A Blairrell of Laughs

… and I’ll be headed straight fer that door so fucking fast it’ll make yer gad-damn head spin! 

Jeff Blair was at his absolute Blairsy-est in the pages of Wednesday’s Globe and Mail– assuming anybody actually goes to the trouble of printing those out anymore– ruminating on the still-unrelenting John Farrell saga, and the identity at the very core of the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, in ways that make you really want to believe he’s got it spot on, but that often crumble given enough scrutiny.

Funnily, in one of his more prescient bits, that’s exactly the sort of trick Blair suggests Farrell has pulled. “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,” he writes, groping, perhaps, towards exploring what I figure is as good a guess as any as to how the Farrell experiment has possibly gone wrong so quickly. But insights like this– and his gorgeous excoriation of 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”– are a little too few and far between in a piece that, for my taste, is built largely on some questionably assumptions, assuming it even wants to go anywhere new.

He digs himself a hole in paragraph two:

“Nothing leaks like a lousy Boston Red Sox team, starting from ownership on down. 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,” he writes, “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.”

It’s a cute shortcut to what might be a core, underlying point– that Farrell himself is behind the chatter, and is desperate to get out (though in my bleariness when writing last night, I think I missed somehow that he’s suggesting it’s Boston’s ownership who’s doing the leaking)– and one that could certainly may be true, and that I’d be inclined take a little more seriously than I might from another source, given that Blair generally seems rather plugged-in. But it is, nonetheless, merely a shortcut. It’s not a smoking gun– and neither is Blair’s supposed truism that “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.”

Were they inarguable– if Farrell or Larry Lucchino and company were truly the only plausible sources of the rumours, and Anthopoulos in a position where he had to offer an extension or cut the manager loose– that sure as shit would be a story. But how are they possibly? How have we eliminated a deepening, self-fulfilling game of broken telephone within the self-interested Boston media that’s driving the story? For what reason does the old “lame duck” trope have any power over a club’s decision-making except that it’s supposed to, and gives the media an easy story to keep in their back pockets?

Why does it not hold– why the hell shouldn’t it hold– that, exactly as Anthopoulos has suggested, once you strip away all the old dogma, a manager’s contract is really no more than an agreement on remuneration? Because of some notion, specific only to sports, that the club would be operating in bad faith by not extending a year from the end of his contract? That his status increases the likelihood that he’ll lose the room, as though that’s not possible in any other circumstance?

I don’t think there are good answers for any of these questions, and perhaps that’s why Blair inevitably tacks back toward the same murk that characterizes every damn story about the Farrell saga, including its few concrete central points: that the Sox want him; that it’s hard to make a fair, rational assessment of what he’s done here; and that the Jays say they’re committed to him and to their policy of not letting employees interview with other clubs unless a promotion is involved, but because they were theoretically open to asking an exorbitant price for him when we went through this whole fucking dog and pony show the first time, last year, and because a few people– in Boston, magically– have word of a supposed rift between he and Anthopoulos, apparently anything is possible.

These stories always come back to that, because that’s all we really know. But hey, it’s fun trying to find fifty different ways to write it, huh? Not that I’m not entirely guilty of it myself, as well.

Comments (66)

  1. I can’t wait for all this to be over so we can focus on free agents and trades.

    • Stoeten should just humour us and blog about imaginary trades.

      • I can’t get over the fact that this is now 2 (two!) straight days with an AM DJF post.

      • Imaginary video game scenario!

        Step 1: Sign Ortiz for 2 years, $26 million.
        Step 2: Sign Scutaro for 2 years, $14 million.
        Step 3: Trade Escobar plus a lower level prospect for Anderson.
        Step 4: Trade JPA + Alvarez + Norris for Garza.
        Step 5: Win.

        • Fuck off to all of those steps. Except maybe Scutaro. But especially Garza.

        • That seems like an awful lot for one year of Garza.

        • oh lord. that is brutal.

          Step 1; okay.
          step 2 no.
          step 3. Oakland laughs in your face
          Step 4. overpay
          step 5 probably wouldnt happen

          Just trade for cabrera (2b) Masterson, and choo.

          sign ortiz, and one mid level starter and you’re good to go

          • What about offering Hamilton 5/$100M? Is he worth it? Would he take it?

            Then you plug Escobar and Hech up the middle, and spent the next five years trying to scrounge up starting pitching.

