September 8, 2012
Francona would be great fit for Jays
By BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency
Terry Francona is the man.
Not the witch doctor to alleviate an injury spell cast over the Blue Jays so powerful that J.A. Happ makes a start with a broken bone in his foot.
Not the guy to get the young minor leaguers in line: Two suspended for 50 games for positive tests and another sent home for bat tossing.
Terry Francona is the man to manage the 2013 Blue Jays.
Francona’s friends, which lined end to end would ring the Rogers Centre three or four times, say he wants to manage again.
He does not want his final stint as a manager to be last September: 20 losses in 27 games as the Boston Red Sox were eliminated on the night of Game 162.
The Red Sox want John Farrell.
The Jays need players.
Francona is available, rested and ready.
Francona knows Canada. He played for the Montreal Expos for five years after being drafted by Jim Fanning as a first-rounder in 1980.
So he has a some knowledge of one of our official languages and after having spent more than five months in the booth with Thornhill’s Dan Shulman on ESPN’s Sunday night crew, he has learned how to speak Canadian.
A regular visitor to Toronto, first at the Pearson Cup Games, then in 1988 with the Cleveland Indians with Farrell as a teammate, then with the Milwaukee Brewers from 1989 to 1990 and then eight years as Red Sox manager.
And, oh yes, the most important part of the equation — he can manage.
He managed the Sox that broke the 86-year-old curse of the Bambino. Snapping a 19-year-old Mitch Williams curse would be much easier.
Like Cito Gaston he has two World Series rings as a manager, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 and the Colorado Rockies in 2007.
The Jays were peeved that the departing Boston general manager Theo Epstein’s suggested to the Sox on his way to the Chicago Cubs last October that Farrell would be ideal for Fenway.
Never mind that he was under contract, Boston wanted him.
The Jays said no lateral movements without compensation.
“He’s ours! You can’t have him!”
Have injuries, game management, the constant back-loaded roster of relievers leaving a tiny bench, the flow of visiting scouts to the 300 level shaking their heads at managerial moves down below, taken some shine off Farrell’s halo north of the border?
Is Farrell as bad as his critics say? No.
Whitey Herzog and Earl Weaver would look bad co-managing what’s left of the Blue Jays.
Farrell likes to try to “manufacture” runs as he says. We thought manufacturing runs came in the first few innings when outs were plentiful — trade an out for a run, or the chance to score.
Giving 45-year-old Omar Vizquel a steal sign down a run with two out is not manufacturing.
It’s taking a high risk and the bat out of the your final hitter’s hands as was the case in Detroit.
Not pinch running for Vizquel and having him thrown out at the plate
Sept. 1, the day the rosters expand, was another bad sign. Who expands the roster? Not the manager, but the GM.
Yet in Boston going through the final ugly days of Bobby Valentine’s one-year era, Farrell’s managerial stock is higher than the Prudential Tower, a residue from his days as Francona’s former pitching coach.
Could the Jays hire Francona from Sunday night gigs at ESPN with Orel Hershiser and Shulman? When Buck Showalter worked at ESPN he waited patiently for a good fit and now has the Baltimore Orioles living and breathing again.
Does Francona take the first job?
“All I know is that he does not want that final month in Boston to be his last line on the back of his baseball card,” said a former teammate.
Told that the back of baseball cards don’t break down month-by-month records like Baseball Reference, the scout replied, “Whatever, he wants to manage. He’s too competitive, he’s too good.”
Francona could sit and wait like Showalter especially when you consider:
Will Ron Washington run the Texas Rangers in 2013 if they don’t win it all?
Dusty Baker’s contract is up with the Cincinnati Reds, will he be rehired?
How much longer will Charlie Manuel run the Philadelphia Phillies? The Phillies have an heir waiting in Baseball America manager of the year triple-A Lehigh Valley’s Ryne Sandberg, a Hall of Famer.
Former Phillies GM Lee Thomas gave Francona his first managing job in 1997 when Francona’s managerial experience was at double-A Birmingham with an awkward outfielder named Michael Jordan.
Farrell is in the perfect situation after being hired Oct. 25, 2010, signing a three-year contract. We wrote it as a three-year deal that night and don’t understand the attempted secrecy by the Jays of keeping his contract status under the cone of silence.
When this lost season of injuries, positive tests and roof malfunctions comes to an end Oct. 3, Farrell begins his third and final year under contract.
No manager, including Farrell, should enter the season with lame-duck status.
The Jays have to extend Farrell, as former president Paul Godfrey did with GM J.P. Ricciardi, to keep him from going to Boston.
Either that or trade him. And sign Francona.