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It sounds illogical, but what could make John Farrell available to become the next manager of the Red Sox is the fact that he hasn’t found success in that job with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Farrell is 154-170 in two seasons with the Jays, his teams finishing in fourth place two seasons in a row. The Jays were 73-89 this season, their worst record since 2004.
The Jays were 85-77 under Cito Gaston in 2010 and have regressed since.
As pitching coach of the Red Sox from 2007-10, Farrell developed a well-deserved reputation for his work with the staff and the ability to prepare pitchers for games. He molded the career of Jon Lester and was able to bring the best out of Josh Beckett and others.
But the Blue Jays have seen their team earned run average climb since Farrell became manager. Toronto had a 4.22 ERA in 2010. It went to 4.32 in 2011, and 4.64 this season. The ERA of their starting pitchers has jumped by half a run since Farrell took over.
Factors beyond the control of any manager contribute to statistics, particularly injuries. But Farrell’s influence on the pitchers has yet to manifest itself on the field.
More damaging were the allegations veteran infielder Omar Vizquel made late in the season that the Blue Jays were a sloppy team on the field.
“It’s part of the inexperience,” Vizquel told the Toronto Sun. “If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it — they just let it go — we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
“We have to stand up and say something right after that mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse.
“Sometimes you have to punish players because they’re making the same mistakes over and over again. I think the coaching staff has a big responsibility to kind of get in there and tie things up a little, have a bit more communication with their players.”
Farrell met with Vizquel and later subtly criticized the veteran, saying he was not present for practice sessions that stressed fundamentals.
“In those early work teaching settings, having not been there, he might not have been aware of the messages and examples we continue to address,” Farrell said.
Vizquel apologized during a clubhouse meeting, but did not back down from his comments.
“I don’t regret it,” he said. “I think we need to talk a little more about the things we do on the field.”
Toronto also made news in September when infielder Yunel Escobar was suspended for three games after taking the field with a homophobic slur written on his eye black in Spanish. Farrell said at the time that it went unnoticed. It added to the perception that the Jays were poorly disciplined.
Major league sources have said the Red Sox plan to seek permission to speak with Farrell. As of Friday, that had not happened.
Toronto has a policy not to allow employees to leave for a lateral move, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has given no indication that will change.
Because Farrell has one year remaining on his contract, any deal to bring him back to Boston would likely require some compensation.
The Sox were interested in Farrell last season before they turned to Bobby Valentine. Now their interest could be magnified after Valentine’s tumultuous 10 months on the job.
For that to happen, Farrell would have to first tell Toronto he wants to leave. Since speculation about Boston’s interest in him started weeks ago, Farrell has said he is committed to the Blue Jays. But now that Valentine has been fired, behind-the-scenes machinations will start in earnest.
If Farrell were to leave, Toronto has a ready replacement in Sandy Alomar Jr.
The Indians bench coach is one of two candidates for the job in Cleveland. But the other is Terry Francona, who interviewed Friday and is considered a strong favorite.
Alomar interviewed with the Jays when they hired Farrell two years ago and was one of the finalists. His brother, Hall of Fame infielder Roberto Alomar, does not have a position with the Jays but spends considerable time around the team.