Farrell is Gone, But What Does That Really Mean?
It’s official, according to Sean McAdam of the CSN New England via Twitter the Red Sox have signed John Farrell to be their manager and according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com via Twitter the compensation will be infielder Mike Aviles in return for Blue Jays relief pitcher David Carpenter.
Whilst in Boston, Farrell served as the pitching coach and apparently the manager in waiting. After years of the manager in waiting position he left before the spot was opened for him. Following the collapse after the 2011 season, Boston was ready for Farrell, but Farrell was long gone. This resulted in quite a number of rumours regarding Farrell’s status, but it was always curious how the rumours seemed to originate from Boston rather than from Toronto.
As the offseason moved on the rumours subsided and eventually fizzled away. Instead the Red Sox signed Bobby Valentine and most people seemed to be somewhat happy with the move, but as results became reality and the Red Sox produced their worst record since 2001 people became much less than enthused with Valentine. Once again the rumours came a flowin’, but I was still less than convinced that there was any truth to them.
Despite my disbelief the move has now happened, Boston ‘got their man’ and apparently with Farrell the feeling is mutual. As Mike Wilner told us on Twitter during Anthopoulos’ conference call with reporters the earlier rumours of Farrell to Toronto were false as was the idea that Anthopoulos and Farrell were at odds with each other regarding Omar Vizquel. As late as October 3rd Anthopoulos indicated that he was fully expecting Farrell to be the Blue Jays manager in 2013, it was only after Canadian Thanksgiving (October 8th) that AA and Farrell talked and Farrell indicated that if the chance for him to manage in Boston came that he would like to pursue that option.
In the eyes of some this has made Farrell seem like an evil, conniving figure in that it would appear that he wanted to be in Boston all along, but as John Lott said, “[It seemed that] once Farrell said he wanted to go to Boston, [the] Jays were not going to stop him.” To their credit the Blue Jays got a decent player in return in Mike Aviles, while he may not have been exactly what some fans were expecting he is a decent middle infielder that would work fine as a utility player or even a platoon player at 2B. Speculation may have brought up such names as Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa, but Mike Aviles is likely above the going rate that saw former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein traded for two non-Top 20 prospects from the Chicago Cubs before the 2012 season.
Whether or not you conclude that Boston ‘stole’ Farrell from the Blue Jays there’s always the possibility that the next manager might be better. I certainly won’t miss some of Farrell’s small ball tendencies or his mismanagement of the bullpen, even if he was proactive in things like shifting. Farrell was a fine manager, he seemed to be liked by the players and his tactical management wasn’t egregious when compared to the rest of the league, but the Blue Jays can do better. However now that he’s gone it leaves some uncertainty as to the state of the Blue Jays managerial position going forward, it could be better or it could be worse.
Some of the various names that have been discussed by the media include Brian Butterfield, Sandy Alomar Jr., Tim Wallach, Sal Fasano, and even Manny Acta. Of that list only Acta has significant enough major league managerial experience that one could base an outside assessment on, while we only have as much information about the other guys as we are told. That there will be an important distinction going forward as we on the outside don’t really have a clue as to how good any of these guys will be. Personally, I’d want Acta based on the information that is available, but even with that information we as an analytical baseball community haven’t completely been able to quantify a manager’s value due to the inability to measure some of the on field antics as well as the off field intangibles.
In the end no matter what happens the one cliché that states that a manager is only as good as his team should hold true. While we like to criticize any manager for the shortcomings of his team he generally doesn’t hold a huge stake in the overall outcome of the season. A bad manager may be able to ruin a team, but a good manager creates less stress for those of us watching, while also not hurting the chances of the team he has. The trade was necessary, the return was justified, and we are only able to wait and see what the future holds.