Farrell takes stage as new Red Sox manager
Emphasizes relationships, restoration of winning ways in return to Boston
BOSTON -- The process that takes place within the offices on Yawkey Way these days has developed a phrase frequently uttered by general manager Ben Cherington. It is called "building the next great Red Sox team."
After an exhaustive process in their search for the 46th manager in club history, the Red Sox came to what seemed to be unanimous approval. John Farrell is the right man to take over the dugout, and the clubhouse, at this critical juncture.
"Ben is constantly talking about the next great Red Sox team. That's the goal, is the next great Red Sox team," Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino said. "We can see John Farrell as the next great manager of the next great Red Sox team. It's both a short-term fix and a long-term fit, as well."
Just days after signing a three-year contract, Farrell was unveiled to the media at a packed Fenway Park press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Among the emotions Farrell displayed were enthusiasm, determination and passion.
"As far as what you can expect on the field, I truly believe in an up-tempo, aggressive style of play," Farrell said. "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."
Without question, Farrell was thrilled that the team chose him amid a talented field that included Padres special assistant to the general manager Brad Ausmus, Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, Yankees bench coach Tony Pena and Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale.
"It is very much a privilege," Farrell said. "I'm honored and extremely humbled to be standing here today. I do want to say this -- that for [my wife] Sue, my boys and I, this is an incredible privilege to be standing here today. It could have easily been any one of the other four candidates who interviewed for the position. To be added to the list of 45 other managers that have gone before me is exciting."
After finally getting the chance to interview with the Red Sox last Saturday, Farrell was munching on some take-out Chinese food at Lucchino's home when principal owner John Henry asked him a blunt question.
Why would Farrell want to take over the Red Sox at this point and time, coming off an epic collapse in September of 2011 and the team's worst season since 1965, going 69-93 in '12?
"I responded that if things had been going smoothly, I wouldn't be having this conversation with you," Farrell said. "That was kind of an obvious answer. But I think at the same time, there's some realization on my part that there's work to be done here.
"There's a lot of quality players that are currently here, and yet the won-loss record doesn't reflect that. It's my job and my intent -- and I'm eager to get started -- to identify what took place and how do we best address it and correct it."
At this early stage of the offseason, it's hard for anyone to say just what kind of team the 2013 Red Sox will be. But Farrell thinks postseason contention is a realistic goal.
"I think a couple of things will need to happen," Farrell said. "Certain players need to return to the form and the performance that they've established for themselves, and not just a one-year situation. Guys who have established a career path and a career record of being above average can get back to those levels, and [we] can 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 turnaround and get to the point of contending next year."
To get Farrell out of the final year of his contract with the Blue Jays, Boston sent shortstop Mike Aviles to Toronto. Right-hander David Carpenter came back to the Red Sox in the deal.
As the Red Sox and Blue Jays tried to make a deal, Farrell had to be left completely out of the loop. After about 10 days, the Red Sox got their man.
"I've known John since 2002, when we were both farm directors," Cherington said. "He had two years of managerial experience in Toronto, which will give him the opportunity to hit the ground running here in Boston.
"As we work to build the next great Red Sox team, we're fortunate John will be here with us and we look forward to it."
Farrell, 50, replaces Bobby Valentine, who had a 69-93 record in his one and only season in Boston.
The season was a humbling experience for the Red Sox, who hadn't finished in last place since 1992 or with fewer than 70 wins since 1965.
The Red Sox hired Farrell not only because he has great familiarity in the organization, from his four seasons (2007-10) as pitching coach, but because they believe he has just the right temperament to succeed as the team's next manager.
For Farrell, getting a chance to manage the Red Sox is what he called a "dream job" in a conversation with his former boss, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
"Boston is, in my mind, this is the epicenter of the game," Farrell said. "To come in and have at least four years of experience previous -- not having sat in the seat, but to be close to it -- that energy and what people expect holds people accountable for the effort they put out every single night."
Farrell spoke about relationships among the players and staff at Tuesday's gathering.
"I think it's critical we work as a unit, the ability to challenge one another and express openings in that coaches room, but when we go out we'll be working together with one voice," Farrell said.
Though pitchers such as Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard all had the best seasons of their Red Sox careers under Farrell as pitching coach, the new manager knows that in a way, the slate is going to have to be wiped clean.
"Yes, there are some relationships still here, but by no means is that taken for granted. There is familiarity, but it's up to me to regain that trust in those relationships," Farrell said.
While Farrell's relationship with the pitchers was obvious, he also developed a good history with the position players still remaining from his first stint with the Red Sox.
Though he has a no-nonsense side of him that commands respect, Farrell also has a playful side that was there for all to see a few years back, when he hoisted Dustin Pedroia into a trash barrel.
"I'd like to think I can get along with anybody," said Farrell. "I like [Pedroia's] trash talking. I think even when I was a pitcher, I had a relationship with position players. There's a camaraderie that exists that you want to build upon."
That relationship should also exist with the front office.
"I think it's important I have a relationship with a manager that's strong to the point that you can disagree and be candid with one another and walk away knowing that relationship is still intact," Cherington said. "I have a better chance making decisions if that relationship is strong."
Farrell was candid about the fact he went through some growing pains in his first two years as a manager in Toronto. But the same could be said for Terry Francona in his four years in Philadelphia that preceded his largely-successful Boston tenure.
"I can honestly tell you, it's allowed me to be a lot more prepared standing here today than maybe would have been the case two years ago," Farrell said.