With the Boston Red Sox getting rid of manager Bobby Valentine as soon as the season ended, there are rumors going around that the AL East’s last-place club is interested in prying away John Farrell, the current manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Most Jays’ fans probably wouldn’t have a problem with this and some of them may even be willing to drive the 50-year-old former pitcher to the airport if he decides to leave town.
As with just about every other major professional sports franchise in Toronto, the Blue Jays had a woeful season and didn’t come anywhere near making the postseason. Farrell was brought in to manage the club at the end of the 2010 baseball season and promised a great deal to Jays’ fans when he first came upon the scene. He said he’d change the team’s fortunes and Toronto would have a squad the city could be proud of.
Sadly, like many before him, he and the team failed to live up to those lofty expectations. Farrell talked a pretty good game when he came to town, but it didn’t translate into on-field success. The Jays finished the season with a record of 73-89 and had to sweep the Minnesota Twins in the final week to make sure they didn’t reach 90 losses. But not only did the Jays take it on the chin on the baseball diamond, Farrell also took it there in the clubhouse as well.
Some of the team’s veterans, such as Omar Vizquel and Adam Lind claimed that the club doesn’t have any leadership with Vizquel adding that Farrell isn’t strict enough in the clubhouse and allows players to keep making the same mistakes over and over. The local broadcasters also got in on the act with former Jays’ catcher Gregg Zaun also criticizing the skipper and the way the team was run.
There are those who feel Farrell is getting a raw deal here though when it comes to criticism as they point out that the ream suffered numerous injuries to key players. The most damaging was arguably to Jose Bautista, one of the best sluggers in the game, and several pitchers were also sidelined. However, all ball clubs have to battle through injuries and adversity and the Jays simply didn’t manage to do it. In fact, Farrell’s winning percentage this year was .451, which represents the seventh-worst in history for the Jays, who have now been in the league for 36 years.
When you consider that the franchise lost over 100 games in each of its first three seasons, Farrell’s mark looks even worse. But oddly enough, the Red Sox are apparently interested in him. Valentine was fired by Boston after finishing in last place with just 69 wins, which was just four less than the Jays achieved. They may be so interested in him since he was a member of the Red Sox organization back 2006, but he’s still got one year to go in Toronto as he signed a three-year contract when he joined the club.
Farrell was Boston’s pitching coach between 2006 and 2010 and worked under former manager Terry Francona, who was fired after last year’s September meltdown in Beantown. Indications are that the Jays probably won’t step in the way of Farrell if he wants to rejoin Boston. Toronto hasn’t offered him a contract extension and it’s unlikely they want him after his contract runs out anyway. However, they wouldn’t really want to lose him for nothing since he’s still under contract.
If the Red Sox want him that badly then chances are the Jays are going to seek some form of compensation for Farrell. This isn’t unique as the Chicago White Sox received compensation when former manager Ozzie Guillen headed to the Miami Marlins. The Jays might take advantage of the situation and offer Farrell to Boston in some sort of deal. It’s obvious that Toronto has numerous holes to fill and if Farrell doesn’t figure in their future plans they may as well cash in on him.
Of course, if this happened, Toronto would then be looking for a new field manager. A name that has been mentioned in the city for a couple of years now is Sandy Alomar Jr., who the Jays interviewed before hiring Farrell. Alomar took over the manager’s reins for the Cleveland Indians during the last week of the ball season after interim boss Manny Acta was let go and it’s believed the Indians want to sign him to a contract. Alomar’s a popular figure in Cleveland since he spent 11 years there as a player. However, the Indians are also reportedly interested in Francona and his pair of World Series rings. This means if one of Alomar and Francona are hired, the other is still looking for a job.
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos listened to Farrell’s promises when he was hired, but like a politician’s they turned out to be nothing more than empty words. Fans in Toronto are finally getting fed up with the city’s pro sports teams and their constant losing and fans are now starting to stay home as a form of silent protest. This means Anthopoulos is running out of time when it comes to serving up a winning team. Farrell managed a the team to a .500 record in his first year with the Jays winning 81 games, but instead of improving the club this year they got worse.
Anthopoulos might as well move Farrell now if the Red Sox want him because another sub-par year in Toronto next year could seriously harm Farrell’s reputation as a big league manager. There’s no sense in signing him to a new deal now even if he’s kept on for next season. If the club doesn’t improve they’ll have to buy him out. If he does start the season as the team’s manger in 2013 the only sensible thing to do to see how the team performs before coming to a decision on his employment.
This is a possibility, but unless the Jays significantly upgrade their team, especially the pitching, the franchise will likely see the same results no matter who’s managing the players. The Jays don’t have to break the bank to improve, they just have to trade and draft wisely. The Oakland A’s are the blueprint for this as they won 94 games this season and won the AL West Division with baseball’s lowest payroll and several rookie pitchers.
While Farrell certainly can’t be called the worst manager the Jays have ever had, he’s definitely not going to be mistaken for their best either. It’ll be interesting to see if the club hangs onto him or if Boston can offer them something in return for his services. If Farrell does leave Toronto, he’ll do so with a 154-170 record and a .475 winning percentage.