Bill James used something he called Managerial Boxes, he would ask and answer questions about a manager to give a feel for a manager's style. I did this a year ago, but Jeff Blair wrote a column asking 'Does anyone know the real John Farrell?' I figured, since he's been manager for 2 seasons, we should know a fair bit about him. I thought it was worth doing again.
I figured that by now the Jays would have either, very publicly, extended his contract or have send him off to Boston by now.
NAME: John Farrell
MANAGERS FOR WHOM HE PLAYED FOR IN THE MAJORS:
Pat Corrales, Doc Edwards, John Hart, John McNamara, Buck Rodgers, Marcel Lachemann, Mike Hargrove and Buddy Bell. I'd imagine he learned more working with Terry Francona than from the managers he was with back in his playing days.
CHARACTERISTICS AS A PLAYER:
A right-handed pitcher, didn't strike out many. He was a member of the Indians starting, full time for 2 and a half seasons, doing a pretty good job, before he suffered an elbow injury that cost him two seasons. He signed as a free agent with the Angels and made 17 starts in 1993 but wasn't effective, he had a 7.35. He wasn't an effective major league pitcher again.
WHAT HE BRINGS TO THE BALLCLUB
IS HE AN INTENSE MANAGER OR MORE OF AN EASY-TO-GET-ALONG-WITH TYPE?
He looks to by an 'easy to get along with' type. He seems to spend a lot of his time talking to the other coaches and his players.
IS HE MORE OF AN EMOTIONAL LEADER OR A DECISION-MAKER?
He is more of a decision maker.
IS HE MORE OF AN OPTIMIST OR MORE OF A PROBLEM SOLVER?
Farrell is a problem solver. Some of the problems, this year, were beyond what he could fix but he does seem to make moves try to fix things that aren't working.
HOW HE USES HIS PERSONNEL
DOES HE FAVOR A SET LINEUP OR A ROTATION SYSTEM?
I think he prefers a set lineup. This year it has been tougher to keep a set lineup with all the injuries.
DOES HE LIKE TO PLATOON?
No he doesn't. Perhaps it is because of the lack of options on his bench.
DOES HE TRY TO SOLVE HIS PROBLEMS WITH PROVEN PLAYERS OR WITH YOUNGSTERS WHO STILL HAVE SOMETHING TO PROVE? HOW MANY PLAYERS HAS HE MADE REGULARS OUT OF WHO WERE NOT REGULARS?
He seemed to prefer to use veterans, though the term 'proven player' might not be the one I'd use. Last year he got tired of watching Edwin Encarnacion play third so he put Nix in the spot. He didn't like Travis Snider in the outfield so he used Cory Patterson. But then when those two failed he tried rookies Eric Thames and Brett Lawrie.
This year, Thames didn't start out well, so he gave the job to Rajai Davis. He did start using young guys, near the end of the season, when he run out of other options. By then everyone else was injured..
The players that he made regulars who weren't before he started with the team were J.P. Arencibia, Eric Thames, Brett Lawrie and Eric Thames (though Eric didn't last). We shall see if he makes regulars out of Hechavarria and Gose.
DOES HE PREFER TO GO WITH GOOD OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OR DOES HE LIKE THE GLOVE MEN?
Good question. He didn't like Edwin at third so he put in Nix, Nix was better defensively (but still not very good), but terrible on offense. He preferred Thames, Patterson and Davis over Snider in left, Snider was better than both defensively. He was willing to try Snider in CF, something that I'm not sure many managers would have been willing to try.
I think he prefers offensive players.
DOES HE LIKE AN OFFENSE BASED ON POWER, SPEED OR HIGH AVERAGES?
He inherited a power hitting lineup and insisted that they were going to run more. I'm not sure that he prefers speed over power, but he wanted at least balance. I think he likes having speed.
Farrell has been talking about needing someone that gets on base better, which seems like a good understanding of what the team could use.
DOES HE USE THE ENTIRE ROSTER OR DOES HE KEEP PEOPLE AROUND SITTING ON THE BENCH?
He doesn't seem to like using the bench, but then he's had a pretty lousy bench. But then that's, at least in part, his fault. I felt he put too much faith in the spring training numbers. Omar Vizquel has a great spring with the bat and we put him on the roster. You and I and everyone else knew that the numbers he put up in spring wouldn't carry over to the season. Maybe Omar would have made the team no matter what he did this spring, but there does seem to be an over emphasis on small samples.
DOES HE BUILD HIS BENCH AROUND YOUNG PLAYERS WHO CAN STEP INTO A BREACH IF NEED BE OR AROUND VETERAN ROLE-PLAYERS WHO HAVE THEIR OWN FUNCTIONS WITHIN A GAME?
