Jays' Farrell managing his future

Blue Jays manager John Farrell fields questions from reporters in the dugout before last night's...

Blue Jays manager John Farrell fields questions from reporters in the dugout before last night's game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Rumours have swirled that Farrell, who has previously worked with the Boston organization, could be headed back to Beantown. That leaves Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos with a decision or two. (REUTERS)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:48 PM ET

TORONTO - In a town where politics is almost — and we stress, almost — as important as baseball, the spotlight shone on the candidate of choice here Friday and John Edward Farrell hit all the right talking points.

Farrell’s audience, the flower of New England journalism, ignoring for the most part that he is contractually obligated to the Toronto Blue Jays through 2013, has anointed the handsome, square-jawed, no-nonsense 50-year-old as the Boston Red Sox manager-in-waiting. You could feel the love.

Forget also, that across the diamond sat Bobby Valentine, reduced now to keeping the managerial seat warm for Farrell, his presence a mere pebble on the road to Farrell’s coronation in the eyes of Boston’s baseball cognescenti.

“There’s a lot of speculation, obviously,” Farrell said. “But as I said last week in Toronto, I’m the manager of the Blue Jays. This is where my focus and commitment is. I’m under contract. I understand the natural connection because I’ve worked here in the past but my focus is clearly here with the Blue Jays.

“I can tell you this: knowing what the Red Sox have been going through with the number of players they’ve gone through with all the injuries, I can empathize with Bobby in having to deal with a lot of changes to the roster.”

If we are to believe — and there’s no reason not to — that Farrell will be the No. 1 choice to succeed Valentine when the season ends, then it will be interesting to see how the Blue Jays deal with it.

What matters most is that the Jays have a manager who they believe in, whether it’s Farrell or somebody new, as they head into what should be a window of competitive opportunity over the next few years.

Let’s paint a couple of different scenarios.

Scenario 1

Premise: Blue Jay GM Alex Anthopoulos saw this coming a mile off, looked at it from all sides and decided he couldn’t wait on a new deal for Farrell. He’s offered an extension, Farrell has accepted and they’re keeping it all under wraps for some kind of vague strategic reason. Perhaps they just want the Red Sox to sweat.

Scenario 2

Premise: Anthopoulos has watched Farrell’s body of work over two seasons and now is not quite so certain he’s the guy to take this franchise to the next level.

Now the GM is just sitting back to see how it all plays out. If Boston asks for Farrell’s hand in marriage, that’s tantamount to a resignation and you save a year’s salary for a guy you’re not that excited about anymore.

Anthopoulos already has a short list of replacement candidates from his exhaustive search two years ago and maybe he feels comfortable that there is a guy — Sandy Alomar, Jr? Dave Martinez? Ryne Sandberg? — who can seamlessly step in and not just pick up from Farrell but actually do a better job.

Who knows? Maybe Toronto would even get a little bit of compensation.

Scenario 3

Premise: The Blue Jays front office loves John Farrell. They believe in him. They have watched him grow into the manager’s role over the last two years and believe he is the man to lead them into the playoffs through these next crucial three or four seasons. They like him even more now than they did when they hired him.

If that is the case then, the Boston threat aside, the Jays must offer him a two- or three-year extension beyond next year, with a nice raise.

As in Scenario 1, given Alex Anthopoulos’s attention to detail, this may already be under consideration. That would be certainly consistent with the type of GM he is.

With one year remaining on his contract, without an extension Farrell would be in a lame-duck position in 2013 and no self-respecting GM would let that kind of cloud hang over a team on the cusp of contention. It affects how everyone, especially the uniformed personnel, looks at the guy who is the pointman of the franchise. It is an unnecessary distraction.

This Boston threat may hasten that extension, if only to discover where Farrell sits on the issue. If Anthopoulos offers the extension at generous terms and the manager hesitates, then all bets are off. It means that, all things being equal, Farrell would rather be in Boston.

That changes everything.

The manager is a guy who has to be all-in. He is the face of the team. He sets the tone for how the team plays. He sits in on your team’s most private planning meetings. He helps shape team policy. If you are the GM and you do not have absolute trust in the commitment of your manager, then you simply have to let him go.

Compensation? Who cares? Nobody is going to force the Red Sox to give up significant talent for a manager. And if you force him to live up to his contract, what have you got? A reluctant manager. Not what you want as you head into the most important seasons this franchise has seen in the last 20 years.

Nobody much likes the optics of the manager you have groomed heading down the road to one of your chief rivals. On the other hand, you can’t move forward with a guy who doesn’t want to be here.

The candidate was making none of those kinds of sounds Friday. He was smooth, convincing, loyal to his uniform, yet respectful of his audience. He’s also in complete control of his destiny, wherever that leads him.


Videos

Photos