No regrets: Farrell excited about Red Sox's moves
Manager sees Napoli mainly at first base, Aceves in relief, Bailey as closer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Despite the major upgrades the Blue Jays made after they traded their manager, John Farrell insisted numerous times on Tuesday that he has no regrets about his move to the Red Sox.
In fact, Farrell is enthused by watching what Boston general manager Ben Cherington has done in recent weeks, adding David Ross and Jonny Gomes while agreeing to terms with Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino on three-year contracts.
"Well, given the number of needs that we have, obviously, the addition of David Ross, Jonny Gomes, adds to that," Farrell said. "Not only with just the ability to create more offense, but there's a definite intent to bring in guys that are proven team guys, guys of high character.
"I know that's something that Ben and I have talked a lot about, extensively about, and I think we're making the progress that we've hoped, at least in the early going, with adding those types of players."
While this was Farrell's first news conference on a national stage since becoming the manager of the Red Sox, he was asked 11 questions that related to his departure from Toronto.
"Well, first of all, they've improved themselves overnight with a trade. We've got the utmost respect for them," Farrell said. "[The Blue Jays] made one heck of a trade. [Jays general manager] Alex [Anthopoulos] has been aggressive. They've improved themselves with the number of players acquired.
"But as I said to an earlier question, the decision to leave I was asked on two occasions, 'Would I have interest if this opportunity in Boston arose?' At that point, I said, 'Yes.' And they felt the decision was probably the right one to make to trade me."
Farrell has too much on his plate with Boston to spend much time reflecting on his two-year stint in Toronto.
These days, he has plenty of issues to keep him busy on the task at hand.
For starters, how does Napoli fit in, assuming he passes his physical?
"If all that comes to fruition, he's a guy that is a type of player that we want to bring in," Farrell said. "Again, if this gets finalized, we see him as a first baseman primarily, but with the ability to catch and to acclimate him to our pitchers in Spring Training. One of the things we would do, provided all this goes through, is that we would have him catch in Spring Training early on, but then certainly make sure that we've got enough reps at first base for not only him to feel comfortable there, but for us as well."
The Red Sox have no lack of options at the catching position. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ross and Ryan Lavarnway all remain on the roster. Farrell feels that competition is wide open at this point.
"I think that's something we'll get a clear understanding of as we go through the offseason and certainly Spring Training," Farrell said.
While deciding what role right-hander Alfredo Aceves should fill has become a dilemma for the Red Sox in recent years, Farrell seems to clearly prefer him as a reliever.
"Personally, I see him as a very dominant reliever late in the game," Farrell said. "Whether we sit here today and fully define what that role is, I don't know if we're here to do that. There's a lot of discussion internally that he could still provide a depth starter for us or possibly a fifth starter.
"The one thing we have is a talented pitcher that can do some things physically that not many can do. That's the frequency with which he pitches and the number of pitches he'll throw in a given outing. He's a valuable pitcher."
While the Red Sox have tackled several other areas of their team during the winter makeover, not much has been said about the bullpen. In general, Farrell feels good about his options in the late innings.
And even if Andrew Bailey struggled late in the season, his new manager has confidence he will do the job in the closer role.
"I don't think we saw the true end of Bailey last year after he came back from the injury," said Farrell. "Any time you're coming back from an injury, and, two, you're trying to play catch up sometime in August after guys are so entrenched in their performance in a given year. But this is a successful closer in the past that right now you look to him to be in that role."
As for setup options, Farrell also likes what he has in that area.
"What Junichi [Tazawa] has done in his emergence coming back from Tommy John, he's put himself in that mix," Farrell said.
Then, there is the rejuvenation of Daniel Bard, a high priority for the Red Sox. New pitching coach Juan Nieves will soon fly out to meet with Bard.
"The separation of mental and fundamental is a great debate, what's going to come first," Farrell said. "I think it's first and foremost that we get him in a position to command the baseball a little bit more regularly. Just in reviewing some video from last year versus a couple of years previous, there's some noticeable changes there just from a physical side.
"So I think to address those first and then have some reminders through video of where he was, either on the rubber previously or where his arm slot was, or what his mindset was to begin to discuss what he tried to do as a pitcher."