Well, the Red Sox are done, this time literally and completely for 2016. Us fans are done following them and rooting for them for this year and for a team that includes Big Papi. It was a real roller coaster ride for us this year and the fact that they lost in the first round of the playoffs is really no surprise. They essentially followed the same pattern they have all season. Win a few and then lose an equal number to stay at the same place. They did this at least since June 1st, playing barely above .500 since then. They had won 11 straight before ending the season losing 8 out of 9 to make up the difference.
One can’t help but wonder why they followed this same pattern virtually all season and if it doesn’t have something to do with the manager. He didn’t seem capable of keeping them on the winning trail. A good manager, maybe Terry Francona, would have probably seen them winning 100 or more games and going further in the playoffs. If Francona had been managing the Red Sox and Farrell the Indians for just the series, we probably would have seen a different result in the ALDS even.
I can think of multiple mistakes that Farrell made in those 3 games. First and foremost was trusting a pitcher to come out of the bullpen that had been pitching poorly ever since we acquired him and having him be responsible for the hits that lost 2 of the 3 games. Pomeranz should no more have been the pitcher to count on when the game was on the line than I am a monkey! Why replace the number 1 and 2 pitchers with the one that hadn’t even made the rotation for the playoffs?
It was a very poor decision to try to rely on Pomeranz and the result proves this point. The bullpen had been doing very well of late why not depend on them? During the 11 game winning streak the bullpen had allowed, I believe, only 1 run and they were still pitching well despite the recent losses. It would have been much smarter to depend on them rather than someone who had not pitched well. What? Farrell expected him to miraculously start pitching better just because the games mattered so much?
It is true that the offense didn’t come through when it counted in all 3 games, but in game 3 Farrell only made it worse by taking the two that had been hitting a little out of the game early. Benintendi hit a double in his first at bat driving in their only run at the time he was taken out. Brock Holt had been hitting better than anybody on the roster and he was taken out early. Aren’t you supposed to go with the hot bat at the time and not rely so much on statistics and match ups when the game and the season is on the line? I would have.
The later move just about destroyed the Sox chances of getting the run or runs they needed in the bottom of the 9th with it all riding on Shaw, who had proved he couldn’t hit at all lately, but had come in to replace the hot hitting Holt. I would much rather have had Holt up in that situation and I wasn’t proven wrong. Too, Benintendi might have come through with a big hit at any other point of the game as he was hitting well lately. Going by the numbers and ignoring the hot bats was just wrong and poor managing in my opinion.
Then there was the decision to take Papi out of the game in the 8th that came to naught. It might have been better to leave him in as we almost needed his bat in the 9th and surely would have needed it had the game gone to extra innings. If the tying run would have scored with the pinch runner when Papi could not have in the 8th, it might have been alright. Still, I would have left Papi in the game because we so desperately needed his bat. No one else, except maybe Betts, was hitting at all.
It looks like we are going to have to suffer through another season of this kind of decision making from the manager as Farrell is not being replaced. I think that is a mistake as he has let the team down with his lack of good decision making all season, not to mention the fact that he can’t seem to get the best out of his young players. We should have been a much better team this season and I think with a better manager we could be next year. Without that we are doomed to mediocrity at least for another year.
That being said, it wasn’t a bad season for the Sox. They did make the playoffs and won the AL East, which is a far cry from the past two seasons. I think they did this more despite Farrell than because of him, though. They just could not be consistent all year, playing brilliantly for a few and then looking like a college team for a few and on and on it went. A good manager might have gotten more consistency out of them.
Still, let’s look forward to next season and hope that they can do as well despite their handicaps and without Big Papi. It won’t be too long and we will be pulling for them again. Let’s just hope the young stars on the team can learn to play well more consistently. They need to learn it from Betts! So, let’s move on and look forward to 2017. Meanwhile, farewell to Big Papi and we only want the best in the future for him. Maybe he can play some role in the future from a coaching stand point. We will see what next season brings. Meanwhile, good job Sox; let’s hope things will get even better next year! Go Sox!