Rounding Third: Farrell making an impressive impact

Let's be honest, John Farrell didn't have huge shoes to fill when he was named the manager of the Boston Red Sox this past winter.

It wasn't exactly Terry Francona he was replacing. He took over for Bobby Valentine, who for a number of reasons will likely go down as the worst manager in team history.

But Farrell has experienced no such growing pains and his impact on the club has almost been immediate. More importantly, the Red Sox seem to be responding, as they have taken on his relentless approach to the game and to a man they say this is the most prepared team they have ever been on.

And not lost on anyone is the open line of communication the team has not only with Farrell, but his entire staff. A key ingredient that was indeed lacking under the Valentine regime and was probably the biggest factor in him not being with the organization today.

Heading into action on Wednesday the Red Sox, the team most people assumed would be fighting it out with the New York Yankees for last place in the American League East, sit atop the division and own the second-best record in the league behind only the Oakland Athletics.

Of course, it's early in the season, but still it's quite a contrast from the 4-10 start the team went through last season on their way to 93 losses.

Truth be told, the Red Sox wanted Farrell to replace Francona in 2012, but he wanted to give it a go with the Toronto Blue Jays. Farrell, of course, had been the pitching coach under Francona for four seasons before taking the managerial leap with the Blue Jays in 2011.

But, after what happened last season, or more importantly why it happened, the Red Sox did everything in their power to get Farrell, and this time the feeling was mutual.

As bad of a match as Valentine may have been for that clubhouse, his biggest problem may have been starting pitching. In fact, Boston's rotation has basically been inconsistent since Farrell left.

And everyone knew it.

His biggest job was to fix that rotation, specifically Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Lester last season struggled to 14 losses and a 4.82 ERA, while Buchholz pitched to a 4.56 ERA, the highest by the way of any starter on the team.

Well, Lester is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA this season and Buchholz has won all three of his starts and is pitching to a brilliant 0.41 ERA.

In fact, no Red Sox pitcher has allowed more than three runs in a start and their 2.64 ERA is second-best in the majors at the moment.

"(Excellent starting pitching) sets the tone," Farrell said after his staff allowed three runs in a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays. "We haven't clicked (Nos.) 1-9 offensively. To have the game in check, low-run games, we've talked about the importance of starting pitching."

We are not yet a month into the season, but Farrell seems to be the right guy for the job. Both on and off the field.

And after what happened on Monday, Boston could probably use a little joy right now.


* It's hard to get on the MLB schedule makers. They have to come up with a 162-game slate for 30 teams. It's not easy. Of course, nobody can predict the weather and there are going to be postponements in April. We know that. But was it necessary for the New York Mets to play seven straight games in Minnesota and Colorado? In that same vein, how is it possible that a New York team wasn't at home on Monday for Jackie Robinson Day? Maybe I'm wrong, but didn't Robinson break the color barrier in New York?

* San Francisco's Barry Zito came back to earth on Tuesday, as he was battered by the Milwaukee Brewers for nine runs in just 2 2/3 innings. He hadn't issued a run all season and his loss was the first since Aug. 7 of last season, a stretch that included 16 wins for the Giants, including the postseason. Maybe this means that whatever hex Zito put on Tim Lincecum to steal his ability has worn off.

* Milwaukee Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo became the latest Major League Baseball player to be nabbed for drunk driving. And sadly, again MLB will do nothing about it. These players make millions of dollars. In the last few years, there has been a player killed by a drunk driver, as well as another one killed while driving drunk. What else has to happen so that MLB can start handing out penalties for this?