An open letter to John Farrell from a Toronto Blue Jays fan.
Well, it's been a crazy couple of weeks, hasn't it? Congratulations on finally getting your dream job. I can honestly say that I hope the Boston media, fans, and players make you long for the days of injury problems, pitcher implosions, and bad bullpen management.
I am writing this letter to tell you why I feel this way.
When you were hired in October 2010, I was excited. While I didn't share the same negative feelings towards Cito Gaston as some of the other fans, I was ready for a change and a fresh start at the managerial position. Hiring a pitching coach seemed like a good idea, as we had a lot of young pitchers with the team or on their way up.
In your first season as manager, the fan base was willing to give you what can be best described as a free pass. It was your first year managing in the big leagues, and some hiccups along the way were to be expected. And the hiccups came: your struggles with bullpen management, aggression on the base paths, and understanding platoon splits. Fortunately for you, the team's record (.500) wasn't a disaster, and while fans recognized you had some issues that needed fixing, we were more than willing to give you the next two years of your three-year deal to work those issues out.
At the end of the 2011 season, the Red Sox collapsed in glorious fashion and, as I'm sure you are well aware, fired manager Terry Francona when it all ended. Not long after that, the rumblings started: "The Boston Red Sox are interested in John Farrell." I remember thinking this was a joke when I first heard about it. 'Yes, the Red Sox have an entitled attitude, but there's no way they really think they can take our manager while he's still under contract, right?' Wrong. As days passed it became more apparent that the Red Sox were serious about wanting you to manage their team. You wisely kept your mouth shut through all of it, which gave me the opportunity to defend you to anyone who suggested you wanted to leave. You really got me there, didn't you? Nice one!
The next thing we heard was that the Blue Jays had introduced a new club policy: no lateral moves. "That was that," I thought. "Alex Anthopoulos told the Red Sox no, and it's over."
Once again, of course, I was wrong. The Red Sox' 2012 season spiraled out of control with the hiring of Bobby Valentine as their manager, and ours didn't go much better, though even now I won't lay the blame for that on your shoulders. However, your poor use of pinch hitters and Francisco Cordero in high leverage situations (not to mention your handling of the Yunel Escobar eye black situation) caused some of the hope for your improvement as a manager to begin to dwindle. By the end of what was a truly dismal year, I was advocating for a one year extension for you. This would have avoided the lame duck problem, but still given you one more chance to prove that you could manage this team to a winning season.
The Red Sox firing of Bobby Valentine couldn't have come as a surprise to anyone, and the return of the rumours about you wasn't exactly shocking either. On October 13th, you said this:
"I can tell you this--in my conversations with Alex, it hasn't distracted me from my job and what the commitment there is. I'm extremely challenged and happy as manager of the Blue Jays"
That quote, along with my attitude of skepticism, led me once again to believe that you weren't going anywhere. Leaks from your lovely new friends in Boston, though, kept me from holding to my belief for long. Report after report came out alleging that the Blue Jays and Red Sox were deep in talks about compensation for you, and eventually we all had to face the facts: you were no longer going to be the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays.
By the time the news broke officially, I was at peace with the situation. We had acquired a somewhat useful player in Mike Aviles, and we'd get a fresh start with a new manager after a miserable season. It was only when you opened your mouth that feelings of hatred began to bubble up.
I understand that Boston is the team you grew up cheering for and that you spent years in that organization. I don't think it was wrong for you to want to manage there. But "discretion" and "sensitivity" are also good things, (not to mention "gratitude" and "not being a jerk") and you could have displayed a lot more of them. Your comments about Alex Anthopoulos's hypothetical return to the Expos were classless, unnecessary, and untrue.
I guess all this is just a long-winded way to say that you really disappointed me. I had high hopes for us, John, and now you're just another Boston Red Sock. Maybe someday my dream can come true too, and I'll get to watch the Blue Jays beat the team from the "epicentre of baseball" on the last day of the season to win the AL East, while you cry in the dugout.