With the Red Sox being eliminated by the Astros in Game 4 of the ALDS, the question stirs, will John Farrell lead this team in 2018?
The Boston Red Sox season has come to an end, in a 5-4 win by the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the ALDS. There were many decisions that could’ve been made differently, but in the moment when you only have seconds or maybe a couple minutes, you go with your gut.
Chris Sale shouldn’t have stayed for the eighth inning. It’s clear that he is a better pitcher than Addison Reed, and he was getting outs quick. What many people didn’t see was that his accuracy got very inaccurate in the seventh inning. He pitched four scoreless innings, which got them to the eighth.
At the trade deadline back in July, we acquired Addison Reed as a set-up man for our closer, Craig Kimbrel. When Sale shut down the Astros in the seventh, Reed was in the bullpen. It made sense to keep Sale in as he is Chris Sale. The man who got 300 strikeouts in the regular season. Why wouldn’t you go with him?
You don’t go with Sale because you acquired the eighth inning man, but John Farrell doesn’t trust him because of one bad outing. Addison Reed has been specifically trained and taught to be the eighth inning man. So it makes sense to use him in the eighth inning when there is a one-run lead.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox staff disregarded Reed, who was warmed up in the bullpen and kept Sale in. Sale gave up a solo home run to tie the game. After that, Kimbrel came in and gave up two runs between the eighth and ninth innings.
Another major mistake that John Farrell made was that our two recent power hitters, Hanley Ramirez and Rafael Devers didn’t start together until Game 3. After two games and being outscored 16-4, Farrell put his two heavy hitters in the same starting line up. It was Game 3 that the two were paired in the starting line up and the Red Sox won 10-3 demolishing the Astros. Devers went 2-3 with three RBIs and two runs. Hanley was 4-4 with three RBIs as well. Between the two, they produced six of the ten runs scored by the Sox. Andrew Benintendi stepped up in Game 4 yesterday with a two-run home run.
The Red Sox sending Mitch Moreland home from second base was probably one of the biggest mistakes besides Farrell’s ejection. Mitch Moreland was playing with a broken toe recently. That was a known issue, along with an ailing knee that he discussed after the game. He had to compensate for the toe, which was hurting his knee. Even at 100%, Mitch Moreland is not one of the faster players on the roster. He’s no Doug Mirabelli, but he also isn’t a Dave Roberts. So with knowledge of those injuries, they sent him running home to be thrown out by four steps by Marwin Gonzalez on a bloop single into shallow left field.
Good managers don’t get ejected in a postseason game where you have a one-run lead. That is exactly what John Farrell did. In the bottom of the second, Pedroia started an what can be imagined as an unpleasant conversation with the home plate umpire about some called strikes. As it got heated, Farrell came out, got Pedroia out of the way and resumed the conversation where Pedey had left off. That resulted in his ejection.
When you are on the verge of elimination, in Game 4 of the ALDS and you have a one-run lead, you absolutely cannot be ejected for arguing balls and strikes. The team needs their manager in the dugout whether they’re making mistakes or not.
John Farrell’s job is in extreme jeopardy. He is on the hot seat with fans calling for his removal not just because of the playoffs, but over the course of the season, Farrell showed everyone that he is not the smartest person in that dugout. There were many base running mistakes, called by Farrell to be made. He also continued to hit Mookie Betts lead-off which meant that one of, if not the Red Sox most dangerous hitters up to bat first with no one on, and following the worst hitters in the lineup when it turns over 8 and 9 to 1.
The fan base in Boston across sports doesn’t stand for a lack of titles, banners and trophies. When it isn’t happening when it should, they want change. Whether it be players, coaches or owners. In my lifetime, Theo Epstein and Terry Francona is the best GM/Head Coach combination that the Red Sox ever had. Dombrowski has been successful, but he appears so disconnected from the games, unlike Theo who looked as though he was going to have people’s heads when the Sox were down.
Now, the Red Sox organization has to figure out what changes to make to the team to get them past the ALDS and back into the World Series. The one thing that definitely does NOT need to be changed is the pitching. Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz and Porcello make a solid four-deep rotation. After Porcello you have Doug Fister, or a returned Steven Wright. The bullpen was the one of the best in the MLB throughout the season. Dave Dombrowksi does NOT need to touch the pitching staff.
The Red Sox need a solid, reliable power hitter. Fenway Park is where half of their games are played every year, and it is a hitter’s park. The left field line is 310 feet. At the end of the Green Monster, it is 370 feet. Deep center field is 420 feet but the right field line shrinks over 100 feet dropping back down to 302 feet at Peksy’s Pole.
David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Mo Vaughn, Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, ‘Yaz’ and Ted Williams were some of the Red Sox’s greatest power hitters. When the Red Sox were successful, they had power hitters. Hanley and Mookie are not currently reliable power hitters. There is a player that is surrounded by trade rumors who hits a lot of home runs. That man is Giancarlo Stanton. The Miami Marlins outfielder who hit 59 home runs this season has a large contract, that new owner Derek Jeter wants to get rid of to start the Marlins rebuild.
Here is an idea; Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jackie Bradley Jr and maybe a prospect for Stanton. Here’s my reasoning for that. Xander Bogaerts is 25 years-old. In 2015, the shortstop his.320 and was in the running for a batting title. This past season, he hit .273. That is a 47 point drop in his batting average. To have a young buck like Bogaerts dropping points like that is unacceptable. If that were Dustin Pedroia, who has been playing with a bum knee, and is a bit older coming up on his last three years or so, it’d be much more acceptable and almost expected.
E-Rod is an okay trade piece as he has not produced well, when he’s actually healthy. Between the Sox starting five and the bullpen, he is not a pitcher we have a need for. The Marlins are starting a rebuild, which makes a 24 year-old pitcher perfect for that set up. They are going to want an outfielder to take Stanton’s place in the lineup and on the field. The Red Sox won’t give up Benintendi and Betts is worth too much to give up. The idea of the Red Sox starting outfielders being Betts, Stanton and Benintendi is a scary thought for other teams.
Then you add in a 10-20 prospect or two, as I already said to add into the Marlins rebuild process and we have Stanton. Now a lot of people are worried about his contract and the Sox being able to afford it. Well we can. The luxury tax resets, and for the next two years, the Red Sox wouldn’t have to worry about paying a luxury tax for going over the cap with Stanton.
The Red Sox, who won the AL East this year, cannot go into 2018 with the same team. Winning the AL East isn’t enough. The coaches and owners want rings. The players want rings. The fans want rings. Only making it to the ALDS isn’t enough to get a ring. Which means change needs to happen. Fire John Farrell and add a heavy hitter like Giancarlo Stanton and the Red Sox will be an ALCS and World Series team pending injuries of certain or multiple players. In 2012, David Price won the AL Cy Young. Rick Porcello won it in 2016. Chris Sale is an extremely close runner-up for the 2017 as Indians pitcher Corey Kluber will most likely be winning it. The pitching staff can stay the same. Change the lineup and you change the season’s outcome next year.
Author’s note: I almost forgot about the decision that Farrell made to keep Chris Sale in for the sixth inning in Game 1 after giving up five runs in the first five innings. Sale gave up two more runs. That game Sale gave up seven runs in five innings (he faced two batters in the sixth) where a handful of those runs came from three home runs. E-Rod is a young, athletic pitcher, who when healthy dominated on the mound.