Posts tagged John Farrell

Farrell is Gone, But What Does That Really Mean?


Photo Courtesy of james_in_to via Flickr

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 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.

Discussing John Farrell’s Managerial Capabilities

Photo Credit: AP Photo via Daylife

In baseball managers seem to play a significant role in the team. The managers manage the players, they manage the game and some fans would argue that they are the glue that holds a team together.

As a member of the more forward thinking baseball community I’m well aware that the little things that we can observe form managers like lineup cards and pitching changes is a very small percentile of the job in its entirety. However because those things are all that we can see they are also all the we can criticize.

In 2011 one could argue that there was quite a bit to criticize with Blue Jays Manager John Farrell. It seemed he had trouble identifying his pitcher’s strengths in the bullpen and didn’t give two shits about who was where in the Jays lineup.

At the beginning of the 2011 season, Farrell continually put Octavio Dotel up against left handers, when at that point he was pitching like a ROOGY. Furthermore, countless times he put Adam Lind in the cleanup spot against left handers despite Lind being the 6th worse hitter against lefties in the past decade (according to wRC+).

As the year wore and rookies were called up from the minors things didn’t exactly improve. Farrell hit Eric Thames in the 2 hole whilst he was slumping and Brett Lawrie anywhere from 5-8 whilst he was hitting like one of the best players in the league. I digress.

Though Matthew Kory’s (@MattyMatty2000) poop joke algorithm has declared John Farrell’s managerial decisions as poop on the scale of 1-Poop, one must remember one thing. That thing is that last year John Farrell was a Rookie manager. As any Rookie player would do, a Rookie manager also makes mistakes.

What I find more important, which is also what scouts look for in a Rookie is improvement. This year Farrell seems to have improved to levels unimaginable. For one there is not a bullpen decision of his this year that has been too out of line. For another it seems he finally realizes what Adam Lind is…a platoon player.

In response to his newfound recognition of Lind’s true abilities (or lack thereof) Farrell has taken to dropping Lind in the batting order and sometimes even benching him when the Jays are facing a lefty starter.

Furthermore, what has been described as a managerial trend in this short season and something Farrell seems to have embraced are shifts. If you have watched any number of the Jays games this season you probably have witnessed these shifts.

Particularly against lefties the Jays have played two different shifts. One shift where the SS, 2B, and 1B players all stay in their regular position, but Brett Lawrie over at third has moved into shallow right field. Another shift has done the same thing except Lawrie was instead moved to a position straight up the middle.

I’m sure there have been other slight adjustments that my eyes, always distracted by watching the pristine pitching performances put on the by the Jays, have not captured. Though for the particular shifts described above, they have seemed to be relatively effective. On multiple occasions the ball has been hit directly to the shifted player resulting in an out and end to the inning.

All of these changes, all of this improvement is wonderful. Where as last year it looked like John Farrell could become the next Jim Tracy with his managerial decisions, this year he seems to be moving towards the ever eternal Joe Maddon managerial territory.

Although good managerial decisions don’t necessarily add a whole lot to the success of a team, they sure don’t hurt. With good managerial decisions the players are happy, the fans are happy, and newspapers have to write about something other than the bad decision the manager made last night…everybody wins.

Thinking Blue: Weekly Recap – April 23rd

Courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

After a couple of weeks of a few lucky wins, it looks like the Blue Jays are getting back in the swing of things. Edwin is hitting, KJ is hitting, Colby is hitting, and even the so called slumping Bautista is recovering from early season troubles. Furthermore after yesterday’s win against the Royals the Jays sit now atop the AL East tied with the Yankees for first place.

These next couple of weeks look to be pretty crucial in establishing the standings in the early goings. Both the OriLoLes, who haven’t been so LoL worthy thus far, and the Rays are only a half game back of the Jays and Yankees. Of course the Red Sox and all of their beer and chicken issues are sitting firm in last place, and despite their atrocious relief pitching and the pessimistic beliefs of Red Sox fans everywhere they are still a force to be reckoned with in the AL East.

