’s dismissal is 99 percent of the time nothing to celebrate, and no matter how much you may disagree with some of the things he did and said, Farrell deserves the dignity of not having the end of his tenure celebrated as V-J day.
Still, despite two 90-plus win season, and two trips to the American League playoffs, there was something severely lacking in this team. Just when it should have been primed and ready for the challenge of winning a world championship, it came up empty and wilted in the first round.
You cannot say the organization didn’t give him the tools. Two years ago, it signed pitcher David Price to an outrageous $26 million contract; and last winter the club traded for Chris Sale. By anyone’s estimation, that’s two of the game’s best left-handed pitchers on the same club.
Aside from Price and Sale, the Red Sox had the game’s reigning Cy Young Award winner, Rick Porcello, on the starting staff; and had lights-out closer Craig Kimbrel in the bullpen.
Moreover, the Red Sox had developed some of the game’s best talent in the last three years, players such as Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts.
While nobody could have estimated the ultimate effect of losing slugger David Ortiz and his 39 homers in 2016 to retirement, the club had a reasonable expectation that production from the rest of the troops would do a better job picking up the slack. But collectively the players came up short.
How much of this was directly attributable to Farrell is, of course, a subjective viewpoint. He doesn’t swing the bat. He didn’t completely cough up any chance the Red Sox had of winning Game 4 of the playoffs the way Kimbrel did.
But for a team that won 93 games, there was at times a remarkable lack of urgency. Farrell accepted baserunning gaffes too easily, often looking as if he was complimenting the aggression of his players instead of reprimanding them for pulling boulder-sized rocks.
Compare him with the bloodless Bill Belichick, who will take a rookie out of the game, leave him on the bench, and make him walk around with a football in his arms, if he even fumbles once.
There was also a maddening lack of willingness, or ability, to do anything other than wait for the home runs that never came. I lost count of how many times the Red Sox were in a position to score runs late in games — runs that could have either resulted in victories or ended marathon games earlier — and couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to get them across. He absolutely refused to bunt the ball in these cases, and in the times anyone tried, he failed miserably.
That’s fine if you have the power to offset it. But these guys didn’t.
Finally, there’s the incident that pretty much defined the Red Sox season — the verbal broadside Price launched on Dennis Eckersley. Farrell disappeared almost entirely, provided no leadership, did nothing to show Price the error of his ways, as if he was afraid of the pitcher.
There will be a sizable group of people who claim the Red Sox fed Farrell to the wolves to scratch a PR itch. And there will be another sizable contingent that has blamed Farrell, and will continue to blame him, for everything up to and including halitosis and the heartbreak of psoriasis.
But unfortunately, in Boston you’re under the microscope 24/7. When you sign the contract, you sign up for the scrutiny that goes with it. Managers are hired to be fired.
And Wednesday, the job claimed another victim.