Associated Press

Dave Dombrowski’s reasons for firing John Farrell are as clear as mud

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Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski met the press to explain the club’s firing of John Farrell this morning and basically refused to explain it.

Oh, he offered a lot of management speak about it being “time for a change” and the need for the team to “get better” but he did not give any specific reason for Farrell’s 2018 option not getting picked up. Indeed, he specifically said he was not going to provide any specific reason and that he’d keep those to himself.

But he went even further, saying that there was no way Farrell was going to keep his job, even if the Red Sox had beaten the Astros in the ALDS, swept the ALCS and won the dang World Series:

NO level? Really? That seems odd. Then again, this is a team that fired its most successful manager in franchise history because a couple of pitchers decided to have some beer and fried chicken, so never underestimate the Red Sox front office’s dedication to its own ends, however divorced from on-field baseball success it may appear to outside observers. Dombrowski is relatively new to Boston, but he answers to most of the same guys who thought Bobby Valentine was the right choice for this team in 2012.

To be sure, one could make a reasonable case for Farrell to be let go. The young bats the club counted on this season took a step back. Farrell may not have been able to do anything about that, but managers are often fired for that sort of regression of young talent. There was also some discord in the Sox’ clubhouse this year. Dustin Pedroia took another team’s side in a beanball war with the Orioles early in the season, and that’s not the sort of thing one tends to see. David Price mounted a personal vendetta against a broadcaster. There was that Apple Watch sign-stealing thing. Stuff happened. While Farrell has never been a bad manager, he’s not some sort of singular talent either, so replacing him is not, ultimately, a huge deal.

Still, Dombrowski’s cagey approach to this news has to have Red Sox fans scratching their heads. Or maybe just nodding their heads as, perhaps, they are just used to this sort of stuff by now. I’m still fascinated by Red Sox Kremlinology, but maybe people in Boston are just resigned to it.

Whatever the case, this is Boston, so I’m sure a lot more will trickle out about all of this in the coming days. Folks close to the front office doing the usual “throw the guy whose leaving under the bus” stuff and others carrying the water of people close to Farrell or who otherwise opposed to his departure.

All for a club that is the two-time defending AL East champs and has a core of young players most teams would kill to have.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.