Keith Law had a chat with readers today over at, and… actually there wasn’t a single Jays-related nugget to be found. Fortunately for us, though, we aren’t without our weekly dose of KLaw, as earlier in the week he gave some insight into the Jays’ managerial situation– or, at least, why the Red Sox might be so damn interested in John Farrell, despite little resembling accomplishment during his two years here.

Asked this directly on Tuesday’s Baseball Today podcast, Law replies…

Farrell’s an interesting one. I’ve had some people in the Red Sox organization who worked with him say he’s actually really bright, he’s very personable, he’s very good with the pitchers, the players do like him, but he’s a little stubborn on some of the old school in-game stuff.

Maybe he goes into that bucket with the Dusty Bakers or Ron Washington, where the players love him. What they say about Farrell is that he’s actually a bright guy, and open-minded, and he– I believe he was in the Cleveland organization, too. I mean, Cleveland was one of the first organizations to adopt some of this stuff. Was he Cleveland to Pittsburgh? He was definitely in Cleveland at one point, going back a ways.

Anyway, so Farrell’s managing of the baserunning? He’s been horrible. Absolutely awful. That’s something I’d like to think you can work with if he’s somebody who buys into your overall philosophy, especially if, say, working with pitchers– which is a huge challenge, almost for any club– even clubs who have a lot of starting pitching depth, the Tampa Bays and the St. Louises, you’re going to have challenges, because you’re going to have guys like Jaime Garcia, who has this bizarre, yet extremely persistent home-road split. You’re going to have guys like Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal, where they’re projects as starters, and you know you could put them in the bullpen right away and they would be effective, but you might want to work them in, gradually build them up, so that they can become– I think in Rosenthal’s chance, you might have a number two starter. So there’s value in what Farrell might bring to the table, especially if you think, at heart, you’ve got an intelligent guy who’s open-minded.

That’s really the biggest thing I would ask for a manager. If we sit down with you after a game and we say, ‘You know what? That bunt in that situation, we’d rather that you didn’t do that, and here’s the explanation of why’– you know, not a ‘I’m the GM and I’m telling you to never bunt again.’ That’s really not how you want to run that relationship. If you get to that point with your manager, you probably need another manager. But to actually be able to have a regular conversation, where the manager might come back to you and say, ‘Look, here’s why I did what I did– here’s why I batted Joey Bagadonuts second tonight’– at least then it’s a dialogue and you feel like over time you’ll be able to get the manager to adapt a little bit more to the philosophy you and the front office are trying to put forth throughout the entire organization.

That’s the sense that I’ve gotten from people who’ve worked with Farrell in Boston and Toronto– the sense that I’ve gotten, is that he’s very intelligent, he’s very personable, he is open-minded, he just gets a little stubborn, especially with the base stealing stuff. That seems to be a real blind spot for him, and if I were looking at him for a– if I was in Boston, saying, alright, we want to bring you over, but you really have to stop trying to steal third base, because it doesn’t work.

It all sounds about right, doesn’t it? Granted, I wrote earlier in the week that the baserunning stuff is, in a lot of ways, overblown– the Jays’ baserunning numbers weren’t crazily out of line with the rest of the league, though they made the second most outs on the bases in MLB– but the third base stuff is tough to argue: they were tied with Baltimore for the most number of times caught stealing third base at eight, double the league average.

Still, what Law suggests about Farrell’s intelligence and open-mindedness is pretty much exactly what we were sold when the Jays selected him as their manager, following an exhaustive search. And it’s exactly why I don’t mind giving him another kick at the cat, even if the folks who are dead set against it aren’t exactly wrong that he truly hasn’t shown much, either.

Comments (26)

  1. How many times have the Jays successfully stole 3rd base this season? I can recall Gose and Rajai doing it a few times.

    • you either steal it or you don’t. “successfully…” is redundant

    • The Jays stole 3B 33 times, and were caught 8 times (about an 80% success rate). Between Gose and Davis they were 20 and 3, for an 87% success rate.

  2. Hey Stoeten, I’ve heard varying estimations about the wins difference a manager makes, but what do you think the win difference is between an average manager (say John Farrell) and an elite tactician of a manager? 3 games maybe?

    • and you think 3 games wouldn’t make a difference in making the playoffs or not?

      • That would depend on your team/the year I suppose. I wouldn’t have made a difference this year obviously.

  3. As you’d be wont to say, this is fuckin nails stuff from Law. I enjoy him best when he’s unscripted and making his remarks off the cuff.

