October 24, 2011
With the Boston Red Sox expected to announce Ben Cherington as their new general manager Tuesday, the first order of business for the new man in charge will be to hire a few field manager.
Reportedly, the Red Sox may already have their man in mind. The only problem is that he already manages another team. A division rival, too.
According to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, the Red Sox braintrust has wanted to hire Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell ever since the team and former manager Terry Francona parted ways in late September.
Farrell was the Red Sox's pitching coach on Francona's staff for four seasons, from 2007 to 2010. He reportedly would've preferred to stay in Boston and eventually become the Red Sox manager. But when it appeared that Francona wasn't going anywhere, Farrell decided to take the Blue Jays' job last season.
It would seem like a good fit. Farrell is familiar with most of the players on the roster and the remaining coaches on staff. Competing in the AL East wouldn't be new to him. The front office also likes that Farrell is on board with using advanced data and sabermetrics in his approach to the job.
Perhaps even better, Farrell wouldn't be a brand new manager. He says he learned quite a bit in his first year in the Blue Jays' dugout.
"The one thing I was never exposed to was the responsibility of 25 players," Farrell said at the end of the year when talking about his biggest challenge from 2011. "In the past, it's been 40 percent of a roster with the pitching staff.
"Managing the clubhouse, being in tune with what's going on with an individual player, whether it's mentally, physically or fundamentally -- there's a lot of time spent, a lot of maintenance in those areas, to be abreast of each guy in the clubhouse."
Do you think those quotes hold any meaning to a Red Sox front office that surely wants to whip its clubhouse into shape and make sure the fried chicken and beer escapades are a thing of the past?
But Farrell also has a contract with the Blue Jays. He's signed for two more years. Would Toronto really want to let him go, after managing the team to an 81-81 fourth-place finish in the AL East and a roster that appears to be on the rise?
Blue Jays president Paul Beeston says the Red Sox have not requested permission to interview Farrell, so they consider this a hypothetical situation. But as we've seen this offseason, these sorts of things can become reality very quickly, especially if Farrell is Boston's top choice.
Even if Toronto has managerial replacements on hand (like bench coach Don Wakamatsu) or prefers not to keep an employee who wants to leave, the team isn't likely to just let Farrell out of his contract. Especially when this would be a lateral move to a division rival and perennial contender. Getting Farrell will surely cost the Red Sox, maybe whichever prospects come from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein.
That should give Cherington plenty to work on before he can even settle into his new GM chair at Fenway Park.