The 2015 season is over for the Boston Red Sox, but a major offseason decision was made before the last game was played. Despite a disappointing season, Dave Dombrowski has decided that the Boston Red Sox will retain John Farrell and Torey Lovullo. Rick Rowand takes a look at this decision and the structure of the Red Sox going forward.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…
On Thursday, October 1, Sean McAdam of CNNSE, broke the story that John Farrell would be back as the Manager of the Boston Red Sox if he were healthy. On Sunday, the Sox made it official prior to the game with Cleveland announcing that Farrell would be returning next year as the manager and, in a surprise move, that interim manager/bench coach had signed a 2-year agreement to stay on as the bench coach through 2017. Lovullo was signed through 2016 and he was sure to have interviews, and probably be hired, to be the manager of one of the many teams who will be looking for a new manager for 2016. As part of the deal, Lovullo agreed to not pursue any managerial jobs through the 2016 season. He also received a raise that will bring his salary in line with the “upper echelons of bench coaches”.
Farrell took a leave of absence on August 14 so that he could start treatment for lymphoma and ever since Dave Dombrowski was hired to be the President of Baseball Operations just four days later many speculated on whether Farrell would be retained for 2016.
Even before Dombrowski was hired people were calling for then GM, Ben Cherington, to fire Farrell because of the collective stupor that the team had been playing in most of the year and their 2014 record. I called for patience, putting the underperformance strictly on the shoulders of the players and on injuries. You can only play the players on the 25-man roster and with almost everyone underperforming there isn’t a lot you can do.
It wasn’t until around the same time that Farrell stepped down that the pitching and the offense started performing the way people expected them to that the team started turning things around. Napoli and Victorino were traded away. Hanley Ramirez was essentially put on the perpetual DL. Porcello came back from the DL. Kelly was brought back from Pawtucket. And the call ups, JBJ, Castillo, Shaw and Owens all played like their future with the team depended on it.
One thing that Dombrowski has shown that he values, in his brief tenure as the man in charge, is continuity. As of today he has retained, and even promoted, everyone in the front office except for Ben Cherington and Jared Porter, both of whom resigned. Cherington because he felt that he would be GM in name only and Porter to take a position with the Cubs. He promoted Mike Hazen to Senior Vice President/GM, promoted Brian Bannister to the new position of Director of Pitching Analysis and Development and promoted Chris Mears from scout to Pitching Cross-checker. And according to Rob Bradford, Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Allard Baird will also be staying with the team. The only outside person he’s brought on board so far is ex-GM Frank Wren as Senior Vice President of Operations. He will be heavily involved in scouting/player evaluation.
With a team like the Red Sox, with this many young players, too much change could easily be detrimental to their continued development, especially if the coaching staff was completely turned over. When the team announced the news about Farrell and Lovullo, the only other changes announced were that first base/outfield coach Arnie Beyeler and strength coach Pat Sandora would not be retained for 2016.
Farrell, Lovullo, pitching coach Carl Willis, hitting coach Chili Davis, assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, third base/infield coach Brian Butterfield and the rest of the staff certainly deserve the chance to finish what they started this season to see if the team continues to progress. I’m glad that Dombrowski is giving them the chance to do so.