Farrell opens up on variety of topics
John Farrell was the man of the hour on Tuesday, unveiled as the 46th manager in Red Sox history.
Here are some of the many topics he discussed.
Can the Red Sox contend in 2013? “I think a couple of things will need to happen. certain players return to the form and the performance that they’ve established for themselves and not just one-year situation. Guys who have estabilished a cereer path and a career recod of being above average and get the guys back who were taken out because of injury, to get them back fully healthy and then whatever additions are brought forward into this group. I think this has got an opportunity to be a fairly quick turnaournd and get to the point of contending next year.”
Where do thing stand with the coaching staff? “I wouldn’t say were really advanced. I would say we’ve got a number of names who are candidates for the roles that exist. Still determining the coaches who were here last year and will they continue to go forward. We’re probably in the third or fourth inning.”
How critical is the pitching coach hire? “Yeah, I think with any position, I think stablility is critical. I think it’s important to know for the pitching coach to know coming in this isn’t going to be a position, because so much has been brought out with the return here, that it’s not going to be micromanaged. Certainly there’s going to be involvement but that person needs the freedom to do his job and to the best of his ability. That’s why, to me, it’s important to get the most qualified pitching coach available and bring him in here.”
In essence, here was Farrell’s mission statement. “As far as what you can expect on the field, I truly believe that in an uptempo aggressive style of play. It will certainly take into account the strength of our roster. That’s a given. But I think to play that style of game, it does create an attitude, which I think is critical to win at the major league level, and that’s to be relentless. With our effort, with our preparation, with the work and the competitiveness that we take the field every night, that is of the utmost importance of how we play. So for the fans that will watch this team take the field, that’s, in some ways, a non negotiable as far as I look at it. our effort is controlled every night. It’s something we can control.
“And to give forth our best effort is a minimum. As far as dealing with players, I firmly believe that there’s an amount of professionalism that every player who comes to the big leagues and certainly would come to the Red Sox would have. That guides their preparation, their motivation, all those adjectives you can attest to it or attach to it. most importantly, because I’ve been here before, there will be no taking for granted that relationships exist. I will work my butt off to earn their trust, earn their respect and create an environment in that clubhouse that is just that. it’s a trusting that, it will be a learning one, and yes, it will be a competitive one and hopefully a very successful one at the same time. If that’s being described as a player’s manager, then maybe that’s what I am. That’s still forming. I’m still learning.
“But I feel, as I mentioned before, I’m in a much better place today than I was two years ago because of those experiences. And finally, my many conversations over the last few days with Ben, we do have a number of things we’ve got to take care of. First will be the staff to get that in place and that’s ongoing. We’ll have those updates as they become available. Just one note, on probably the attributes and the characteristics of the people that we would like to assemble here – they are guys that are going to be credible. They will have different sets of experiences. But the fact that they will have the players backs and interests in their minds, maybe their guide, will be a criteria that I’ll look to include in every guy that’s added to the staff. I think it’s critical that we work as a unity. There’s the ability to challenge once another and express opinions in that coach’s room and in our offices downstairs, but when we go out, we will be on the same page and working on one voice and I think that’s something that’s important to the overall approach of a club. We’re eager to get started and hit the ground running.”
Changing the culture in the clubhouse? “I can’t speak to what the Red Sox clubhouse was last year. I think it’s important that we communicate consistently to the players, we outline expectations and we have to hold players accountable to what we’re trying to get done. That’s leading people. At the same time, they have to have a voice in this to give their input. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a leader at the head or a rudder to guide the ship. But I think it’s important their inclusion is there. It has to be a positive place that they want to come to every single day.”
Things he learned from Toronto. “There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto, in my relationship with Alex and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately towards some suggestions or recommendations to the roster. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players. We created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs. Creating that environment and that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game. Maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker.”
What makes Boston so special? “One, I think Boston is in my mind and it may be debatable across the country, this is the epicenter of the game. To come in and have at least four years experience previous to, not having sat in this seat, but close to it to see the demands of this position and the passion of this region, the energy that’s in this ballpark every single night. That energy and what people expect holds our players accountable for the effort they put out every single night. Yes, there are some relationships still existing with some of the players here, but by no means will that be taken for granted. There’s familiarity, there’s an understanding maybe of the person I am and who they are, but it’ll be my approach to go back in — and it’s already started with conversations; I had a sitdown with David here earlier today — to start to earn his trust and regain and reestablish all those relationships.”
Helping to restore Lester, Buchholz, etc. “Setting aside Jon’s mention, setting aside Clay’s name, we all recognize how important pitching and particularly starting pitching. You look at every team that has advanced to the postseason, and let’s face it, that’s how we’re going to be measured, not if we get into the postseason, but how deep do we progress into the postseason. And it typically starts and ends with your starting rotation. So that is a priority. Not only with the returning guys, which I think is a very strong, core group, when you consider Jon, when you consider Felix, Clay, the return of John Lackey, that is going to be an important part of that. So there are things across the field .. There was a question before about across the field, what did you see some things differently? Yeah, from a pitching standpoint there were some very obvious things with Jon that he and I have already talked about that you saw with his delivery that he kind of drifted into that might have affected his overall consistency. You can’t underemphasize the importance of a starting rotation.”
On the separation between being a manager and pitching coach. “There’s demands during the day that are going to keep me from going down to the bullpen and working with a pitcher on his side day. Certainly my conversations with the pitching coach, whoever that becomes here, will happen naturally because of my background. That’s what happened in Toronto. It will be no different than a former catcher managing a club and talking to a hitting instructor or positional coach there. I see that dynamic being very comparable. The one thing I will be very clear with the pitchers here prior is that it becomes an open line of communication, and not to bypass that passing coach. There can be no confusion in message. The player is ultimately the one who loses out in that and then we ultimately lose out, because there’s the potential for confusion.
The Red Sox have their hands full. “There’s a list of to-dos, no question. But with the roster that’s there now, there’s a core group there that you can build around. Having a comfort level with Ben and Mike and Brian and BOH and everyone in baseball ops, there’s no communication barriers. There’s no reluctance to give a gut feel or an educated opinion on a given player, on a given combination of things that might currently or what we’re trying to achieve from a roster standpoint. But the game also fosters change, whether it’s through free agency or opportunity. It would be the same if I were able to assemble a coaching staff that would get opportunities elsewhere to become managers. We would champion that. That means we’re getting quality people and putting our players in the best environment to have success as well.
Getting Daniel Bard back on track. “We’ve exchanged a couple of text messages and voice mails. Before getting a chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn’t begin to say what the steps to adjustments might be. But I think we all recognize, it wasn’t too long ago that this might’ve been the best eighth inning reliever in baseball. He’s not injured. That gives you every reason to believe that he might regain that performance ability.”