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Farrell sparked Boston's remarkable turnaround

Farrell sparked Boston's remarkable turnaround

Farrell sparked Boston's remarkable turnaround

BOSTON -- Some managers thrive on their people skills. Others rely more on their meticulous preparation and tactical knowledge.

Then, there are the special leaders who don't have one prominent trait, but rely on all of them equally to form an unquestioned brand of leadership.

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Meet John Farrell, who came back to Boston with big ambitions in his first year as the manager of the Red Sox and fulfilled all of them.

BBWAA AWARD WINNERS
ALL AWARDS
Most Valuable Players
AL: Miguel Cabrera, DET
NL: Andrew McCutchen, PIT
Cy Young Award winners
AL: Max Scherzer, DET
NL: Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Managers of the Year
AL: Terry Francona, CLE
NL: Clint Hurdle, PIT
Rookies of the Year
AL: Wil Myers, TB
NL: Jose Fernandez, MIA

On Monday, Farrell could get the type of ultimate recognition that he never seeks, when the American League's Manager of the Year Award is announced. The two other finalists are Indians manager Terry Francona, who Farrell worked under as Boston's pitching coach for four years, and Athletics manager Bob Melvin.

All three skippers did a fine job this season. But what Farrell did in helping to restore a franchise that had won 69 games last year and seemed to have lost its way might end up earning him the first Manager of the Year Award in Boston since Jimy Williams in 1999.

Go back to that day Farrell was hired a year ago and remember all the things he said.

There was talk of tunnel-vision focus on each game. There was a vow to improve the running game. There was determination to get back to the relentless type of offense the Red Sox had been known for during their best years. And there was Farrell's confidence that the pitching staff -- once his domain -- would get back to excellence.

It all happened, and the Red Sox finished the season as World Series champions.

"He said we're going to be as well, or better prepared than anyone," said general manager Ben Cherington. "He made it about the players, held them to a high standard but empowering them at the same time. And those are easy things to say in the winter, but it's hard to pull off when you're going through a six or eight-month season and a grind. It's hard to pull it off, and sure enough, he did. It's a great credit to him, the people around him. They made it about exactly what he said it was going to be."

While some managers are set in their ways, part of the beauty of Farrell was his willingness to adapt and admit mistakes. In Game 3 of the AL Division Series vs. the Rays at Tropicana Field, Farrell chose not to let Xander Bogaerts pinch-hit for the slumping Stephen Drew against lefty Jake McGee, and the Red Sox lost.

The next night, faced with the same situation, Farrell called on Bogaerts and watched him work a walk that proved critical to the series-clinching rally.

"Well, I reserve the right to change my mind," quipped Farrell.

In Game 3 of the World Series vs. the Cardinals, Farrell allowed pitcher Brandon Workman to hit in the ninth inning of a tie game. The Red Sox lost.

Instead of trying to talk his way out of a poor decision, Farrell admitted that he messed up an opportunity to double-switch with Workman earlier in the game. The Red Sox lost that game on the obstruction call at third base on Will Middlebrooks.

The next night, Farrell and the Red Sox recovered and ran the table for the final three games of the World Series.

Jonny Gomes hit four pinch-hit homers during the regular season. But on one occasion for a September game at Tampa Bay, Farrell had Mike Carp hit for Gomes. The result? A game-breaking grand slam by Carp.

All season, it seemed Farrell had a knack for making the right move at the right time. He stuck with Middlebrooks for the first eight games of the postseason. But in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series vs. the Tigers, Farrell turned the position over to Bogaerts, who thrived the rest of the way.

And the one thing the Red Sox, to a man, raved about, was how well their manager and coaching staff prepared them.

"Guys were focused all year and focused on the right areas and wanting to win for each other since Day One," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "We had our meeting and in the first practice we were doing bunt plays, full speed. You do stuff like that, you know you have a good team."

Not to mention a good manager.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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