Do not be surprised if in tonight’s foreign policy debate that after President Obama states that he killed Bin Laden if Mitt Romney retorts, “Well big deal, I understand that the Red Sox got John Farrell.”
Yes, the wait is finally over for Red Sox Nation as GM Ben Cherington announced a name they were familiar with naming Toronto manager and former Red Sox pitching coach, John Farrell as the next master of ceremonies of the Fenway circus. The relief amongst the Red Sox management was such that you almost expected them to break into a Coasters-like lyric in their announcement by singing,
But I’m like the Northwest Mounties
You knew I’ll bring him in someday
It is apparent that this deal was a fait accompli long before it was announced and the interviewing of Tim Wallach, Brad Ausmus, Tony Pena, and Louis C.K. was simply back-up or an exercise in the CYA process. Farrell had told Jay’s GM Alex Anthopoulos that he would like to leave for his “dream job” as manager of the Red Sox, despite the fact that he had one year remaining on his contract. Anthopoulos, wanted Farrell back despite 154-170 record, a pair of fourth-place finishes, and a variety of incidents speaking to a lack of discipline within the Jays clubhouse.
One incident was when Omar Vizquel, who is retiring and will end up in the Hall of Fame, told Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons:
“It’s part of the inexperience. If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it — they just let it go — we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. We have to stand up and say something right after that mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse. Sometimes you have to punish players because they’re making the same mistakes over and over again.
I think the coaching staff has a big responsibility to kind of get in there and tie things up a little, have a bit more communication with their players and try to make this thing happen the right way,” he said.
Look, I think a lot of mistakes were let go because it’s young guys. You expect mistakes from young guys. It needs to be talked about. It shouldn’t just be let go and say, ‘Ah, we have another day.’ You have to get on it. You have to say, ‘I didn’t like that play’ and let’s try and do something different. You have to talk it over and over again and how do you call it, be on top of that.”
On the other hand, one my contacts in the Toronto organization who I consider one of the most knowledgeable people in the game told me,
“I like John and the jury is still out as to his managerial capabilities….I would have loved to have seen the Blue Jays keep John and hire him here for another three or four years and I think he would have done well and brought playoff games back to the Rogers Center.
John is always learning on the job and he improved a lot over two years considering he had no managerial experience. I thought John related well to the players and the ones who maybe he didn’t should be moved.”
Farrell had a .475 winning percentage in his two years with Toronto but might I remind you that Terry Francona had a .440 winning percentage in his four years managing in Philadelphia before he joined the Red Sox.
We also know that Farrell is a good pitching coach, although as a manager the Jays staff in 2011 had a 4.34 ERA and in 2012 had a 4.64 ERA.
The question remains is whether Farrell is a good manager and right now the question remains secondary to the question as to whether Ben Cherington is a good GM. We do know he made a terrific deal in dumping the hugely expensive mistakes of Theo Epstein, but now he has to put together a team that needs a first baseman, shortstop, left fielder, right fielder, starting pitching, bullpen depth, and maybe a catcher and a center fielder.
Good luck, John, Jays, and Ben, you all will need it.