Sunday's game was extremely tough to watch as a Red Sox fan. We have seen this team consistently mash the cover off of the baseball, yet the Red Sox were held to seven (!) runs in their three games against the Cleveland Indians. Ultimately, the Red Sox starting pitchers could not pitch effectively and deep into ball games, the offense could not win a close game for them, and the bullpen could not keep them within shouting distance.
Nevertheless, as much as I don't think John Farrell should be the manager of this team, he was spot on in his postgame press conference. This series should not deter the Red Sox and their fans as to just how much they improved in 2016. Lets give some grades to these Red Sox coaches and management....
John Farrell, Manager
As much as I hate to admit it, a lot of this season was not Red Sox manager John Farrell's fault. Sure, he cost this team some wins, but ultimately losses and underachieving is solely on the players. Farrell is certainly not the best in-game manager, and his decision-making is spotty, at best, but I have a hard time sitting here and telling you the Red Sox were swept in the ALDS by the Cleveland Indians because of John Farrell. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski announced that Farrell and his entire staff would be invited back next season. However, Dombrowski revealed that he would need to talk to ownership about extending Farrell past this season or picking up his 2018 option. While I may seem supportive of Farrell's decisions throughout this season, I do not agree with having the skipper return to the team next season. The Red Sox are one of the best franchises in all of professional sports and the managerial position should be highly coveted. The Red Sox should have one of the best coaches in baseball, which they clearly do not have right now.
Final Grade: C-
Dave Dombrowski, President of Baseball Operations
This was an extremely tough first season for Dave Dombrowski. Since being relinquished of his duties with the Detroit Tigers last season, Dombrowski was one of the more valued available guys on the executive free agent market. Luckily, after firing Ben Cherington, the Red Sox offered Dombrowski a fat contract and brought in one of the more no-sense guys in baseball. As soon as Dombrowski joined the team at the end of the 2015 season, players started performing and finished the season strong. In the offseason, the Red Sox signed the best available pitcher the free agent market, David Price, to the most lucrative contract ever given to a pitcher. Additionally, Dombrowski traded for one of the best relievers in all of baseball in Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, almost all of the players that Dombrowski brought in this year drastically underperformed. Now, this is not Dombrowski's fault, similar to John Farrell, but the events that transpired afterwards certainly were on him. Throughout the season, Dombrowski brought in the likes of Brad Ziegler, Drew Pomeranz, Aaron Hill and Fernando Abad. While Aaron Hill was terrible and Fernando Abad did not even make the playoff roster, his worst transaction may have been the Drew Pomeranz saga. It is hard to blame Dombrowski for trading for Pomeranz, as he was the best available pitcher. However, after it was revealed that the San Diego Padres were withholding Pomeranz' forearm injury, the MLB gave the Red Sox the option to rescind the trade and re-acquire top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. In an effort to win now, Dombrowski declined the offer and we saw what happened in the postseason. Moving forward, Dombrowski has to completely revamp the bullpen and perhaps add to the starting rotation. I can not overstate how important this offseason is for the Red Sox...
Final Grade: C-
Carl Willis, Pitching Coach
All in all, it is tough to be happy with the way Red Sox pitchers performed and developed in 2016. Like I mentioned above, it is tough for me to blame coaches more than players when it comes to a dip in performance. Nonetheless, Carl Willis had a horrendous as the mentor of this staff and, truthfully, I am amazed that he was invited back for next season. With new guys that would be heavily relied upon for success this season like David Price and Craig Kimbrel, one would think that the pitching coach would be the most important person. Additionally, the Red Sox had multiple young guys in the starting rotation at various parts of the season. The most jaw-dropping moment for me this season was when Dustin Pedroia pointed out David Price's change in delivery. After this mechanical flaw was seen, Price started pitching a lot better and eventually salvaged an otherwise forgettable first season in Boston. Isn't that something the pitching coach should realize, not a second baseman?
Final Grade: D
Chili Davis, Hitting Coach
On the flip side, we have the exact opposite of Willis in Chili Davis. If you look at Boston's offensive numbers, it is easy to see why Davis had such a successful season. The Red Sox led all of baseball in almost every offensive category, so it is hard to be angry about anything. Additionally, we saw individual player growth that will be essential to the long-term success of the Boston Red Sox. Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. were able to burst onto the scene with fantastic regular seasons both in the batters box and on the field. A large portion of that has to do with Chili Davis.
Final Grade: A
Brian Butterfield, Third Base Coach
Truthfully, I was not even going to to have Butterfield on this list, but then I remembered his efforts to help Hanley Ramirez learn first base during Spring Training. Not only did Butterfield help Ramirez, but he is also one of the best third base coaches in all of baseball. At times, Butterfield can be overly aggressive, but I would rather have that than a conservative approach. Having veterans like Ramirez and Ortiz hustling around the bases keeps them engaged in the game throughout a 162-game season. Did Butterfield make a few mistakes this season? Absolutely. However, who is perfect for seven or eight straight months in any job?
Final Grade: A-