As it is wont to do, the internet was overreacting and calling for the dismissal of manager John Farrell after two straight home losses. The Boston Red Sox started the season 3-2 before dropping their home opener and the game that followed to a red hot Baltimore Orioles team. Inconsistent pitching has been a problem so far this season, but when you carry over four starters from a rotation that struggled mightily last year, it is far from surprising that even an excellent offense is having trouble keeping up. Even still, it is too early this season to be calling for a manager’s dismissal and Rick Rowand responds to calls to fire Farrell.
Seriously, people? I mean… seriously? We’re doing this already?
On Wednesday afternoon the Red Sox had a 3-4 record and were getting prepared to play the Orioles in their third game at home. After splitting the rain-shortened opening series in Cleveland 1-1, the Sox took two of three in Toronto, losing the last game before coming home to Fenway and losing the opening two against the Orioles. A 3-2 team dropping two home games in a row should be no cause for panic, especially with a starting nine whose average age is only 28 and is averaging 5.7 runs a game. Take out Ortiz (40), Pedroia (32) and Ramirez (32) and the oldest starter is 27 (Holt!)
But if you were paying attention on Twitter yesterday, there were many Boston fans (you know, the smartest fans in baseball) who wanted Dave Dombrowski to bring them the head of John Farrell and install Torey Lovullo in his stead.
The comments made me laugh. Out loud even, such that some of my co-workers wanted to know what was so funny. There’s really nothing to do but laugh. The offense has been cruising. Farrell has the players he wants starting. Sandoval and Castillo have been on the bench and are now on the DL and in Pawtucket. He’s made a couple of questionable (to some, and defensible to others) moves. Pretty much just like every other manager out there.
The moves I questioned the most were pulling Shaw for Young to pinch hit a couple of times early in games, and not having Tommy Layne come into a game and instead calling upon Robbie Ross in the game against to Orioles. One of the Young-Shaw switches came back to rear its ugly head on Tuesday when Young, who is absolutely Francoeurian against right-handed pitching, was left in to face a righty in a big spot. His other option was to bring in Pablo Sandoval, who actually hits righties pretty well(.298). Farrell explained postgame that pulling Young for Sandoval would have limited his options later in the game, if further moves needed to be made.
Others have also complained that Hanigan has only played when Kelly has pitched. A legitimate complaint, until you remember both that the Sox have faced eight right handed starters in the first eight games, and that Swihart is a switch-hitter. The starters they’ve faced is also why Farrell has been calling upon Young fairly early.
The key problem, as it was last year, is the starting pitching – every member of the rotation has been inconsistent. Even Price, who started out well with two earned runs over six innings in Cleveland, didn’t perform to expectations in the home opener, giving up five earned over five innings. Buchholz was a disaster in his first start, yielding five earned runs in only four innings, and was pretty much the same Clay in his second. Kelly gave up seven earned runs in three innings out of the gate, but showed improvement in his second outing, with just 2 earned runs over five innings (behind 7 hits and 5 walks, so let’s hold back on the optimism). Porcello has four earned runs over six innings. “Staff ace” Steven Wright pitched well, though, giving up just one earned run in 6.2 innings.
Except for the Toronto series, the games have been outside in everything from the low- 30s to the mid-40’s. Two of the series have been against the best offenses in baseball, and the Sox even took one of those! If you were expecting a league-leading team ERA in mid-April, your expectations needed some adjusting, so why don’t we all agree to hold off on the calls to fire Farrell until at least 30 games have passed? . For now, let’s just all be happy the Sox manager isn’t named Fredi Gonzalez. And, hey, look! Clueless Farrell’s team is back sitting at .500. For now.