The rise of the "PitcherManager"
With the perceived success of John Farrell, a game away from winning the World Series, teams are taking a second look at pitchers who might not have gotten an opportunity two decades ago. While the idea of a pitcher making a good manager has some merit, it’s still a misapplied set of beliefs that are stating they’re “good” managers or better suited for the job than people who played the game at other positions.
For years, former catchers were seen as the ideal managers. If it was a former backup catcher, so much the better. The more a person has to work to keep a job, the more he has to soak up and learn, the better he’ll be at imparting that knowledge and knowing the intricacies of the game. Logic dictates that the mediocre catcher who might not have been a star player will have picked up a lot of tricks along the way and learned to communicate with a wide range of personalities.
Is Farrell a good manager? Is Bud Black? Will Bryan Price work out? What about other candidates who are suddenly interviewing with a legitimate opportunity to get the job rather than just another guy brought in while the club looks for a prototypical managerial prospect?
Farrell’s success this season speaks for itself. That said, he’s still a strategically weak manager who’s benefited from having a very good team on the field. He makes some of the same gaffes with pitching changes and lineup deployment for the Red Sox that he did for the Blue Jays with the difference being that the Red Sox weren’t limited on talent like the Blue Jays and everyone in Boston is on the same page. While the 2013 Blue Jays and Red Sox and their respective seasons are putting forth the idea that nothing that went on in Toronto in 2011 and 2012 was the fault of Farrell, it’s a significant leap to absolve him of all blame based on the bottom line of wins and losses. He fit what the Red Sox were trying to do and that’s why it’s worked.