Next Red Sox skipper
It must be cost-effective
Yes, John Farrell would be the best man for the job. But before we give him his No. 52 Red Sox jersey back, let's think about exactly what it would take to make that happen. First, the Blue Jays would have to agree to let Farrell walk with one year remaining on his contract and would obviously want some serious compensation in return.
Let's digress for a moment. When former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein became the president of the Chicago Cubs, the Red Sox received pitcher Chris Carpenter as compensation. He was injured and needed surgery. Another example: The Chicago White Sox traded manager Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins last year in exchange for two minor leaguers.
In both cases, Epstein and Guillen changed leagues. But because the Sox and Blue Jays are in the same division, if the Blue Jays were to let Farrell go, they'd likely want a top-tier player.
When Boston approached Toronto last season about Farrell, the Blue Jays reportedly wanted either Clay Buchholz or Daniel Bard as compensation. The Red Sox thought it was too much to give up and ultimately hired Bobby Valentine as manager. This time around, the Blue Jays might want players such as rookie prospects Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway in return for Farrell.
If the cost of compensation ends up being that steep, the Red Sox would be better off looking elsewhere for their next skipper. GM Ben Cherington said he would take his time, and he no doubt has a list of candidates in mind. Sox bench coach Tim Bogar didn't mesh with Valentine, but Bogar is highly respected by the current players. Former Sox third baseman Bill Mueller, who's a special assistant for the Dodgers, should also be on that list. Blue Jays first-base coach Torey Lovullo was interviewed for the vacancy in Boston last season and managed at Triple-A Pawtucket before Farrell hired him in Toronto. Others who deserve consideration include White Sox third-base coach Joe McEwing and current PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler.
Again, Farrell might be the perfect guy -- but that won't be the case if the Blue Jays demand too much in return.
Right man, right time
There's a certain segment of the Toronto baseball-watching public, disgusted by the Blue Jays' dismal performance this season, who respond to the speculation that John Farrell is headed for Boston with, "You want him? You can have him."
But for Sox fans skeptical of Farrell because of the Jays' 89-loss record this season, a gentle reminder: The Sox have experience in hiring guys who flamed out in their previous job but did just fine in Boston. Exhibit A: In 2000, Terry Francona's fourth and last season in Philadelphia, the Phillies lost 97 games, finished last and Francona couldn't cross the street without being booed.
After a couple of intermediate stops as special assistant (Cleveland) and bench coach (Oakland, Texas), Francona's next chance to manage came with the Sox in 2004. We all know how that worked out.
And if anything, the Sox might feel even better about Farrell's qualifications than they did about Francona's. For one, they know him a lot better from the four years he spent as Francona's pitching coach here and before that the time he spent with Cleveland working with Mike Hazen, one of Ben Cherington's most trusted advisers.
Farrell knows the territory. He won't have to work at winning the trust of the players. It's already there for the pitchers, of course, and the key veterans such as Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Cherington won't be working off a different script than his manager. The owners will approve of the face of intelligence and integrity that Farrell will present to the public. There's nothing about him that suggests pushover.
Surround him with a couple of dynamic new coaches. How about a Gabe Kapler or a Billy Mueller, or both? How about promoting a Rich Sauveur or importing a Rick Peterson to handle the pitching? Moves like those would result in an environment tailored for success.
If the Blue Jays insist, give 'em some compensation. But this is the right man for the right team at the right time.