BOSTON — A year ago Sunday, the Red Sox asked the Toronto Blue Jays for permission to interview John Farrell for their managerial job.
And a day after that, the teams completed a trade and Farrell was the new Boston manager. The Red Sox were coming off a last-place finish under Bobby Valentine and Farrell was handed the task of rebuilding.
Twelve months later, Farrell has exceeded expectations. The Red Sox had the best regular-season record in the American League and finished off the Tigers in the American League Championship Series on Saturday night.
They began the World Series Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. The turnaround was unexpected around baseball, but Farrell always had high hopes.
“It was clear that there was a core group of players here that were experienced, talented, and health in many of those cases kept them from performing as they did [in 2012],” Farrell said. “Just getting an understanding of what [general manager Ben Cherington’s] vision was at the time, we’ve been able to see that come to life.”
Farrell has a long history with Cherington. They were both minor league directors — Farrell with Cleveland, Cherington with Boston — before Farrell joined the Red Sox as pitching coach under Terry Francona. Farrell became Toronto’s manager in 2011 and was under contract when the Red Sox reached out last year.
Farrell praised Cherington for the way he used the payroll flexibility that resulted from the blockbuster trade that sent Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to Dodgers. Rather than pursue big-ticket players such as Josh Hamilton, Cherington filled the roster with lower-salary options such as Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara.
On paper, the Red Sox weren’t viewed as a contender. But Farrell guided them to 97 wins and the American League East title.
“The work that Ben and his staff have done to identify those guys, do the background work and ultimately bringing guys together,” Farrell said. “It’s probably the way we’ve gone about doing it and the type of players we’ve brought in that’s as rewarding as the success on the field. … I think [Cherington] has always adhered to his own personal values when it comes to the type of person that he wants in uniform.”
Farrell said that he and Cherington have a similar philosophy and were on the same page when the team was being constructed.
“How they respected the game, how they respected the name on the front of the jersey more than the name on the back,” Farrell said. “So all those are ingredients into the type of player that we were attracted to and the reputations that those individuals had. … We share a lot of the same thoughts along those lines. And I think that’s why coming back here it allowed us last October and November to hit the ground running, and really target those players we both were in agreement of on how they played the game.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services