Not Without Our Farrell

Over the weekend, news broke out of Boston that the Red Sox, who suddenly find themselves managerless after scapegoating Terry Francona out of town in the most embarrassing way possible, have had internal discussions considering the pursuit of former pitching coach and current manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, John Farrell.

Aside: I think I’m now going to refer to what happens in my stomach after consuming particularly disagreeable Indian food as internal discussions.

Of course, this has prompted a sane and reasonable response from Blue Jays fans on sports talk radio shows and the Internet, including assumptions that if they were to pry Farrell away from the organization for which he’s currently employed, Toronto would receive Dustin Pedroia as compensation.

When not fantasizing over ridiculously lopsided returns, fans have been generally upset over the prospect of the Blue Jays appearing as a feeder organization for their American League East rival. That’s far from the case, here. Any manager who came up through an organization, only to take the reins of another, would be rumoured for a job back with their old team if a position were to unexpectedly come available only a short time after their departure.

No one would claim that the White Sox are a feeder organization for the Marlins, and yet they were able to lure Ozzie Guillen from Chicago to Miami. No one is suggesting that the Red Sox are a smaller organization than the Cubs, and yet they managed to land Boston’s general manager.

The only difference between the Red Sox and other organizations is the expectations from the local media that luring the old coach back would be as simple as asking.

It’s not. Don’t let your insecurities as a fan of the only Canadian team in Major League Baseball get the best of you. Farrell has a good thing going in Toronto, and the media-savvy manager appears far too intelligent to take that for granted. One only need to look at how his friend Francona was treated by the organization, that may or may not be interested in courting him, to find a reason for Farrell to stay in Toronto.

His response to the rumours tells us little, other than media training can be effective at reassuring in the most noncommittal way possible:

I have no idea and no comment on what’s happening in Boston. I am focused right now on preparing for what is best for the Blue Jays in 2012.

Losing John Farrell wouldn’t be great, but it would be far from the end of the world for the Toronto Blue Jays, in terms of both optics and performance. Anyone imagining a Major League player in return for a manager is blatantly unaware of the amount of wins a manager is responsible for on any given team, or what the Florida Marlins traded for Ozzie Guillen. What the Blue Jays could expect, if they requested compensation, is a prospect of some ilk, but little notoriety.

And they’d probably be better off for it. But again, it’s not worth working ourselves into a tizzy over. While certainly a figure head / lightning rod, a typical manager’s measurable impact on a team is the equivalent of a bench player, not an All-Star second baseman. It’s important to remember that John Farrell is John McDonald, not Dustin Pedroia.

Comments (17)

  1. Let him go and grab Francona.

  2. I would love that. Of course, I assume he will take some time off and wouldn’t be ready to take a position immediately.

  3. The Marlins lured Ozzie only after the White Sox wouldn’t extend him….. ie: they wanted a change anyway. Theo to the Cubs is a direct by-product of this entirely enjoyable Red Sox September blow-up where THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

    I can’t speak for the Jays talk callers who may or may not be serious about the Pedroia-esque comp claims, but it just doesn’t sit well with me that Anthopoulos has this open-door policy about letting anyone in management walk to another job, lateral or not, inter-division or not, with no consequence for the “acquiring” team.

    This bit about letting their employees pursue opportunities to better themselves, even if it’s just financially, is nonsense when we’re talking about a lateral move. Why not extend that to the players then? Bautista outperformed his deal – let him walk! /end hyperbole.

    The Red Sox apparently played/are playing hardball with the Cubs about comp for Theo, I see no reason why Anthopoulos shouldn’t do the same.

    Because fuck the Sox, you know?

  4. If AA can turn Farrell into Francona + a prospect – could anyone deny his silent assassin status?

    • “Our policy as an organization is that we don’t deny permission to talk to any employees,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told the Globe and Mail. “Top to bottom, throughout the organization.”

      Not denying permission to speak with other teams (which is the policy) is a much different thing than not requiring compensation should the employee decides that he wants to leave… Just because the Jays may allow an employee to interview for other jobs doesn’t necessarily mean that they will allow the employee to walk away to a lateral position without compensation.

  5. But but but what if Farrell turns out to be a GENIUS like TLR? <_<

  6. Listening to the fan this morning on the way to work was painful – mouth breathing hockey fans calling in suggesting they would only let go of Farrell for a “top MLB player” and a first-round draft pick. Ya. Brady and Lang seemed to be on board with this. So bad.

  7. While I sort of agree with the general thrust here about the impact of a manager and the realities of any kind of compensation I think there’s a pretty solid difference here that you’re ignoring that feeds the perception in this case. Guillen had managed the Sox for 8 seasons and had all manner of run-ins with the higher ups. Epstein had run the Red Sox for 9 years and had a history of clashing with management.

    Those are pretty different situations than a promising(or, at least, perception being that he did an alright job) first year manager bailing after a year for a division rival.

    • Agree with you, re: perception

      If the Jays allow this to happen, I think they’ll find that many of the casual Jays fans will see this as either:

      a) A slap in the face
      b) “Business as usual” with the Jays not caring about their team
      c) The Jays tacitly approve of the notion that the Yankees and Red Sox are “upgrades” over their own organization.

      None of these are good things, and allowing Farrell to walk will not resonate well in the market. Among the casual fan, it will be “just another guy the Jays let leave”.

      The Casual Fan are the ones the Jays have to appeal to. The “hardcores” are going to be there, no matter what.

  8. “Our policy as an organization is that we don’t deny permission to talk to any employees,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told the Globe and Mail. “Top to bottom, throughout the organization.”

    Permission for other organizations to “talk to” is not exactly permission for the employee to tear up their contract and leave without consequence. Big difference.

    If people are so intent on taking the quote as gospel, all of the players are ‘employees’ too….

  9. “measurable impact” That’s the crux of it, isn’t it? Why would we expect that most things a manager does would be measurable? Maintaining a healthy clubhouse, ensuring players remain confident in their talents, and listening to their hitting/pitching coaches. It all matters, but none of it is measurable.

    • Agreed. I think a manager does affect the number of wins a team has. Farrell himself admitted he made mistakes in 2011 which cost the team games.

      We all remember how Cito managed in 2009 & 2010Jays blogs would lose half their traffic if managers like Cito followed baseball logic.

      It is extremely unlikely Farrell will go to the \red sox, but AA should issue a press release or have a press conference to denounce this speculation just like he did to the man in white stealing signs fiasco

  10. I much prefer players over Farrell. Let him go and get some prospects.

    The Marlins gave up two prospects for Ozzie, and Ozzie was already on his way out, as Chicago didn’t want him back, and Ozzie switched league entirely. If you could get two prospects, or even a MLB player (Bard and/or Scutaro), you should force him onto Boston.

    Heck, make Brian Butterfield manager, and then move Murphy to 3rd base coach. That opens up a spot for Chad Mottola as hitting coach, without firing Murphy and potential pissing some guys on the team (Bautista) off. I think the coaching staff could be better.

  11. I still wouldn’t just let him walk away from his contract. Not only would it make the organization look bad to the fans and media, but it’s a great opportunity to turn a manager into something of actual value like the White Sox did.

  12. It’s settled then. The Sox will sign Johnny Mac out of the gate then trade him to the Jays as compensation for Farrell…

  13. I’d totally let him walk for compensation in the way of a prospect. I mean, if AA knew at the start of the year that hiring Farrell for one season would be the equivalent of gaining a Type A or Type B compensation pick, he’d be all over it, wouldn’t he?

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