McAdam: Red Sox eying Farrell, but open to others

874465.jpg

McAdam: Red Sox eying Farrell, but open to others

A year ago, even before their original list of potential managerial candidates were summoned to Fenway, certainly before they contemplated hiring Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox were first infatuated with Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell.
A year later, they're right back in the same position.
In the aftermath of Valentine's firing, the Sox, numerous sources indicate, have made Farrell their first priority.
But just like last year, getting permission to offer him the job will not be simple.
Last fall, Farrell was a year into a three-year contract he signed with the Jays. After first stating that they wouldn't stand in the way if any employee wanted to join another organization, they abruptly changed club policy and demanded compensation.
Toronto asked for starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, a price the Sox naturally deemed prohibitive.
Now, Farrell has just one year remaining on his deal, but the Jays aren't inclined to let him come to the Red Sox without getting something in return.
One industry source said the Jays would demand a "significant'' player in return for letting Farrell out of his deal. An executive with another major league team said he believed the Jays would ask for a top prospect ("not one of their top three, but right below that") in exchange.
Farrell is unique in that he's the top choice of both ownership and upper management as well as the team's Baseball Operations department. Both like that Farrell has a strong pitching background, would command immediate respect in the Boston clubhouse and understands the demands of the market.
Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, who enjoys a close relationship with Red Sox CEO and President Larry Lucchino, will likely hold the key to a deal getting done.
Beeston is an affable sort and some who know him believe he wouldn't stand in Farrell's way if the manager expressed a strong desire to return to the Red Sox.
There are complications, however.
First, Beeston doesn't want the Jays viewed as a farm club for U.S.-based big market team, especially one that competes in the same division. Were he to move from the Jays to the Red Sox, Farrell would bring a unique perspective on the inner workings, philosophy and personnel in the Toronto organization.
If Beeston lets Farrell out of his deal with little in return, he'll appear weak to the team's fan base.
Secondly, the Jays hold some leverage. With Farrell still under contract, the Jays are entitled to compensation and because of his work history with the Sox and relationships with both GM Ben Cherington and assistant GM Mike Hazen, Farrell is worth more to the Red Sox than any other franchise.
In another year, if Farrell's deal expires, Toronto will not get anything if he chooses to go elsewhere, though presumably, the Red Sox will have another manager by then.
As much as the Sox want Farrell, however, they are set to be adamant about not wanting the compensation issue to drag on, hindering other moves that must be made to rebuild a 93-loss team. The Sox were embarrassed by the long, drawn-out -- and ultimately unsatisfying -- compensation they themselves received for letting Theo Epstein leave with a year remaining on his contract to become president of the Chicago Cubs.
If the Sox can't work out a deal for Farrell in the span of, say, a week, look for them to take their managerial search elsewhere.
Both Cherington and Lucchino indicated Thursday that they might be open to considering candidates without previous major league managerial experience, a change that would increase the pool of potential candidates.
Here are some names who would likely be on a secondary list:
Brad Ausmus
A longtime major league catcher, Ausmus is considered one of the brightest people in the game. He has significant New England roots -- born in New Haven; a Dartmouth alum; homeowner on the Cape -- and has long been considered managerial material.
Ausmus is a special assistant with the San Diego Padres and would undoubtedly come with a strong recommendation from Padres GM Josh Byrnes, Epstein's one-time assistant in Boston.

Torey Lovullo
Lovullo, ironically, is Farrell's first base coach in Toronto, but unlike Farrell, has a contract that expires at the end of the month, leaving him free to take a job elsewhere without compensation.
Lovullo, too, is familiar with the Boston organization, having managed Pawtucket in the 2010 season. That means, too, that he managed a number of players on the current Red Sox roster.
He also enjoys a good relationship with Hazen, who was the Red Sox' farm director when Lovullo managed the Pawsox. And, having worked two years under Farrell in Toronto, Lovullo has learned firsthand from someone the Sox respect.

Tim Bogar
Bogar interviewed, unsuccessfully, for the Astros managerial opening last month and also interviewed for jobs in Toronto and Seattle.
The former infielder is open to the game's analytics, having devised a new method by which players are evaluated, but has extensive playing and managing experience. He also has worked in Boston long enough to understand the demands of the job and the market.
If there's a negative for Bogar, it's that he worked on the staffs of the last two Red Sox managers, both of whom were fired. The Sox may want a clean break from their recent past.

It's worth noting that while Farrell enjoys consensus support throughout the organization -- from both the ownership level and Baseball Operations - no other potential candidate has such broad approval.
Should the Sox be unable to pry away the one manager upon whom they agree, how would the process work in finding a compromise candidate?
For now, their sights set squarely on Farrell, that's a prospect the Sox would rather not ponder.

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

Drellich: Sale may be Red Sox' most electrifying pitcher since Pedro

The newest lefty ace can succeed where David Price did not.

Chris Sale might be the most electrifying pitcher the Red Sox have had since Pedro Martinez.

Josh Beckett had his moments. Jon Lester was steadily excellent.

