10:02 PM Eastern
The Blue Jays will announce on Monday that they have named former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell as the 11th full-time manager in club history, following Roy Hartsfield, Bobbys Mattick and Cox, Jimy Williams, Cito Gaston, Tim Johnson, Jim Fregosi, Buck Martinez, Carlos Tosca, John Gibbons and Gaston again.
The former Indians and Tigers starter (36-46, 4.56, 1.406 WHIP in nearly 700 IP over eight seasons) went the college route after retirement, returning to his alma mater Oklahoma State University to run the program there for a few years before the big leagues beckoned from the administrative side, and he went back to the Indians to oversee their farm system. Eventually, the Red Sox convinced him to don the uniform once again, and he has been their pitching coach the last four seasons, earning a World Series ring in 2007.
Farrell has a glittering resume, with the minor exception that he has never managed a single baseball game at any professional level.
Now, neither had Cito Gaston when he took over the Blue Jays in May of 1989, and the team won four division titles, two pennants and two World Series in the first five years of his tenure.
Farrell seems to have a terrific reputation around the game, with Red Sox owner John Henry (the man who spilled the beans on the hiring in an e-mail to the Boston Globe) saying that the Jays are getting “a great baseball man and a great person.” He may well be cut from the same cloth as Alex Anthopoulos, a player development guy and scout at heart, and will be more than just a manager, but also an executive in the dugout.
There are so many questions about Farrell that can’t be answered until Spring Training opens, and even more that can’t be answered until we see how he runs a ballgame tactically, but there’s no big-league manager alive who didn’t have to go through the same thing (though not necessarily at the major-league level) and even those with bucketloads of managerial experience in the minors had to make their mistakes in the bigs and learn from them. The key is to not make the same mistake twice.
Is Farrell ready to manage in the majors right now? Maybe not, but neither is his new team ready to cut a huge swath through the A.L. East and seriously contend for a playoff spot. Farrell is coming to Toronto to grow into his job as his club grows into a contender. He’s the star candidate for whom Alex Anthopoulos, Tony LaCava and their crew went looking when they started putting together their list of 100-plus names, a guy who they feel has the potential to make a difference in the long-term success of the Blue Jays.
Will he? We’ll have to wait and see, but Alex, Tony et al haven’t made too many wrong steps yet. I’m certainly willing to trust them, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing what Farrell has to say when he meets with the media on Monday. I’m also looking forward to picking Alex’s brain about the process and how things all came together to point to a guy who had never managed a game of professional baseball.
The Blue Jays will present Farrell, who wore number 52 with the Tribe and Red Sox (so hand it over, Omar Malave) and after all the pomp and ceremony, it’ll be time to get down to work. A new coaching staff will presumably be in place, with holdovers in Bruce Walton and Rick Langford at the very least (I’m assuming). Torey Lovullo, the former Indian and Tiger and current manager of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox, is expected to join Farrell here as the third-base coach or bench coach. One assumes that Brian Butterfield will be off to join Buck Showalter on the Orioles’ staff, which will be a huge loss to the Blue Jays. Nick Leyva was a Cito Gaston guy through and through, I’m thinking he likely won’t be retained, which leaves Malave and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy.
Malave has been a phenomenal organizational soldier for 30 years now, and with just one year in the majors it’s hard to believe they’d pull the rug out from under him. I can see him being back to coach first base. Of course, I can also see him being asked to manage in Las Vegas, where there’s an opening. As for Murphy, I’m not sure. He’s a hard worker, well-respected by his hitters, and the Blue Jays are coming off an historical home run year. Then again, they finished 24th in the major leagues in batting average and 26th in on-base percentage. Farrell may want his own guy.
All will be revealed on Monday, and of course, we will be all over it for you!