John Farrell has failed as Blue Jays manager

Blue Jays manager John Farrell watches from the dugout during a game against the Rays at Tropicana...

Blue Jays manager John Farrell watches from the dugout during a game against the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., Sept. 22, 2012. (STEVE NESIUS/Reuters)

STEVE SIMMONS,QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:09 AM ET

TORONTO - Two years ago this month John Farrell was introduced as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays with grand ambition and so much promise.

He talked about changing the Blue Jays losing ways, about playing a new, aggressive brand of baseball, about an era that would be far more progressive than previous years, previous teams. And in doing so, he cast some aspersions on the way in which the Blue Jays conducted their business in the past.

It was impressive sounding, fresh, ambitious and confident. But what we know now is they were just words. Words that now ring rather hollow over time.

This is the end of two seasons of John Farrell baseball, the end of two seasons of disappointment, lacking in definition. The declarations made, of future thinking, of a new approach to baseball, seem little more than a politician’s election promises gone wrong. Farrell has not delivered what he, in fact, promised in two years on the job. Not even close.

He has, in fact, won fewer games in each of his two Toronto seasons than Cito Gaston managed in his last controversial year on the job. Gaston managed 85 wins in his last season with the Jays. Who saw that coming?

Farrell won 81 in his first year; fell to 73 in this season of injury, disaster, finger pointing and turmoil. No one, on the day he was hired in 2010, said anything about winning fewer games, not more games.

And so here we are, two years in, with one year to go on his contract and there is no real definition of who he or what he is as a big league manager or what he might be one day. The Red Sox think enough of him to want him to be their next manager, which is an issue unto itself. The Jays, in particular general manager Alex Anthopoulos, think enough of suggest he will be on the job next season, but didn’t exactly give him a ringing endorsement beyond next season.

In his wrap-up news conference, Anthopoulos said that extending Farrell’s contract to leave no doubt he is the manager for now and into the future is hardly his most pressing priority of the off-season. He looks at him a little like he looks at Adam Lind. Both are signed for next year, so dealing with their situations is not exactly a priority.

But Anthopoulos did hint that a contract extension could be discussed before spring training, or during the start of next season, or just about any time in between. It wasn’t a priority of his in the most significant off-season of his time running the Jays.

What Anthopoulos didn’t address is the possibility of the Red Sox offering up a player of some significance in exchange for the manager. An offer that will probably be forthcoming. An offer of importance is highly unlikely.

Which means what? It means Anthopoulos expects Farrell to be back managing the Jays next season and Farrell indicates that the Jays can compete for a post-season berth only if they add sharply to their starting rotation.

“Going forward, there are additions and upgrades that are clear,” Farrell said. “What we add to our pitching staff will have a great impact on that. There are positional needs. Upgrades are needed. We’re as far away (from contention) as our additions in pitching will take us.”

He said that while the Oakland A’s, with the lowest payroll in the American League and a starting staff of rookies, were winning their 94th game on the final afternoon of the season and beating out the Texas Rangers for first place in the AL West. He said that while a team that one Jays player said — “First time we played them, I thought they stunk,” — was managing the unlikely.

Bob Melvin has been something of a magician in Oakland. Robin Ventura changed the culture of the Chicago White Sox. Buck Showalter has absolutely altered the mental outlook of the Baltimore Orioles.

“This game will always be about the players,” said Farrell, “and that’s not me shunning responsibility.”

But the best do make a difference. That was obvious in Oakland and Baltimore this season. And two years in, we still don’t know what to think of John Farrell baseball, what to make of the Jays’ propensity for mistakes, what to take from the club’s lack of leadership, what to understand from his handling of his pitching staff, his apparent area of strength.

Going forward, with expectations in freefall once again, the manager remains as much a mystery as anything else with the Jays.


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