        • the suggestion for 1 year of Garza is dumb so I strongly disagrree. I would bundle those 3 or some combo therof for a big stick like Upton
          Sign Scutaro-sure but Big Papi w/b Frank Thomas all over agin-nothanks.
          And, Anderson had a good game lat night but is essentially a shitballer-remember even Laffey pitched a 4=0 shutout for fsakes and we ain’t going fwd with him

          • Anderson is FAR from a shit baller….

          • Trading Norris while he still has value, his stock appears to be dropping fast. Can add him into the Yunel for Anderson deal if you think Oakland would reject it and think that you are paying too much for Garza.

            JPA isn’t all that valuable, at least in my mind.

            Alavarez is the biggest piece, and I still like him, but would be willing to part with him for a better starter now.

            Garza deal would be on contingent that Rogers is willing to pony up some cash for him (along with Scutaro and Ortiz) and contingent probably on getting a negotiation window with him for a couple days, to see if you think you are close and can resign him.

            Ortiz is far from Frank Thomas, who was 39 and coming off only one good year. Ortiz will be 37, and is coming off 3 all-star seasons (not that that means anything, but he has been really good) and has shown improvements each year with a decreasing strikeout rate and consistent walk rate.

            Anderson is for from a shitballer. He had a 2.72 FIP with a 2.57 era this season (albeit, 57 IP) but his last relative healthy season (2010 with 112 IP) he had a 3.21 FIP and 2.80 era. He is only 24, with 2 more years of team control, and is a former top 10 prospect in all of baseball. He is awesome, but the only concern with him is his health.

    • dougiejays, I would love to see the Jays be players for Hamilton. Why not? Especially with that chunk of change they’re getting from television revenue. I mean, he’ll get hurt for a few games but that’s why he won’t get the 9 year deal an ironman like Fielder got.

      I really don’t see the downside. There’s nobody in the system with his skill set. Hamilton can play in left and Rasmus and Gose can platoon in center for all I care. Nobody in the AL has an answer for a Bautista-Hamilton-Edwin combination.

  2. WTF. who the hell cares anymore. Its not like Farrell started 30 games for the Jays this year, and chances are good that he won’t next year either.

  3. I have wondered where all of the smoke is coming from. Someone from within the Jays’ front office? Unlikely. Is it Farrell who is behind all of the smoke signals? That sounds more plausible. Is there a third source? Who the fuck knows.

    This issue has to be resolved one way or the other. But not at the cost of a contract extension. Farrell has done nothing to merit a contract extension at this point.

  4. I honest to God don’t get the fuss. Let him leave. I don’t care if we get nothing in return. He hasn’t done jack shit for the Blue Jays, he is a poor bullpen manager, a poor in game strategist and follows too many retarded old school practices. I can’t say he is actively hurting the team, but he sure as shit isn’t helping it.

    I don’t understand what all the fuss is. Cut him loose.

    • I can understand the sentiment, but if Boston wants him we should extract our pound of flesh. We can just as easily let him go next year when we don’t have leverage and fuck Boston in the process.

      • Yep my sentiments exactly. In fact I think I already posted about it. Keep the schmuck and the Sux can spend another year pining for him. Which will sure help to make Bobby Valentine 2.0 feel real comfortable. Then let him go and get someone in there with a little more experience. When was the last time we had a manager who had actually managed in the majors and was not called Cito Gaston? I think we have to go back to Jim Fregosi.

    • I agree

  5. It’s the entitled Boston press pumping out the crap. We need a manager that can teach fundamentals and not to expect half the runs scored by home runs. Never seen so many 3rd strike calls. Protect the plate gents !

  6. I’ll say it again — I’m yet to find any evidence that a manager – especially in the AL East — matters nearly as much as some think they do. I couldn’t care less if Farrell leaves, and that has nothing to do with my opinion of him per se. It’s that I just don’t think managers matter.
    Can’t wait for this to be over.

    • You’re wrong.If there was only one way to play the game,you’d be correct. But there are a ton of decisions during a game, there’s over all philosophy,strategies,etc.
      One example is that Farrell took over the number one homerun team in baseball and implemented a small ball strategy,totally changing the in game management.
      Cito abhored walks and would yank the pitcher at the first sign of trouble. Farrell lets them try to work out of it.
      Which is better?Depends on the players and the situations.
      Sorry it isn’t cut and dried for you. You’re missing a great part of the game.
      ” It ain’t luck, it’s Buck”

      • I don’t disagree that it’s fun to watch. I’m just unconvinced that it matters.

