It was quite the week that you and I and John Farrell just lived. Winning both games of a two game series against the Red Sox doesn't hurt how I feel about John, but there has been some rocky moments.
When Alex Anthopoulos was doing his manager search a lot of names were suggested here. When someone would suggest a person that had never managed anywhere, majors or minors, I generally said 'we'd want someone that has some experience as a manager'. To me, we wanted someone with some sort of track record, someone that knew the stresses of dealing with in game decisions. Then we hire John Farrell.
John has done several different jobs in baseball, manager wasn't one of them. Obviously he impressed Alex in interviews and Alex heard good things about him from other people. I was lucky enough to get to talk to John for a few moments and he impressed me with how thoughtful he was. He took time to think about the questions I asked and came out with thoughtful responses, even though I'm just a small time blogger. I truly can't imagine Cito giving me the time of day.
You really can't tell much about a manager until he actually manages a few games. A guy can say all the right thing, be smarter than the average bear and still have troubles when the game is on. I always thought that the game goes faster when you are in the dugout.
In a general way, I've liked how Farrell manages. For the most part, I like how he uses the bullpen. Everyone seems to be getting work. Last year Cito would seemingly forget about one or two guys in the pen. They wouldn't throw for a couple of weeks and then when they got into a game, they would be rusty and have a bad outing. Then they'd be back to being ignored for a couple of weeks again. Farrell gets everybody into games and he seems to have roles for each guy.
Then there is Octavio Dotel, who has been a whole new brand of awful. We knew he had a very large left/right split, before coming into this season, but nothing near as large as he has shown this year. Against RHB he has a .167/.231/.167 line, against LHB it is .286/.545/1.000. We knew he'd be bad against lefties, but not this bad. The funny part is that, in the past, he was bad against lefties but he didn't give up many home runs against them. He actually, up until this season, gave up more home runs per plate appearance to right handers. This year, in 14 at bats, he has given up 3 home runs to lefties.
So, yeah he shouldn't be facing lefties, but then Farrell seems to be using him mostly in blow outs. If we are down by a bunch, worrying about match ups is a waste of time. Now Farrell could try to use him as a ROOGY but then he has 6 other right handed relievers and he clearly likes all of them better than Dotel, so what is the point? I think Dotel is going to have to get out whoever John has him face before his role will change.
The small ball stuff is something that, I'm sure, John is going to find a balance with. I love watching Davis steal. I'm glad he got Hill and Snider stealing. I'm hoping that he catches on to the idea that Rivera and McDonald shouldn't be trying to steal. Patterson is 5 for 9 in steal attempts. If he can't improve on that, he shouldn't be running. And, of course, I hate sac bunts in the early innings. If you are bunting in the first inning, you are doing something wrong. On the other hand, I like seeing the squeeze bunt on occasion as well as the hit and run. I know we didn't hit and run at all last year, and I'm pretty sure we didn't squeeze.
I'm not thrilled with John's seeming impatience with some players. Travis and Brett get sent to the minors after a few bad outings. Guys get moved in and out as well as up and down the lineup, depending on how they have done in the past few games. Jayson Nix has a good game and we use him every day. I always think that us fans are supposed to be impatient, but managers should take a longer view. I'd like patience with the young guys, maybe less with the older players. Course, now we've had so many little injuries, John is just sending out the 9 healthiest bodies he can find.
I didn't like him taking Brandon Morrow out of that tie game. I figure a starter should be allowed to pitch himself out of trouble in the early innings, especially if the game is still tied. I really don't believe the line about Brandon's speed dropping, he was down a couple of MPH, but you expect that after 30 pitches in an inning. I'd liked if they would have bought a minute or two for Brandon to catch his breath, JP could have come out to see him or you could complain about the strike zone for a moment, designate a coach to get himself thrown out. At least leave Morrow in until we are no longer tied. I console myself with the idea that, since Brandon will be on an inning limit this year, a couple less innings today means a couple more at the other end of the season.
I don't really like the patience being shown Jo-Jo. I don't see anything that he has done anything to deserve it. When he gets outs, they are line drives and fly balls that find gloves. But again, Farrell ought to be more patient than I am.
I like how Farrell deals with his coaches. They all seem part of things. At times, it seemed with Cito, that he had his favorite couple of coaches and the rest, well, they didn't seem to exist. All the coaches seem to get along. John doesn't seem to have any trouble giving his coaches credit. I also like how he deals with the players and the media. He seems like a great communicator.
I'm sure this year will be a learning experience for Farrell and for us. No manager is going to do everything the way we think they should. I have confidence that I'm going to grow to like him as our manager.