The good people at Rogers Sportsnet put up an innocent-enough poll this week, asking their readers (very likely Jays fans) if they’d be willing to part with manager John Farrell if it meant receiving pitcher Clay Buchholz as compensation.
The nearly half of respondents, died in the wool Jays fans as they appear to be me, did not greet the hypothetical situation with variations along the theme of “OH MY GOD, YES! MAKE IT HAPPEN” as one would expect. Nope, forty percent (FOUR-ZERO) of this sample of fans prefers keeping their steel-jawed field boss over a young pitcher with a favourable contract. (Update – numbers reversed, point remains. More than 1 is too many.)
Call me crazy. If I, as a baseball operation, have the opportunity to acquire a talented young pitcher with a team-friendly deal, I do it. If it costs me my field manager — Presidential as he might be — in the process, I still do it.
John Farrell is the man the Blue Jays selected after a very exhaustive search last winter. His knowledge of all sides of the business is very impressive; impressive enough to net him the job over more experienced candidates with more on-field experience.
But he is still just a field manager. His impact on the team is barely appreciable at best. A player, a young one with a proven track record and on-field results in the toughest of environments, helps the team win in more ways than a manager can even begin to.
Managers often suffix comments of their own role with teams with sentiments similar to “at the end of the day, it comes down to the players on the field.” No manner of coaching up turns a mediocre team into a good one. Adding good players is a very easy way to improve your team.
Talent wins. Front offices and coaching staffs are populated with incredibly talent people. The Jays under Alex Anthopoulos bring their on-field philosophy of “above-average players at every position” to their front office as well. Look at the way they hire experienced & smart baseball people at every turn. Talent at all levels matters.
The smartest front office minds are all attempting to do one thing: improve the product on the field. A pitcher like Buchholz improves the quality of players on the field in a way no manager can do: he does instantly and appreciably.
If the Jays asked for Buchholz as potential compensation for John Farrell, good on them. There is no fault in asking. There is fault, however, in thinking the team is better off with a 49 year-old guy than a 27 year-old guy when it comes time to play the games.
H/T to Marc Normandin of Over the Monster