        • You’re unconvinced that there’s strategy in management of baseball games?
          Or that different mangers utilize different strategies?
          And those strategies produce different results?
          As with Stoeten,you and I watch the game differently.

  7. Well they do matter for in game decisions-a few computer models have indicated or purport to indicate that the manager’s ingame decisons and use of personnel can win (orlose) 5 games a year (3%).
    So, in a year like this we could have had me doing it and making all kinds of retarded decisions and maybe we finish 5th instead of 4th-whoopty fuck.
    However, if we had 88 wins, with this BS, 93 would look a whole lot better.
    In any event I am ambivalent-if we get a decent player trade him-fuck it and get someone else.
    Otherwise let him manage his last year effectively on a 1 year contract much like Walter Alston of LA used to do for 23 straight years and fuck this “lame duck” argument.
    Blair has turned into a media fukstik, never mind that he cannot finish a sentence without either stuttering or fucking repeating himself. He might be OK in print but fucking horrible to listen to IMO.
    Get on with the trades and Fa, then we’ll have s’thing to talk about

    • Assuming the computer model is correct, you’re saying that a good manager could add 5 wins above another (replacement-level) manager.

      When we talk about players, 5 WAR players aren’t easy to come by. So maybe managers are more important than we give them credit for.

      • Great point.

      • I don’t know what that guy is talking about in terms of computer models (he seems to make up reference material) but the only place I have seen this explored very much was at beyond the boxscore, where someone looked at expected wins and compared them to actual wins (based on WAR and pythagorean win totals). The results were that the worst manager accounted for about -5 wins / season, the best manager (Mike Scoscia) about +5 wins. For what it’s worth, Farrell was worth -1.3 win in 2011, and -1.4 wins in 2012. For comparisons sake, Joe Maddon averages -1.8. Note that “manager WAR” is a very new concept, and is likely attributing more to the manager than should be.

        • Never heard of ” manager WAR” but I believe you when you say it exists.

          And this isn’t directed at you but at the concept.
          Holy fuck, now that’s one of the craziest fucking things I’ve heard.Un fucking real.

          • What is seldom mentioned is that a manager has a chance of “setting the tone” in the clubhouse and on the field. This used to be an authoritarian/militant model, but has shifted to at one extreme, Ron W. as cheerleader and at the other to Buck S. as zen master-being-solid-and-stable. John F. is still not settled in his approach and was sorely tested this year. He is still apparently learning (I argue that is true) and will be better for this year, next.

        • This is one way to evaluate a manager however wouldn’t it be more important for manager to have a positive impact the teams expected wins (i.e. score more runs than you give up) than try to out perform the teams expected wins?

          I would suspect that system that beyond the boxscore is describing could make a good manager look bad, for instance, in the examples below the manager of team A would look better:

          Team A:
          Wins/Loses 81-81
          Runs for/against – 750/800

          Team B:
          Wins/Loses 95-67
          Runs for/against – 1000/600

          Who’s to say that an average manager wouldn’t have had team A score 850 runs, or that team B had no business scoring 1,000 runs?

        • “this is painfully apparent when we at one-run strategies and their impact on win expectancy. The results, which consider sac bunts, stolen base attempts, and IBB are stunning. Those managers who best utilized these tactical tools influenced their team by an average of about half a win in the standings” (pg, 250 , Baseball Prospectus, Extra Innings)

          While there were seasons where managers (considering only this data – IBB, sac bunts, and SBa) managed to cost their team 5 win, there is no instance of a manager earning their team more than .8 wins. The conclusion to be drawn is that “those who used those tactics best were also those who used them least.”

          Of course a manager does much more than that, but I thought the information somewhat relevant to the discussion.

  8. I also think the “lame duck” is bullshit BTW. The concept assumes that players listen to a manager and/or want to win games based on the manager’s contract status, which is completely absurd.

  9. The ball’s in Boston’s court. You want Farrell? Make us an offer. We don’t like it we keep him. If it helps us we move him. Otherwise you and your press corps should commence fucking off. It’ s not our fault you signed Valentine.

    • No it’s not. And it would behoove us and the rest of the league to realize that the guy that hired Valentine is still in place in Boston. That has to be worth a plus 5.

