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Monday, October 22, 2012
Roundup: Local reaction to Farrell

By Gordon Edes

A sampling of opinion in New England on John Farrell’s hiring by the Red Sox:

* JimBo Sox 9, Sonsofsamhorn.net: “This is the first time I've felt like the team successfully executed a play in a long, long time. There was a sensible interview process, the negotiations with Toronto and Farrell were largely un-leaked, and the compensation is reasonable. It feels refreshing. Despite the recent Farrell backlash here and on a subset of WEEI, the team controlled and won a news cycle.

"The key for JF is to get everyone on the same page and control the clubhouse. A Belichickian approach is impossible in a sport where the drama plays out live daily, but he has to crush the idea that it’s OK to air dirty laundry via the media. If he leads by example and refrains from doing it himself, along with the clear synergy and backing he should have from the FO, this should be achievable. Count me with those who believe this matters - fighting in the papers and having to answer questions about stupid BS day after day is the grease on the slide for a team starting to go downhill."

* Bill Simmons, Grantland (tweet from @sportsguy33): “I’m excited about the Red Sox getting John Farrell - he has plenty of experience leading 75-win teams, he's perfect.”

* Brendan O’Toole, Over the Monster: "This is the most likely rationale, really. John Farrell's a known quantity to the front office and the players. It's clear that they trust him, and that the players (most of them, anyway) respect him. Ben Cherington's worked with Farrell, as has most of the front office and the current coaching staff. Sure, he hasn't had to make the big in-game decisions here, nor has he had to face the ravenous media horde alone, but he's proven to be reliable and predictable.

The Sox collapsed without warning in 2011, and tales of clubhouse dissent exploded across local sports pages. To a team in disarray was added Bobby Valentine, which turned out... Well, honestly worse than I think anyone really expected, even those who thought it wouldn't work. Farrell appears to be everything Valentine isn't: quiet, cliche-friendly, and familiar to the people he's going to work with. That alone is probably worth the extra premium Boston paid to get him. Now the Sox are truly rebuilding, something they haven't had to do in years. Any of the other men interviewed would very likely have been terrific managers here. But there's something to be said for going back to the familiar when the road ahead isn't familiar at all."

* Ron Chimelis, The (Springfield) Republican: There is great excitement in trying to recapture the glory of the good old days, and great risk as well.

"It's like going to the class reunion and trying to hook up with your old high school flame.

"If it clicks, it's magical. If not, it can be really awkward, really embarrassing and a generally bad idea.

"By hiring John Farrell as their manager, the Red Sox are willing to take the risk in pursuit of the rewards."

* Alex Speier, WEEI.com: "It’s the pitching, stupid.

"That variation on an election theme that is now two decades old looms over the Red Sox’ offseason. In light of the managerial hiring that became official Sunday, it is impossible to overlook the centrality of the need by the Sox to upgrade their pitching staff if they hope to return to contention anytime soon.

"John Farrell was hired because the Red Sox are convinced that he is a leader capable of commanding the respect of an entire clubhouse. His years overseeing hundreds of prospects in the Indians farm system prepared him to connect with the complete spectrum of players, regardless of personalities, skill sets or position.

"Nonetheless, the fact that he arrives as Red Sox manager with an unquestioned ability to govern the team’s pitching staff -- and that he was present for the best performances turned in by several of the team’s pitchers, including the four returning starters -- represents a noteworthy consideration."

* Tim Britton, Providence Journal: "The belief in Boston is that Farrell is the right fit right now. His background as a pitching coach qualifies him to handle what has become the team’s biggest weakness since he left two years ago. His years in player development should leave him equipped to handle the roster turnover expected when the next wave of prospects arrives at the big-league level within the next two years.

"Those qualities made him Cherington’s first choice despite his pedestrian 154-170 record in two seasons with the Blue Jays."

* Dan Roche, WBZ-TV4: "The Red Sox wanted John Farrell to be the next Red Sox manager for a long time and they finally got their wish. Farrell, the Sox pitching coach from 2007-10 here in Boston, has a lot of good qualities as he takes over for Bobby Valentine.

"First of all, he has experience in this tough market. Farrell watched Terry Francona go through the job for four seasons (and offseasons). He saw the ups and the downs, the dealings with Sox ownership, the front office, the coaches, the players and the media. He learned.

"Talk to John Farrell for just a few minutes and you can’t help but come away impressed. He knows the game, but he also knows how to deal with people. He’s easy to trust. He can be stern with the players when he needs to, but he also seems to know when to wrap his arm around a guy and encourage him."