|The Blue Jays didn't have plans to let Farrell walk. Now they ship him to a division rival ... for Mike Aviles? What gives? (AP)|
Here's the strangest thing about the Red Sox bagging John Farrell as their next manager: If he's so good, why are the Toronto Blue Jays simply allowing him to walk?
Especially for compensation that's not exactly going to rock their world? Infielder Mike Aviles?Whoooo, well in that case. ...
This is what I want to know, if I'm a Red Sox fan scraping myself out of the gutter after the wreckage that was 2012.
The Blue Jays had instituted an organizational policy prohibiting any employee to leave for greener pastures if the new job was simply a lateral move. Well, unless the Red Sox suddenly produce in-their-primes David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Jim Rice and Luis Tiant, this is what's known as a lateral move.
The Jays finished four games ahead of Boston in the standings this summer. Farrell is leaving his post as manager of the Jays to accept a job as manager of the Red Sox. Lateral. Move.
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Clearly, Farrell and Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos are on different pages in the organizational playbook. This isn't necessarily to suggest that Farrell is flawed as a manager. One highly respected person I spoke with recently who is close to the Blue Jays insists that their underachieving ways this summer were not the fault of the manager, and that Farrell is still learning a few things and one day will be a very fine manager.
That all may be true. But the nagging question here is, do the Blue Jays know something the Red Sox don't? And after the Red Sox lit a fuse to their 2012 season by hiring Bobby Valentine, their track record isn't exactly all that smooth in the managerial hiring department.
Omar Vizquel's very public comments criticizing Farrell late in the season notwithstanding -- the general consensus is that Vizquel was out of line and did not exactly exert the type of positive veteran influence for which the Jays were hoping in the clubhouse -- the Jays did not get better as they went along under Farrell.
The Red Sox know Farrell well, keeping him on their short list of managerial candidates ever since he spent a couple of seasons as pitching coach under Terry Francona. Insider knowledge counts for something.
Even in Toronto, Farrell, those close to him say, couldn't shake the passion of his first love, Boston. Even while managing the Jays, he continued to view the Red Sox as his dream job. So from that perspective, if you're the Jays, what are you going to do? As Boston native Bonnie Raitt sings, I can't make you love me. Sometimes, relationships just don't work.
Toronto saw Farrell as a manager, daily. And the Jays by all appearances were prepared to let him enter the final season of his contract in 2013, which essentially placed the term "lame duck" in neon in the clubhouse. Yet instead of negotiating an extension, they open the door and usher him to an AL East competitor.
Something is fishy near Lake Ontario. Even if Farrell lusted in his heart for Boston, if the Jays were sold on him, they'd keep him.
Toronto's pitching regressed in 2012, though much of that had to do with injuries. Their fundamentals -- particularly baserunning -- toward season's end were a train wreck, to put it charitably.
How much of that is on Farrell?
How much of it is on Anthonpoulos and Co. for not finding the right players?
We're about to find out. And the Red Sox had better pray it's the latter, else the clown manager, bro, reign of Bobby V will devolve into even more chaos in Boston.
Whether this move succeeds or not, at the very least, it will put some juice into all those Red Sox-Blue Jays games next summer. Because you know Toronto will want to blast the Red Sox, and that feeling will only get stronger each time the Jays get a gander of Farrell in the Red Sox dugout.