EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 12, 2013

Voting aside, Farrell-Cherington combo is the best

Francona named AL Manager of the Year

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — Terry Francona edged out best friend John Farrell for AL Manager of the Year last night.

But if there was a Manager/GM of the Year award, Farrell and Ben Cherington would have beaten Francona and Indians GM Chris Antonetti by a landslide.

The tremendous job Cherington did building the 2013 Boston Red Sox clearly was taken into account by the baseball writers who had a vote for this annual award. By choosing Francona, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America essentially made the point that Francona had less to work with in terms of player personnel than Farrell.

The final vote is not a travesty in the least. Remember, all ballots are mailed in before the playoffs begin.

Francona, in his first year with Cleveland, inherited a squad that won just 68 games in 2012. He turned the Indians into a 92-win club that earned the first Wild Card spot and finished just one game behind the mighty Detroit Tigers for first place in the AL Central.

Francona earned 16 first-place votes, 10 second-place votes and two third-place votes for 112 points. Farrell earned 12 first-place votes, 10 second-place votes and six third-place votes for 96 points. Oakland skipper Bob Melvin finished third with 36 points.

The final vote actually reflects the incredible job Cherington did last offseason, working together with his baseball operations staff and Farrell to put together the right group of players who responded to Farrell’s demands and style.

Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes provided an interesting answer this past season when asked what made Tampa’s Joe Maddon such an effective manager. Maddon is a two-time AL Manager of the Year.

“I think what makes him good goes up to the GM (Andrew Friedman) and their scouting department,” said Gomes, who was on the 2008 Rays that went to the World Series under Maddon. “What makes Joe good is that there are 25 guys that he gets every year that will buy into the Ray way, which is Joe’s way. And I think Joe and Andrew work great together.”

Likewise, Cherington and Farrell worked together to sign free agents who fit the Sox way, which is Farrell’s way.

Farrell’s way includes hitters grinding out at-bats, base runners staying aggressive, all 25 men on the roster staying relaxed and never-saying-die until the 27th out is made.

Cherington was named the 2013 Executive of the Year by The Sporting News on Monday. Because of the mega-deal he made with the Dodgers last August and his signings and acquisitions last offseason, he is the main reason the Red Sox went from a 69-win, last-place team to World Series champs.

But the group Boston’s GM assembled would not have won if not for Farrell.

Basically, Farrell and Cherington needed each other to win the title. It’s actually similar to the relationship between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.

Brady is a Hall of Fame QB. Belichick is a Hall of Fame coach. But together, and only together, the coach and QB are three-time Super Bowl champs.

And together Farrell and Cherington are 2013 World Series champs.

Farrell often sat in the dugout four hours before games as relaxed as could be, calmly staring out as his players taking infield practice while he chatted with media members or whoever was on the bench.

This might seem trivial but it showed his relaxed manner and presence. Sitting back for a half hour or so is something not many managers, including Francona, do too often. And it’s a magnificent quality that Farrell passed down to his players.

Like their manager, Red Sox players appeared just as calm in any situation, allowing them to believe the game was never finished, even when they were down 7-0 in the eighth inning. Farrell also provided a communication and chain of command that united the coaches and players.

All that said, you have to feel good for Francona, who did so much for Boston during his eight years here and is the greatest manager in Boston history.

He won the two World Series titles but interestingly never won Manager of the Year during his tenure here.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB

Manager of Year Voting

Name Team 1st 2nd 3rd Total

Terry Francona Cleveland 16 10 2 112

John Farrell Boston 12 10 6 96

Bob Melvin Oakland 2 5 11 36

Note: Voting took place before playoffs; 1st place vote 5 points, 2nd place 3 points, 3rd place 1 point