John Farrell must go.

No, that isn’t breaking any new ground in the world of New England hot takes. And too many people point out the problem these days without offering a solution. Guilty as charged and admittedly adding to the noise here.

We’re closing in on Memorial Day, and as of Sunday morning the Boston Red Sox were closer to last place than first in the American League East. Last place being a concept we all intimately understand, because Farrell has more than once guided the Sox to that status after 162 games.

This isn’t a limited sample in either the short-term or long-term view. At the quarter pole of the 2017 season, the Sox are a monument to mediocrity. Twenty-one up. Twenty-one down. Slightly better at home than on the road. Struggling mightily on the West Coast.

All the infuriating traits the franchise flaunted under the likes of Ralph Houk and Kevin Kennedy, in other words.

Farrell has bought time largely because he owns a certain piece of jewelry those two (and all predecessors in our lifetime not named Terry Francona) didn’t. I’m not putting him in the Barry Switzer and Tyronn Lue category, but there’s danger in giving the skipper too much credit for the 2013 championship.


Other forces clearly were at work. Boston effectively won that title on April 20 when David Ortiz told the world whose bleeping city it was. The whole outranked the sum of the parts that season, but it might have been in spite of the manager. Frankly a trained circus animal would have held more clubhouse cachet than did Bobby Valentine the previous year.

The Sox’s record since: 264 wins, 266 losses. Look up “meh” in the dictionary and probably you’ll see a neatly scripted, clip-art “B” on a red or blue background next to it.

Give Farrell extra props for his role as pitching coach on the 2007 title team. Then promptly cancel it out as a consequence of the success Francona has enjoyed without him.

These aren’t the 1980s or even the ’90s anymore. Too many great things have happened to escalate the expectations for this team. Perhaps that makes us spoiled, and just maybe we’ll be having this same conversation 10 years from now about the poor dude who will have been chosen to take over the New England Patriots.

None of that changes the reality that Farrell isn’t managing the San Diego Padres or Minnesota Twins. Being a dark horse until the all-star break is not why they’re paying him the big money in Beantown.

Too much salary is being shelled out, the cramped seats at antiquated Fenway too stuffed, the farm system too good for too long for the Sox to be looking up at the Tampa Bay Rays in the standings any longer.


My hope and prayer is that Farrell received the pink slip before the plane even landed at Logan late Sunday night/early Monday morning. It’s such a necessity at this point, in fact, that I don’t even care who replaces him.

I’m not on Team Jason Varitek, either. His managerial experience is diddly, and he was substantially more divisive a character than for what he was given credit during his playing days.

Given the choice between unproven success and proven adequacy, though, I’ll take the unknown. At this point in the year, most of the potential replacements are without an MLB managerial gig for a reason.

Still, if there’s a spot where recycling a veteran boss – any veteran at all – makes sense, this might be it. The Sox harbor a boatload of young talent. The window of 2014 to present is enough body of work to make me suspect that their inconsistency might reflect a lack of leadership. Perhaps a different voice is all this team needs in its ear to ignite the division title run most people believed was a lock in January and February.

If the only reason the Sox are clinging to Farrell is the perception that he’s some sort of pitching guru, that’s surely overstating matters. Whoever is handling Chris Sale only needs to get out of the way and let him be the AL’s most electrifying dealer. What has Farrell done for anyone else on that staff since 2013, in reality? His mere presence didn’t make David Price any better in the clutch. He didn’t stop Clay Buchholz from becoming darned near unwatchable before being mercifully shipped out of town.

I can’t point to Candidate A or Candidate B and promise you they’ll be better than Farrell. But based on the team’s perpetual under-performance, I’m certainly comfortable predicting that nobody this side of Bobby V can do any worse.

That we would see such a modicum of progress as a step in the right direction tells me all I need to know about the straits in which the Farrell administration has left us.

Thanks for the memories, John, but an organization with three titles this century and a dugout full of young blue-chippers deserves better than to live in the past.

Kalle Oakes was a 27-year veteran of the Sun Journal sports department. He is currently sports editor of the Georgetown (Kentucky) News-Graphic. You may reach him by email at

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