Farrell relishes the chance to compete against Sox, Yanks

191542.jpg

Farrell relishes the chance to compete against Sox, Yanks

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

At the start of the interview process to select the next manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, John Farrell had two strikes against him -- he had never managed professionally and he faced some institutional bias that suggests pitching coaches don't always make the best managers.

Ultimately, however, Farrell overcame any obstacles and was introduced Monday as the 12th manager in franchise history.

"A lot of attributes stood out,'' said Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos by phone. "From the first phone interview we had, you could tell that he was very prepared, a great communicator and strong leadership qualities.''

Anthopoulos said the conventional wisdom which argued against hiring a pitching coach "crossed our minds. But in fairness, not too many have been given that opportunity.''

It may have also helped that Bud Black, who had been the pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before being hired to manage the San Diego Padres, directed the Padres to a 90-win season and had them in playoff contention until the final day of the season.

"I wanted the best candidates, regardless of what position he played during his career,'' Anthopoulos.

As far Farrell's relative lack of managerial experience, Anthopoulos noted that a number of successul managers -- including Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker and, the man Farrell is replacing, Cito Gaston -- also lacked prior experience before being hired for their first jobs.

"More experience is something you welcome,'' said Anthopoulos, ''but there have been plenty who have succeeded without it.''

"Obviously, my background is pretty well-documented, so it wasn't a surprise,'' said Farrell after returning to the Boston area Monday night. "As the the initial conversations took place, if there were any concerns in those areas, there was a comfort area arrived at that squelched those thoughts.''

On the plus side, Farrell has thorough knowledge of the Blue Jays and the rest of the American League East, where he has coached the last four seasons.

"On the other hand, if John had been in, say, the National League West,'' added Anthopoulos, "I don't have any doubt that he still would have come in to the interview process very prepared.''

As familiar as Farrell is with the division, he was aware that the Blue Jays are the only team in the A.L. East to fail to make the postseason since the 1994 strike. Moreover, the Jays have perennial powerhouses (Yankees, Red Sox) and talented upstarts (Rays) to overcome.

But that, as it turned out, was a selling point.

"As daunting as some might see the East,'' said Farrell, "to compete against the
best for the majority of the schedule, honestly, was an attraction.''

Farrell also believes ownership (Canadian cable giant Rogers Communications owns the Jays) will provide the necessary resources to support a payroll "that will enable us to keep our own players when they reach arbitration and free agency and also add free agents.''

Anthopoulos, meanwhile, also had high praise for Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, who finished second to Farrell from among more than 20 original candidates.

"I think DeMarlo is going to be outstanding manager,'' said Anthopoulos. "He's a hidden gem. I don't think people realize how good a baseball man DeMarlo is. He has a real feel for the game and the ability to communicate with players.''

Anthopolous also interviewed third-base coach Tim Bogar in the first round and saluted the Red Sox for the staff they had assembled.

"It's telling that so many candidates came from that staff,'' he said.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

MORE RED SOX

At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.