  4. The Jays absolutely need this Joey Bagadonuts batting 2nd next season.

    • Rogers is too cheap to meet his 2 chocolate/2 vanilla demands.

    • I’d love to see them try it, the conventional wisdom in baseball has for years stopped teams from doing everything in their power to win the most amount of games, an example being saving the closer for the 9th inning to face the 6-7-8 batters instead of using him in the 7th to face the 3-4-5 batters.

      I would never fault a manager for thinking outside the box and screwing conventional baseball wisdom, which for the most part is garbage.

      • I am assuming you typo’d on your numbers. I get the thought process over guys getting upset about the closer role but think it gets overblown far too much. If a manager brings in his closer to face 3-4-5 in the 7th who does he bring in to faced 2-3-4 in the ninth? Yeah I can see using your “closer/best RP” in the 8th, but using him earlier than that is overblown.

  5. You covered the base stealing stuff very well.

    My argument is that if you take out maybe 4 of the most egregious running mistakes OR if they were healthy and even playing .500 ball, no one would have noticed a thing.

  6. and what exactly is this evidence that shows that farrell is intelligent? In fact all the evidence indicates that he’s an idiot

    • Yeah, because you’ve met him and spent long hours with him getting to know the guy, right? Your perspective is totally valid from the other side of the TV screen.

  7. Stoeten’s earlier piece on baserunning sort of tampers the perception that Farrell was too aggressive on the basepaths. Personally, I like the aggressive baserunning. What needs to be eliminated is boneheaded baserunning, which occured too often. We can all remember that particular baserunning attempt that went totally wrong (my favorite was and will always be Lawrie’s boneheaded attempt at stealing home with Joey Bats at the plate). Do you blame Farrell for that? Very doubtful that the call came from the bench.

    What Farrell instilled in spring training was to tell his players to be aggressive. Nothing wrong with that. Farrell can’t be blamed when you have boneheads like Lawrie trying to steal home.

    In terms of managing X’s and O’s, hard to give Farrell a definite grade given all of the injuries. Lineups were a challenge in the second half with all of th injuries to the regulars. The rotation was a mess. And the bullpen became an issue with Santos going down which led to the horrible Coco Show. Farrell could be better in managing his bullpen, but first, AA needs to find some quality starters for the rotation. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter what the manager does with the bullpen, as they will be burnt out by July.

    • Agreed that aggressive baserunning isn’t a bad thing. However it seems clear to me that neither Rajai nor Lawrie can be ‘aggressive’ without being ‘remarkably fucking stupid’ at times. Then he needs to tell them to stop being so goddamn aggressive because it’s costing the team runs.

      Not sure whether this philosophy can reasonably be implemented mid-year or not. If he’s back next year and the stupid shit doesn’t stop, that’s totally on Farrell.

    • If players are running amok on the bases and are doing something as stupid as stealing home with Jose Bautista up, the onus is absolutely on the manager to straighten that out. He gives guys like Davis and Lawrie the green light on their own when it’s clear both can’t be trusted to figure out basic baseball situations.

      • +1 matt. looking at the baserunning numbers as a whole is interesting… but it is not as if all clubs have equal talent in this regard.

        it is the situational stuff that drives me mental. giving the green light to steal 3rd when you are down 3 runs in the 7th is stupid… and this is the type of mistake that farrell makes time and time again.

        i wasn’t crazy about how he managed the bullpen, either… but i understand there is room for other opinions on this. it was his stubborn insistence that the trusted relievers only pitched when the club had the lead… so there would be situations where you are down one run in the 7th inning in fenway and there some dude who just got called up from vegas pitching in that spot. the concept of leverage seemed completely lost on farrell.

  8. So Law compares him to two of the worst managers in baseball, both of which have been unable to carry very stacked teams to a championship.

    • Well… Washington did take his teams to back-to-back World Series, and I don’t see too many other managers also doing that over the past decade.

  9. I’d just like this nonsense to be over one way or the other. AA has a ball club to pull together. He’s got enough on his plate without this bullshit. If he’s gonna need a new manager as well he may as well find out now. And I think he will. If they were holding onto Farrell I suspect they would have already shut it down. I think there is a damn good chance that they’re simply dickering over compensation. The Sux will likely offer prospects. AA needs a veteran–and credible–pitcher…

    • I see that it’s annoying, but don’t see the urgency. Not like this is keeping AA from doing his evaluations of available players. Plus, he did a manager search 2 years ago so it’s not like he’s starting from scratch.

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