Keith Law had a chat with readers today over at ESPN.com, 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.