Roundup: Reaction to Farrell in Toronto

No surprise, but the reaction in Toronto to John Farrell’s hiring wasn’t pretty. Here’s a sampling:

* Bruce Arthur, National Post: "John Farrell was always an upside play for the Toronto Blue Jays. He wasn’t a big-league manager before he came here, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos wanted the guy with the best long-term prospects, and his exhaustive search concluded that Farrell was the guy. A great day for the franchise, he called it.

"Well, there are very few unalloyed great days for this franchise, and that wasn’t one of them. After two years in Toronto, and a year-long flirtation with Boston, Farrell was traded back to the Red Sox on Sunday. He was their pitching coach when the Jays hired him, and frankly, it feels like he used Toronto as an internship and is now ready to head for the pros. The Blue Jays panned for gold and ended up with Mike Aviles."

* Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun: "In the end, Alex Anthopoulos thanked John Farrell. He said it in all honesty.

"It was enough to make a grown man retch.

"He thanked him, essentially, for stabbing him in the back. He didn’t get publicly worked-up about the optics of having his manager basically stolen from him — care to talk tampering? — or about the lack of loyalty here, the lack of honesty, the lack of integrity, or about how Farrell has sabotaged the start of the Blue Jays’ off-season.

"Me, I would have been vindictive. I would have waited and played the back-and-forth game with the Red Sox until they ran out of patience or offered a player more impressive than infielder Mike Aviles. And if the Red Sox so declined, then I would have done the Donald Trump thing and turned to Farrell and said: ‘You’re fired!’

"This is big business and the Blue Jays come off as small-timers here in this ugly mess of a transaction. This is major league sports and the small market Jays show themselves as little more than farm team for the large market Red Sox."

* Richard Griffin, Toronto Star: "Why were the Jays willing to listen this time and willing to let Farrell go, when a year ago it would have been regarded as bowing and scraping in the direction of Red Sox Nation?

"First, if the Jays insisted on keeping Farrell and refused to let him go this time, they would have likely had to offer him a multi-year extension. He has not earned a multi-year extension and the feeling would have been that the new contract had been forced on them.

"Second, the Jays' on-field discipline from Day 1 of the 2012 season was questionable at best. You had the incident with Brett Lawrie charging the home plate umpire and bouncing his helmet off a shin, with no apology -- even if it was just for the mere act of hitting him with the helmet, even if it was unintentional. Throughout the first two months, as the Jays' star player Jose Bautista struggled, his flashes of anger towards umpires did not reflect well on the organization and the team. The Jays were getting a bad reputation. Farrell was in charge.

"Just as the Farrell chatter to Boston was starting to heat up late in the season, more discipline issues unfolded. Shortstop Yunel Escobar played a full game with a homophobic slur handwritten in Spanish on his paste-on eyeblack. The manager and all the players denied they saw anything, but a sharp-eyed fan that traditionally takes photos from a couple of rows behind the dugout, went home and blew up a couple of shots, Tweeted about it and the rest is history. Farrell was unconvincing that nobody could have seen it. …

"The Farrell mystique that was present in October 2011 when the Sox made their first arrogant attempt to steal the manager away from a division rival had largely disappeared by October 2012."

* Jeff Blair, The Toronto Globe and Mail: "The anger at John Farrell’s betrayal is understandable, more than all this silliness of feeling screwed over by the Boston Red Sox and their allies in the media, or the void left by the acquisition of 31-year-old utility non-entity Mike Aviles as compensation instead of a sexy, power arm with a major-league pedigree.

"But what really ought to sting for the Toronto Blue Jays this Monday morning isn’t the loss of Farrell’s tactical nous – frankly, they might do better if they conduct a properly thorough search, because Farrell remains an unknown commodity as a manager after two years in Toronto – as much as the realization that the past two seasons will look a total waste to many of their fans and consumers. One step forward, one step back; a sense that so many of the core players of this team have stood still while all around them the American League East Division goes through a ground-shaking transition."