Veterans. Veterans. Veterans.
GAME MANAGING AND USE OF STRATEGIES
DOES HE GO FOR THE BIG-INNING OFFENSE OR DOES HE LIKE TO USE THE ONE-RUN STRATEGIES?
He used one strategies quite often.
DOES HE PINCH-HIT MUCH, AND IF SO WHEN?
Almost not at all. Likely because he didn't have great options on the bench.
ANYTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT HIS LINEUP SELECTION?
Unusual is a bit of a judgement call. He continued to use Lind in the clean-up spot long after he showed he wasn't the best choice. Moving Brett Lawrie to the top of the order was a surprising move and pretty good idea. Rasmus batting second? I'm not sure that was a great idea.
Lineups weren't his strong suit, but then with the number of players injured or having a lousy season, it wasn't easy to come up with a good lineup.
DOES HE USE THE SAC BUNT OFTEN?
The Jays had 33 sac bunts this year, exactly the league average. It seemed like sometimes the players took it upon themselves to bunt. That would be something I wouldn't allow if I was Farrell. I'd suggest to the players that they let the manager decide when and if to bunt. He doesn't bunt a lot, but I could do without the bunts in the early innings. Some of the sac bunts were attempts at bunts singles that didn't work out but still moved up a runner. .
DOES HE LIKE TO USE THE RUNNING GAME?
Oh yeah. He like to have guys run. I could do without the steal attempts of 3rd with 2 outs, which happened way too often.
IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES WILL HE ISSUE AN INTENTIONAL WALK?
He gave out just 20 intentional walks, tied for 2nd fewest in the AL. Only Texas gave out fewer intentional walks with 15. Last year Farrell handed out 28 (just under the league average) intentional walks, nice to see that he is learning.
Mostly does it to set up the double play, but, thankfully, not very often.
DOES HE HIT AND RUN VERY OFTEN?
Yes. Especially compared to Cito, who didn't use a hit and run in the last two years he was with the team. Farrell uses it a lot.
ARE THERE ANY UNIQUE OR IDIOSYNCRATIC STRATEGIES THAT HE PARTICULARLY LIKES?
He seems to like the steal of third, maybe it is his players doing it without him being in on the decision, but it seems to happen a lot. I'm ok with it if they were one out, but with 2 outs, you are already in scoring position, don't take stupid chances. If it is the players doing it on their own, he should talk to them.
Patience is still a bit of a issue. I wish he'd show a little more patience with some of the younger guys.
What I do like is that he does seem to be learning. He tries things. He doesn't seem to have set ideas that he isn't willing to question.
HANDLING THE PITCHING STAFF
DOES HE LIKE POWER PITCHERS OR PREFER TO GO WITH THE PEOPLE WHO PUT THE BALL INTO PLAY?
I think he's made it clear he prefers a power pitchers. As a pitcher, he was a 'put the ball into play' type so I'm sure he doesn't mind using those but he does like the guys that can get strikeouts.
DOES HE STAY WITH THE STARTER OR GO TO THE BULLPEN QUICKLY?
Last year he was a bit more a quick hook, this year he seemed to stay with guys a batter or two longer than I'd like.
DOES HE USE THE ENTIRE STAFF OR DOES HE TRY TO GET FIVE OR SIX PEOPLE TO DO MOST OF THE WORK?
When you have an 8 man bullpen, it is pretty tough to use everyone. He used most of his pen but always seemed to have that extra guy that would only work once every couple of weeks.
HOW LONG WILL HE STAY WITH A STRUGGLING STARTER?
It seemed like he would go a batter or two too long, then at the end of the year he started going with the tough love thing of taking guys with a couple of the starters.
ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR TYPES OF PITCHERS OF WHOM HE IS FOND?
He talked about the need of 'power arms' in the bullpen and Alex went out and got him a bunch of guys that could get strikeouts.
IS THERE ANYTHING UNIQUE ABOUT HIS HANDLING OF HIS PITCHERS?
For the second year in a row he seemed to have troubles figuring out the pen at the start of the year. After Santos was injured we were treated to Francisco Cordero's work at close. That lasted longer than we would have like. Things got better when Farrell gave Janssen the closer role and better still when Alex rebuilt the bullpen.
WHAT IS HIS STRONGEST POINT AS A MANAGER?
I think the use of his coaches, he seemed to have a good relationship with his coaches, they all seemed to get along well and he was good at giving credit to his coaches.
He seems willing to try things, we used the overshift a lot, at least as much as any other team in baseball and it seemed to work. And he is willing to learn.
IF THERE WERE NO PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL, WHAT WOULD THIS MANAGER PROBABLY BE DOING?
I don't know, politics? It seems like he has the ability to get everyone to like him.