Home > Game Recaps, MLB > Red Sox ALDS Game 3 recap: An open letter to John Farrell

Red Sox ALDS Game 3 recap: An open letter to John Farrell

Highest WPA: Jacoby Ellsbury, .273 (3-5, 2B, SB)
Lowest WPA: Koji Uehara, -.383 (2/3 IP, HR)

Dear Mr. Farrell,

First off, thanks for not being Bobby Valentine. That’s been really great of you, and every Red Sox fan appreciates it. Kudos.

I was going to go on about how Koji Uehara should’ve started the 8th instead of letting Franklin Morales work into trouble, but y’know what? I’ll give you a pass. Brandon Workman got some soft ground balls that the infield just couldn’t turn into the necessary outs. That’s not on you. And then, of course… well, Koji’s human. As long as he isn’t going to dwell on one Jose Lobaton home run, I’m sure he’ll be a shutdown guy again as soon as he has the chance – and with just five pitches tonight, that chance could be tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to use him in a tie. It’s awesome when you use him in ties instead of waiting for the lead.

But here’s the thing, man… do you know what your bench is for? Do you recognize the respective strengths and weaknesses of your players? Did you really want to win tonight?

Because it sure didn’t look that way. Pinch-running Quintin Berry for David Ortiz after a leadoff walk in the 8th was a polarizing move, but I was willing to be patient (really! Just ask my co-blogger Goog!). It seemed early, but if you want to go for one run there, I can’t complain too much. And once Berry stole second, it just looked like everything was going to shake out just fine, whether it was the “right” move or not.

But then, after pinch-hitting Jonny Gomes for Daniel Nava against a lefty and getting an intentional walk, you did the inexplicable: nothing. You just sat there while Jarrod Saltalamacchia added another out to a career .206/.267/.332 line against lefties. A concussed David Ross had a down year, but still hit .216/.298/.382, and better than that against lefties. But no, Salty struck out, and you let it happen.

And once you’re invested in a strategy of watching guys fail at things they’ve never done well, you just don’t stop! Stephen Drew can’t hit lefties, but I guess Xander Bogaerts is only on this roster to pinch-run once Berry’s been burned. No, Bogaerts won’t be as good as the .467/.556/.533 line he posted off lefties in 18 appearances this year, and yes, pinch-hitters might be a little bit cold and not up to their true talent like a guy who’s been in the game all night. But even fans of the Drew family recognized that Stephen was doomed in that at-bat.

Look… it’s not easy managing. Just a move like bunting with Victorino in the 9th – a move that Fangraphs liked, by the way! – is going to get you criticized by a lot of fans. But REALLY, John. You took David Ortiz out of the game, and then you just hoped things would work out. If you’re going to fire that pinch-running bullet, you have to make sure it hits its target. Instead, you closed your eyes, whispered “it’s in Steve’s hands now,” and pulled the trigger. You can’t do that. I just hope you get the chance not to do that in the ALCS.

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