The Red Sox introduced John Farrell as manager today in a press conference at Fenway Park. Farrell held court for about 40 minutes, taking questions from Boston and Toronto media on his time with the Jays, his courtship by the Red Sox, and his plans for the future.
First things first: Toronto media and fans appear to be quite angry. There were a number of questions that referenced Farrell skipping out on the last year of his contract, or asking if he was familiar with the anger that was being spouted up in Canada. Considering all we heard for the last week was that he was overrated and the inmates were running the asylum up there, I was a little surprised by it.
Generally speaking, Farrell handled the press well. He sounded confident, happy to be there, and as if he had a plan. There was a lot of talk about trust with the players, and even more about communication with both the players and management. Ben Cherington at one point said one of the good things about their relationship is that they are familiar enough that they can disagree without it blowing up into a big issue.
Most of the press conference was the usual coach speak -- expecting 100% effort, holding guys accountable, blah blah blah. What stood out was Farrell's insistence that he would push for an aggressive style of play. He wants the team to be "relentless."
Obviously, the first thing you think about with aggressiveness is baserunning, and Farrell has been criticized for being too aggressive on the basepaths with the Blue Jays. But he expanded on it to pitching -- pitching to the strike zone, rather than nibbling for 4 2/3 and ceding the game to the bullpen.
Expanding it further, I couldn't help but wonder -- does this mean he'll also try to get them to pitch faster? His history doesn't suggest it -- he was pitching coach over Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield, two of the slowest workers in baseball. But perhaps he has a new philosophy about it, and that new philosophy might lead to us not having to watch four-hour baseball games.
Of course, there's a lot of work to be done. Really, the way I've approached this hiring is that it allows us to do the real work. Get the staff in place, and let Cherington try to put some good players in place. Then we'll see what Farrell can do.
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