TORONTO — If John Farrell regains his health and wants to manage the Red Sox again, he should.
Beyond anything else, it’s the right thing to do. Farrell had surgery on Aug. 10 for what he thought was simply a hernia. He found out he had cancer and still got on a commercial flight via a wheelchair and made his way to Miami to manage the team. That’s somebody who truly cares.
It also makes sense from a baseball standpoint. Farrell had good players in 2013 and managed them to a World Series championship. He has had progressively worse players since and not won. That’s generally how it works.
Justin Masterson was the No. 3 starter to start this season. Tell me a manager who was going to make that work.
However, if Farrell is not ready to manage or takes another position in the organization, Torey Lovullo should be the manager. No search would be needed.
In 31 games as the interim manager, Lovullo has led the Red Sox to 19 wins. More than that, he has been a model of consistency amid a time of chaos.
The Sox were 50-64 when Lovullo took over, the players stunned by the news that Farrell had lymphoma. Then only a few days later, Dave Dombrowski was hired as president of baseball operation and Ben Cherington had little choice but to leave the organization.
The Sox traded away Shane Victorino (on July 27) and Mike Napoli (on Aug. 7), two leaders in the clubhouse. They also lost closer Koji Uehara to a season-ending injury on Aug. 9.
There is no evidence of any of that watching the team play. The Sox play hard, they play smart, and they play to win. Lovullo has made wise lineup moves, integrated bench players at the right time and gotten the most out of a spotty rotation and weak bullpen.
Lovullo is equal part positive and candid, boosting the players up but also holding them accountable for their mistakes.
“I think he’s been great. It’s been a good atmosphere for us and you can see how everybody is playing,” Dustin Pedroia said. “Torey was the right guy for the job.”
That the Sox are still mathematically alive for a postseason berth is proof of his abilities. Whether it’s in Boston or somewhere else, Lovullo should be managing a team next season.
A few other observations on the Sox:
■ Tough times lately for the anti-David Ortiz crowd.
The facts stand in the way of saying — or is it hoping? — that he is washed up. Ortiz’s .915 OPS is second among designated hitters and sixth overall in the American League. Only 10 players in the AL have a higher OPS+. He is three RBIs away from his ninth season with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
Ortiz is a premier player and his $16 million salary amounts to a bargain for the Sox. He has stayed healthy and productive for three years in a row now.
Even his critics have to admire how Ortiz handled his pursuit of 500 home runs. Cognizant of the team’s place in the standings as he approached a personal milestone, Ortiz purposely cut back on his media availability before and after games. When he did speak, he kept it short and focused on the team.
Ortiz is on pace to become just the third player with at least 500 home runs and 600 doubles. By the time his career ends, Ortiz will almost certainly be in the top 25 in career home runs, RBIs, and extra-base hits.
■ The Red Sox have made plenty of bad moves since winning the 2013 World Series. But letting Jacoby Ellsbury go to the Yankees wasn’t one of them.
Ellsbury has hit .264/.322/.388 in two seasons with the Yankees with 23 homers and 57 steals. He also has missed 62 games. Ellsbury has a 4.4 WAR with the Yankees and, surprisingly, is at minus-8 DRS in center field. At $21.1 million a year, it hasn’t been a good deal for the Yankees so far.
Mookie Betts has a 7.2 WAR the last two seasons and that’s with playing 65 fewer games than Ellsbury. He also has a +9 DRS in center field the last two seasons. Betts salary this season was $514,500 — 97.6 percent less than Ellsbury’s.
■ Now it can be told: Back in April, the committee to bring the Olympics to Boston in 2024 announced with great fanfare that Ortiz had volunteered to join their board of directors.
The Red Sox were in Baltimore at the time and I went over to Ortiz to ask him about the news.
“What are you talking about?” he said. “They want the Olympics in Boston?”
Ortiz was put on the committee but somebody forgot to tell him, either his agents or the Boston 2024 people.
Ortiz gamely did his part and even filmed a video at one point in support of the idea. But that moment was evidence at just how poorly organized Boston 2024 was. It was doomed from the start.
■ Dombrowski watched the final two games of the Baltimore series this week from the second row of the press box at Camden Yards, taking notes and perusing email on his laptop. Orioles GM Dan Duquette joined him on Wednesday.
That may not sound unusual, but it is. It’s rare when a baseball executive willingly mingles with the scurvy media these days. When Cherington went on the road with the team, he never once visited the press box. He would watch games from the stands or a suite.
It was kind of refreshing to see Dombrowski grab a chair. Everybody has a job to do and executives surely find the media annoying at times. But in the end it’s just baseball talk.
In Minnesota, Terry Ryan actually eats dinner with the beat writers at home games and they talk about the team. Imagine that.
■ Texas is 25-13 since it traded for Napoli, moving from third place to first in the AL West. He recently purchased American flag basketball shorts for the players to wear around the clubhouse similar to the ones Jonny Gomes made fashionable with the Red Sox in 2013.
Napoli has hit well in Texas, but there’s also no denying he helps create a good environment. This would be the seventh time in the last nine seasons he’ll be in the playoffs.
■ Bullpen keepers for the Red Sox: Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Robbie Ross Jr. Tommy Layne, Noe Ramirez and Matt Barnes can compete for spots in the spring. Everybody else gets the broom.
■ Jose Altuve leads the American League with 37 steals. He could have the fewest to lead the league since Alfonso Soriano had 41 for the Yankees in 2002. Betts has 19 steals and Bogaerts 10 for the Sox. Bogaerts has said his goal is to get to 15 before the season ends.