When Terry Francona’s impressive tenure with the Red Sox came to an end last month, a few Jays fans likely wondered if the Sox wished they still had John Farrell in their organization to hire as his replacement.
But, as you have probably already heard, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo earlier today, the Red Sox might just be thinking that very thing.
The story itself isn’t much of one — two unnamed sources go on to say that Farrell was always considered to be next in line to manage the Red Sox and that it would be “hard to believe” that the Jays would give him back — but it’s quite a discussion piece.
Heavily motivated by his very close relationship with Francona, Farrell left a good gig with the Indians in 2006 to become Boston’s new pitching coach. Just one World-Series-winning season later, he was offered a managerial interview with the Pirates.
“While I do have aspirations to manage in the major leagues in the future, I have declined the opportunity to interview for the position of Pittsburgh Pirates manager. I look forward to contributing to and competing for another World Series title here in Boston,” Farrell’s official statement read at the time in 2007.
Another season went by with Farrell guiding Boston’s rotation in 2008, and another managerial interview came, this time with the Mariners.
“My decision is based on family reasons and being committed to the Red Sox organization,” Farrell’s statement read that time in 2008.
While it appeared that Farrell was declining offers in order to eventually become Boston’s skipper after Francona, ESPNBoston.com confirmed in September 2009 that there was a clause in Farrell’s contract that actually prevented him from managing until after the 2010 season, which is when the Jays came calling. With it being a foregone conclusion at that time that the Sox were going to pick up Francona’s 2012-2013 option, Farrell started to weigh his options.
The Jays were sifting through a staggering 150 candidates, according to the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott, before they decided to call a considerable number of them for phone interviews. Given his apparent clause with the Red Sox, Farrell was actually able to accept a managerial interview for the first time. After another batch of phone interviews to a select few, Anthopoulos decided that his three finalists, Demarlo Hale, Sandy Alomar, and Farrell, would be interviewed separately by multiple Jays employees across grueling 14-hour days.
The rest, they say, is history, as Farrell was crowned the last man standing in Anthopoulos’ epic search last year and became the 15th manager in Blue Jays history.
While I’m sure that a small part of Farrell is wishing that he could have taken over the reins in Boston, a much bigger part of him has to be happy with the decision he made to join the Jays. He has said that he was “fortunate” to have seen the Jays 18 times a year while he was with the Red Sox and that he could clearly see the momentum that was being built in Toronto, not to mention that he saw managing in the AL East as an attraction and exciting challenge.
While that challenge would obviously apply to the Red Sox as well, it’s tough to imagine Farrell wanting to turn his back on the Jays, the team that gave him his big break, or even want to manage the Sox in the first place now after the way they recently treated Francona, his close friend.
But in the unlikely event that the Red Sox come calling with an offer, which Jays president Paul Beeston said they have not, the issue that Cafardo’s article raises is about Alex Anthopoulos’ company policy of allowing employees to talk freely with other organizations, which was recently touched on by Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi.
“If you have that philosophy, in the long run it will serve your organization well, you’ll continue to attract outstanding employees because they know they have the freedom, they have upwards mobility, they’re never going to be held down,” Anthopoulos says in the article. “”We will never prevent anybody from going anywhere.”
While the Jays won’t prevent anybody from going anywhere, it’s understood that Anthopoulos’ policy appears to apply to employees who are looking to advance in their careers, not take the exact same position with another organization, let alone a division rival like the Sox. It’s a great, unique policy, one that makes Toronto different from other MLB clubs, and surely if an employee didn’t want to be a part of the Jays, Anthopoulos wouldn’t want to keep them, but nowhere does it say that he would not seek compensation for losing an employee that was still under contract.
That brings in the speculation about whether or not the Sox would want to give something up to the Jays in order to acquire Farrell, as Cafardo’s article states, but also just what exactly the compensation would be. Plus, if Farrell were to actually be re-acquired by the Sox, the speculation snowballs into the fact that Francona would be a great fit for the Jays.
Yes, I would have no qualms about Francona managing the Jays, but I highly doubt that Anthopoulos is eager to kick-start his second managerial search in two years, which he said “consumed him” last year and prevented him from fully focusing on everything else with the team that needed attending to.
Besides, Farrell brings a lot to the table as manager of the Jays, and if the Red Sox do in fact want him back, then it only reaffirms the good decision on the Jays’ part to hire him in the first place.
Farrell, in addition to being great with the media, seems to be genuinely motivated to always improve, and to be a player’s manager like Francona was in Boston. Plus, in his recent feature on BlueJays.com, he wasn’t afraid to admit where he went wrong or where he wants to improve, which is not only a rare trait nowadays, but a tribute to his maturity and poise.