Hutch’s First Big League Start
As I’m sure most of you saw, Drew Hutchison (Yes, that’s H-u-t-c-h-i-s-o-n with one N) made a start for the Blue Jays on Saturday. Yes, the Blue Jays Top 10 prospect (and Top 100 MLB Prospect if you ask Keith Law) took to the mound in a duel against Luis Mendoza. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch his entire outing as I missed the beginning, but from what I saw he looked like he held his own.

His line on the night didn’t end up being exactly what you’d like to see. He gave up 5 runs over 5 1/3 innings and two home runs. To go along with that Hutchison walked 3 batters and hit one more. On the surface that doesn’t look so great for a pitcher’s debut, but Hutch is only 21 and most pitchers don’t produce Kyle Drabek like debuts. Besides Hutchison did end up striking out 4 over the 5 1/3 innings and got the win, if thats the sort of thing you care about (I don’t).

The outing wasn’t the most impressive thing in the world, but I also wasn’t disappointed. Again, he’s still only 21 and will be for another 4 months, he was just called up from AA and its his first start in the majors. Not to excuse the performance, but occasionally that kind of pressure can be pretty daunting. Before we make any rash decisions or evaluations on Hutch lets at least see another start of his, an opportunity I hope the Jays give him.

P.S. If you want a more In-Depth Analysis of Hutch’s first start, the kind of thing I have been known to do from time to time, you can check out MjwW’s FanPost over at Bluebird Banter where he excellently broke down the start using Pitch F/X numbers.

Santos to the DL
One week after coming back from the birth of his first child, Sergio Santos is on the 15 day DL for Shoulder Inflammation as reported by @SNBarryDavis. This isn’t exactly the news you want to hear from your favourite team, but it doesn’t project to be a huge pressing issue. If you assume Santos is as good as he was last year over the course of this season, you lose only a little more than 0.1 WAR off the season total, which in the grand scheme of things is a relatively small number.

In the meantime the Jays have thrust “Capital C Closer” Francisco Cordero into the closer role. Cordero isn’t as good as Santos, but having him as your closer isn’t the worst thing in the world. He has a declining skill set, which I have outlined before, but he should be fine in the role for 15 days. However, one thing I fear with Cordero is if he actually performs “well” in his little stint in the 9th inning role, there may be pressure to keep him there.

Santos hasn’t been great so far this season, but it has been an extremely small sample. Nonetheless if Cordero performs well, I could easily see the fans and the media for that matter building the narrative that Cordero needs to be in that closer role citing Santos’ two blown saves in this short season. Of course I don’t care about blown saves, but the Toronto media, well they sure seem to.

Colby Haters Be Gone
Colby Rasmus is always going to be easy pickin’s as an entity that everyone can throw their anger at. He is the inevitable scapegoat, he is athletic and graceful both on the field and at the plate and that has gotten him the J.D. Drew treatment.

Nonetheless Colby has done his very best to silence his naysayers, which seemed to be more than half of the fan base after last year’s debacle. After a terrible showing last season following his transition from NL to AL, St. Louis to Toronto, and La Russa to Freedom, Rasmus definitely wasn’t helping himself in the fan appreciation department.

People called him lazy, people called the trade stupid, but people say a lot of things. Well at least they did.

Nowadays with Colby having hit 3 home runs thus far with an OBP of .321 all good for a 120 wRC+, people aren’t saying a lot. These “people” have seemed to have been silenced by Colby’s admittedly fantastic performance both at the plate and in center field.

He is not hitting to the level that he did in 2010, his wRC+ is 9 points lower, but his defense is being rated better by the always confusing UZR. This has put him on pace for a 5.4 fWAR season. That pace likely won’t continue, but there is a chance that it very well could. Rasmus has the potential for that type of season, it will be interesting to see if he has that in him.

He’s hitting that triple, double, single, that smooth home run, he is fire burning in the outfield and quickly sliding his way right back into Toronto fan’s hearts…for the time being. #Colby2012

Side Note: Does anyone else see the resemblance?

Courtesy of Daylife via AP Photo and Getty Images
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