But the stuff Sale brings is a step above.

A spaghetti-limbed motion and a fast pace. The ability to throw any pitch in any count, something said of many pitchers, but noted here without exaggeration. A delivery that disguises each pitch as another until there’s no time to react.

MORE ON CHRIS SALE

There's been a lot of talk about how competitive Sale is. That's great.

Let's acknowledge how filthy he is before going crazy about the intangibles. He carves hitters better than he does jerseys.

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has made some questionable moves, but he deserves some optimism here. Some early praise, even -- no matter how well Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, the best prospects he gave the White Sox for Sale, are faring this spring.

Where Dombrowski failed with Price thus far, he may succeed immediately with Sale.

Yes, Sale's 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on Tuesday night was just a spring training game. But he was dominant to the point that a Grapefruit League game was actually made interesting.

Must-watch, even.

“You guys saw,” Sale told reporters in Florida. “Just felt good.”

All three pitches were working for Sale, the fastball, slider and changeup, and the variants thereof.

“I've been working on my changeup a little bit more the last couple of outings,” Sale said. “My last time out it wasn't great, but just working on it in between starts, just throwing it on the flat ground, it's a pitch that doesn't take a whole lot of stress on your arm. So even when you're just playing catch, you can flip it around, work on grips, things like that.

"As far as my slider, I feel good about it. . . . Obviously when I'm throwing harder, I think it's a little bit flatter. When I take some off of it, not only do I have a little bit more control, but I think it has a little bit more depth. Plus, it kind of creates another pitch in there. It's like an in-between fastball-changeup type of thing. Anything to give them a different look or try to throw them off. That’s kind of the name of pitching."

American League Rookie of the Year runner-up Gary Sanchez was miles in front of the 2-and-2 changeup he swung over in the first inning. Matt Holliday was frozen by a slider at the belt on the inner half.

Chris Carter, he of 40-home run power, was beat by a 2-and-2 fastball an inning later, clearly thinking off speed and unable to decipher just what was coming in time.

Aaron Hicks tried to golf an 0-and-2 slider by flinging his bat into the stands, somewhere behind the third-base dugout.

That’s just the first two innings.

"He added his third pitch more this evening than five days ago, when it was more fastball-changeup," manager John Farrell said. "He had his breaking ball to both sides of the plate, and got underneath to some right-handed swings. And any time he needs to, he's got such good feel for the changeup to get him back in counts to give him a different look. He was impressive."

Opening Day at Fenway Park will be exciting. But Game No. 2, when Sale is to make his Sox debut, should bring the most intrigue.

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

Chris Sale dominant again in Red Sox' win vs. Yankees

By Pat Bradley, CSN Staff

Chris Sale was treating this like a regular season game, and delivered an excellent, midseason performance.

The Boston Red Sox got a taste Tuesday of the star pitcher they acquired last offseason, when Sale dominated the New York Yankees in a 4-2 spring training road win in Tampa, Florida.

Sale, who entered the game having thrown 63 of his 68 spring pitches for strikes (92%), continued to show off his incredible command, throwing 58 of his 86 pitches for strikes (67%) in the victory.

The 27-year-old struck out five of the first six Yankees he faced, and finished with an even 10 strikeouts on the night. He’s now struck out 20 batters to just one walk this spring.

"Obviously, anybody who knows anything about sports knows about Boston and New York," Sale said, via The Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Coming in here, playing against the Yankees, playing at their park in a night game, it gives it more of a regular-season feel. That's what we're here for. Anytime you can get that much closer to a regular-season game, the better off we're going to be."

His single blemish came on a 2-2 pitch to Yankees designated hitter and noted masher Matt Holliday, who sent the ball sailing to the opposite field for a two-run home run that at the time tied the score at 2.

Sale quickly regrouped, lining out Chris Carter to left field on his very next pitch to end his outing. His final line: two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts and a hit batsman in six innings on 86 pitches.

That’s quite a debut to the rivalry, and something the Red Sox are well aware could become a regular thing.

“I don't want to say tonight is the norm,” began Red Sox manager John Farrell, via The Providence Journal, “but certainly he is very capable of doing that every time he walks to the mound.”

Sale wasn’t the only one strutting his stuff on Tuesday, though. Youngsters Marco Hernandez and Sam Travis continued to hit and were pivotal parts of a Red Sox offense that pounded out 13 hits.

After Mike Miller opened the scoring with a solo homer for Boston in the third inning, Travis kept things rolling a few batters later when his base hit scored Hernandez.

Travis was back at it again in the seventh inning, when his groundout scored Heiker Meneses for what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez and Travis each finished 2-for-4, with Hernandez tripling (his fifth of the spring) and scoring a run and Travis driving in two runs of his own. They raised their spring averages to .422 and .351, respectively.

Every member of the starting lineup -- which did not feature regulars Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval or Xander Bogaerts -- recorded at least one hit, save for Jackie Bradley Jr., who went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts out of the cleanup spot.

Boston is back in action Thursday with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.