The anger at John Farrell’s betrayal is understandable, more than all this silliness of feeling screwed over by the Boston Red Sox and their allies in the media, or the void left by the acquisition of 31-year-old utility non-entity Mike Aviles as compensation instead of a sexy, power arm with a major-league pedigree.
But what really ought to sting for the Toronto Blue Jays this Monday morning isn’t the loss of Farrell’s tactical nous – frankly, they might do better if they conduct a properly thorough search, because Farrell remains an unknown commodity as a manager after two years in Toronto – as much as the realization that the past two seasons will look a total waste to many of their fans and consumers. One step forward, one step back; a sense that so many of the core players of this team have stood still while all around them the American League East Division goes through a ground-shaking transition.
The sexiness of those new uniforms and fancy TV commercials and buoyant TV ratings and Twitter stylings of cool guys Ricky Romero, J.P. Arencibia and Brett Lawrie suddenly seem almost pointless.
The Blue Jays look as if they’ve been bullied. Even if that’s not entirely the case, this is the issue facing Blue Jays president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston and general manager Alex Anthopoulos after Sunday’s news that they’d released Farrell to manage the Red Sox under cover of a meaningless swap of players of limited value.
The truth is for all the fantasy fliers on the Internet about Daniel Bard or Will Middlebrooks or Dustin Pedroia (sheesh!) coming back to the Blue Jays as compensation for Farrell, there wasn’t much the Blue Jays could do once the Red Sox followed up with a call of inquiry after the Blue Jays’ now former manager told Anthopoulos that managing the Red Sox would be his “dream job.”
It was said that the ball was in Anthopoulos’s court, and that was just nonsense. Honestly: would you want a guy managing your team after hearing his dream job was with one of your arch-rivals? You don’t think that was the underlying message of the discussions between Red Sox ownership and Beeston? Hence Mike Aviles.
I mean, really: a week of negotiating to get Mike Aviles?
And now the Blue Jays are looking once again for a manager, their sixth since 2002. Early signs are that names such as Sandy Alomar, Jr., and Tim Wallach (whom the Blue Jays did not receive permission to interview during the search that landed Farrell) will feature prominently, and there are unemployed managers with major-league experience such as Jim Tracy and Manny Acta on the market. There are some good names, then. But, say, wasn’t Farrell a good name at one point, too?
The savvy way to spin what happened this weekend would be to say that the Blue Jays don’t think Farrell’s worth the bother, and perhaps that message will be thrown out in the next couple of days.
In the meantime, I’m reminded of how when Paul Godfrey and J.P. Ricciardi ran the Blue Jays, they used to remind each other that the team’s owner – Rogers Communications, Ltd. – was busy people with important things to do and that they must guard against “sticker shock;” in other words, guard against blind-siding the company with negative financial news or something that could create marketing issues.
The guess here is Beeston and Anthopoulos must know that as well, especially given last week’s rumours of a rift between Beeston and his Rogers overlords. As poorly as this whole thing has played out for fans of the team, it can’t have played out much better up the corporate ladder.
Enough running in place. Enough with the one step forward, one step back. Anthopoulos and Beeston need a big leap forward in 2013. They must make this right.