  10. Maybe its just too early for me to read English but it looks like you’re accusing Blair of implying that Farrell is behind the leaks. Reading that article it seems 100% obvious that he’s blaming Luccino, Cherington and co. Hence his line that “nothing leaks like a lousy Boston team” which precedes the sentence about “getting it from someplace.”

    That fits with what is obviously the truth – the same brilliant media masters who engineered ham-fisted smear campaigns against Manny, Beckett, Francona and (soon) Bobby V think these rumors will force the Jays hand. Hopefully what it actually shows is that Luccino is desperate enough to do something stupid. Fingers crossed.

    • You might be entirely right. Or probably are. Fixing. Thanks.

    • I also assumed that Blair was referring to the Boston front office as the main leak.

    • The way Boston eats its own makes me wonder why Farrell would be enthusiastic about going to Boston, especially after they smeared Francona.

      Personally, I’m taking AA and Farrell at face value: he’s committed to being here and AA will extend him when the important job of plugging on-field holes is done.

      This whole shitstorm of tampering rolled in from the Massachussetts coast. They can go fuck themselves. I would be filing a complaint with MLB if I were Beeston.

      • Of course Farrell would want to take that job. Let’s be real hear. If you’re career is managing baseball teams and you have a chance to manage the Boston Red Sox, you take it. Few jobs in the sport are as iconic (maybe NYY and Dodgers) Nothing about the last 2 years changes that. It also pretty much guarantees you a gig somewhere else down the line with another team. How many Blue Jays managers ever managed in the big leagues again? The only one I can think of is Bobby Cox.

        • Jimy Williams and Jim Fregosi come to mind, but that’s not the point.

          The Sox are a mess right now – even more than the Jays. I would think that Farrell may want to finish the job he started here and actually accomplish something. With a couple of key offseason acquisitions, that may be possible. Even with a huge pile of cash, I don’t see Boston going anywhere next year.

  11. I know the Jays have a policy of no movement unless for a promotion, but they also have to look at it this way – if they aren’t willing to make a commitment to him beyond this year, but Boston is willing to give him a 5 year contract for example, shouldn’t this represent some kind of exception? If they don’t let him go and then fire him partway through the year or at the end of the year, they’ll come off as dicks, right or wrong.

    • Wrong.

    • The only team that looks like a bunch of dicks is Lucky Larry and the Bosox. Talk about fucking lame. Find your own fucking manager!

    • Because coming off as “good guys” and loyal has had such an impact on free agents right?

      • I’m not saying it has; money is what matters.

        I’m saying that the Bosox look pretty desperate chasing after Farrell year after year. Valentine was a joke this year and their front office, since Epstein left, is increasingly looking like a joke too.

    • Dicks or not, every manager’s contract carries that risk (getting fired at any time in the life of the contract) and every MLB team at some point or other has fired a manager in the middle of a season.

  12. Why is it these writers always talk about “the real world” saying that managers can’t work without long-term job security but for most in the world that’s exactly how contract labour goes…

    • I think it’s less about the manager’s peace of mind and more about the hotshot 22-year old player who, having excelled at every lower level, already thinks the manager’s suggestions to do x, alter y are stupid and believes he won’t need to deal with the manager’s b.s. next year anyway, so why even bother trying?

      If the player knows he’ll be accountable to that manager for several more years, the player will probably be more open-minded to listening to his suggestions.

    • Exactly. Everyone who works is on a revolving 2 week fucking contract. These managers have at least a year so fuck em. Like I said, if it was good enuf for Walter Alston in LA for 23 straight years and he was known as a great manager that he can be good enuf for all the modern day Einsteins in the dugout

  13. This is getting to be like watching Nick Kypreos and that retarded shithead, Doug McLean arguing about when The NHL will actually talk.

    Fuck it, let American Dad go and hire Sandy Alomar.

  14. There are some good reasons why Farrell would want out. It’s easy to see that he was really saddled with a short and weak bench.

    It seemed like the lineup was written with too much consultation with the GM and to appease under-performing players. Farrell did not or was not able to put his strongest lineup out there every night. The GM is interested in experimenting and seeing how players do over a period of days or weeks. The manager needs to win that day.

    • Oh fuck that, Farrell can’t bitch about his bench when he insists on an 8 man bullpen.

  15. I enjoy watching a post season game with Bob Costas.

    • So, you and Bob get some beer and pizza followed by hot manly sex?

      “Cans of DAB flying everywhere”

  16. I thought it was a pretty good article – and I agree that lame-duck status does, in fact, matter to people in the game.

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