Saturday, October 20, 2012

Farrell's Farewell (or not)

(source: Getty Images)
This is too long for Twitter, and a little disjointed.

Update: Not long after I published this piece, this happened:
If you're a Blue Jays fan, you know that there is a ton of speculation in Toronto (and Boston) as to whether or not John Farrell will return as manager next season, or if he will (wait for it...) be shippin' down to Boston (GROAN) to take over the vacant position with the Red Sox.

My short reaction is I hope John Farrell gets to go to Boston, I hope Toronto gets something back (maybe a starting pitcher?), and I hope that's the end of it. No sniping in the media, no hand-wringing to distract from bigger issues, just a clean trade.

Here's the long reaction.

In my opinion, Toronto's fans should not be upset with the possible departure of John Farrell, and if they are, the anger should be directed at the front office - if the rumors surrounding this situation are to be believed.

If there is any truth to what Bob Elliott put forth in Friday's Toronto Sun, then I wouldn't be surprised that Farrell is ready to hitch his wagon to the Red Sox as soon as yesterday. Elliott wrote:
Farrell wanted to release backup infielder Omar Vizquel in July, but the GM did not want to cut loose a future Hall of Famer, according to someone familiar with Jays management.
And the manager was not pleased at the July 31 trade deadline that the Jays added relief help rather than dealing prospects for starting pitching.
Bob Elliott, Toronto Sun , October 19 2012

If that is true, and the need to have an aging infielder occupy one of the very few spots on the bench was just a stubborn decision made by the front office out of loyalty to a player that has no previous ties to the organization, well then I've got no problem with John Farrell being pissed off.

Starting pitching was iffy at best this season, whether it was due to injury, bad luck, or just plain inexperience. Because of that, the Blue Jays had to carry a deeper bullpen than anyone would have liked. All season it felt like every roster move was to send one position player to Las Vegas (or the DL) and bring up two pitchers. Due to the deeper 'pen, the bench was short, much shorter than it should have been.

Two moves could have been made to remedy the short bench to give the manager more late-game options:

1. Release Omar Vizquel to make room for such heavyweights as Yan 'The Thrillin' Brazilian' Gomes , 'Mighty' Mike McCoy, or David 'David Cooper' Cooper.

2. Acquire starting pitching at the deadline to lighten the load of the bullpen. Less work for the relievers means fewer bodies in the 'pen. Less relievers means another bench spot.

Asking Farrell to win with that situation is like asking him to clean the windows of his house with a footstool and a napkin. It could be done, but it wasn't going to be easy, and it had to be as frustrating as all get out.

While his hands were tied with pinch-hitting choices, he had full reign over who to bring in from the pen and who to run on the basepaths and when. More often than not, those decisions were met with WTFs, and not FTWs, and I will not miss those.

What I'm getting at is, most managers make those calls that make you go "ugh", so switching out Farrell for any one else at this point is irrelevant. A manager is a manager is a manager. (Unless it's Valentine, in which case, no thanks.)

It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Toronto is ready to move on without him. If the organization really wanted him to stay, they would enforce the rule they put in place last season that they would not entertain any lateral movement by coaching staff to another organization, no? They could quash the rumors, and move forward. Their silence suggests otherwise.

If Farrell does go to Boston and Toronto gets a major league-ready starting pitcher in return, that's bloody fantastic. Even if they get a minor leaguer, that's not bad.

If Farrell goes to Boston and Toronto gets nothing in return, then that's fine, too. The Blue Jays will have some 'splainin' to do to certain corners of the market, but they'll find another manager, and move on. All talk points to a manager compensation deal, so it's unlikely Toronto will walk away empty handed.

If Boston hires another manager, like Brad Ausmus, and Toronto out-and-out fires John Farrell, freezing him out of any job in the immediate future, well then I'm going to switch my allegiance to Baltimore or Oakland or anybody else, because that's just low. I'll come back when the front office gets shown the door (or the Jays make the postseason).

The latest tweet from Peter Gammons is intriguing. Not as much as his pocket tweets, but intriguing nonetheless:


As soon as I finish writing this, MLB Trade Rumors posts this tweet.

In regards to Omar, he was a terrific defensive player at one point in his career, and I'm sure he was a nice guy, but to have Toronto usher him around the majors for a year-long retirement party was detrimental to the success of the team.

His bat was nonexistent, as was his leadership. When Yunel took the field wearing his now-famous eye black, where was he to say "That`s probably not a good idea"? Nowhere, until afterwards whereupon he practically asked the public to lighten up, because he "it's no big deal, it's something we say all the time".

In the last week of the regular season, he criticized the coaching staff for not giving enough direction to younger players. If the issue was so glaring, why talk to a reporter and not the manager himself - and why wait until the end of the season?

I read a tweet that Vizquel was brought on the team at the insistence of older season ticket holders who spend money and "write letters". 30-somethings who have vivid memories of the glory days of the Blue Jays spend money too, and a lot of them don't give a fart in a wind tunnel about near-retirement future-hall-of-famers. Instead of letters, they write analysis and tweets and blogs about the team, about up-and-coming prospects and the fan experience in the city. They are the future season ticket holders, and they should not be ignored.

So long, Omar. I'll always remember you as one of the low-lights of the 2012 Blue Jays.

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