Imagine how complicated this would be if John Farrell had a .500 record as Toronto Blue Jays manager. Or hadn’t overseen a club that sure looked like it lost its bearings as the train wreck that was the 2012 season played itself out.
This much we know: Nothing leaks like a lousy Boston Red Sox team, starting from ownership on down. So if folks like Peter Gammons are writing or saying there were issues between Farrell and Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, and that the same issues are enough to have Farrell looking to manage the Red Sox, they’re getting it from some place. They aren’t supposing it or making it up, and since the nudges and winks wouldn’t be coming from Anthopoulos, three guesses as to where they might be coming from. Three guesses as to the agenda.
Another known as Anthopoulos decides to either let Farrell go for some means of compensation or sign him to an extension – sorry, the whole bring-him-back-on-the-last-year-of-his-contract thing might work in baseball fantasy land but it doesn’t fly in the real world – is that nobody knows the type of manager Farrell is or might be. Neither do the Red Sox, who remember him as a good pitching coach – and whose current brain trust thought hiring Bobby Valentine to manage their team was a splendid idea.
And that’s why this whole affair is so odd. What does it say that after two full seasons, there are likely as many Blue Jays fans who have no clue what the hell the Red Sox see in Farrell as fans who can see exactly why the Red Sox would want Farrell to manage their team. Because that’s the thing with Farrell, isn’t it? He looks like he should be a good manager – he’s got good face – and you kind of, sort of, maybe want to see him be a success. But the bone-headedness of his team on the field, and the disquieting signs of a clubhouse that in the very least seemed to lack maturity if not direction, suggests something’s amiss. And yet … remember when Joe Torre bombed in his first job as New York Mets manager? Turned out he actually knew his way around a manager’s office, after all.
Farrell’s work in 2012 is easy to pick apart, never mind the nonsense from Omar Vizquel, who in truth took a victory lap around the league on the Blue Jays’ dime without making much of an impact in the clubhouse, other than offering a ham-handed defence of Yunel Escobar’s homophobic eye-black slur.
Managers ought to be graded first and foremost on their handling of the bullpen, and once Farrell realized he’d been handed a stiff in Francisco Cordero and Anthopoulos added some power arms he improved measurably in that area. Yet the Blue Jays were an undisciplined lot on the base paths, and of the key players on the team only Edwin Encarnacion, Casey Janssen and Brandon Morrow can be said to have improved under Farrell. How much of that lies at Farrell’s feet or at those of his coaches as well as being a natural out-growth of crippling injuries is, truthfully, beyond the knowledge of anybody outside the clubhouse.
The silence surrounding Farrell’s status with the Blue Jays can mean several things: that he is talking extension with the Blue Jays but on his terms; that the Blue Jays and Red Sox are talking compensation behind the scenes, possibly at the presidents level with Larry Lucchino and Paul Beeston; or that after a spectacular miscalculation in hiring Valentine to manage the club for 2012, the Red Sox realize they need to get this right and have some concerns about what has happened in Toronto under Farrell.
Here we are, two years after Farrell was hired to great fanfare, and looking a further two years down the road any of these could be true: Farrell could be managing the Blue Jays, managing the Red Sox, managing nobody, or he could be Terry Francona’s pitching coach in Cleveland. That is a statement loaded with questions for several people, Anthopoulos more than anybody.