Farrell contradicts Jays' GM on timing of first Red Sox discussion: Griffin
The apparent misremembering of the chronology of events and discussions by Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos is what stood out most in the lovefest that doubled as a press conference. It was manager John Farrell's official introduction to the Boston media on Tuesday afternoon at Fenway Park. It's his dream job but when did he let his boss know?
The question needs to be asked because on a Sunday afternoon conference call, Blue Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos had stated emphatically that the first time that Farrell's desire to move to the Red Sox was discussed between the two men was 2012 in the week leading up to the trade that sent the 50-year-old former pitching coach back to Boston. On Tuesday, Farrell recalled it somewhat differently.
Farrell insisted that before the Jays even sent out their infamous 2011 press release spelling out a new club policy for no lateral moves for non-playing personnel, he had had a conversation with Anthopoulos a year ago about Boston the gist of which is as follows:
"(Boston) is a place that I cut my teeth as a major league coach, experienced a lot of success, had a lot strong relationships that still exist . . . and I was very candid and honest with them. And, when it came up again this year on the heels of two very extensive days of conversations in a (Jays) year in review I expressed the same interest again. And, fortunately, all parties were able to work out this trade."
Anthopoulos responded to his mis-rememberance on Tuesday, finally supporting the Farrell memory that the two indeed had had that discussion following his first year as skipper.
“I think when that story broke last year (regarding Sox interest in Farrell)," it was dealt with, I think within three or four days," Anthopoulos said on Tuesday after Farrell's version of events came out in Boston. "After that it was done. Never talked about it again. Never talked about it at all during the season, off-season.
"One time (in 2011 is the only discussion). It was addressed, it was handled, it was put to bed and then obviously the story started up again late in the year when the Red Sox started to scuffle. Obviously John's name came up again. The story came up again, but even at that time there was no need to talk about it. We were going through our own issues with the club. The first time we talked about it, again, was after that Canadian Thanksgiving weekend is when we first started to talk about it again."
This is not exactly the way Anthopoulos originally remembered the chronology of their discussions. He had said on Sunday in response to a direct question and then reiterated it on a follow-up query, he said that the first time the Boston issue was actually discussed between the two men was last week. The young GM is correcting himself now but what does that say about other aspects of the Jays-Red Sox narrative.
So it turns out that the Jays were already well aware of how Farrell felt about Boston and the possibility of him returning to the Red Sox even as the 2012 season played itself out.
The bottom line, the end result, the short term negative for the Jays as a major-league organization is that letting Farrell go to Boston is embarrassing and affirms the club's position as a second-rate power, not only in the AL East but especially in the AL East.
Of course, that's the small market way the Jays have been perceived by the American public, at least since the strike in '94 when they emerged looking and sounding markedly smaller than the proud franchise that had won back-to-back World Series in 1992-93.
The Jays have really never recovered in the ensuing 18 seasons and this sand that has been kicked in their face by the Red Sox is not going to help a current perception of the Jays as being the Houston Astros of the American League...oh wait, that's right, the Houston Astros are now the Houston Astros of the American League.
In any case, Farrell tried to be gracious regarding Toronto and his two years there as manager, but the conference with the 50-year-old Farrell sounded more like a debriefing following one of those Cold War prisoner-exchange things. Relief and gratitude to be free.
It makes no difference what Farrell said about the Jays on Tuesday, the perception of the Toronto organization being second-class had already been there before and will be there long after the slap-in-the-face Farrell choosing Boston issue recedes into the mists of time.
The only way the Jays and their fans can get a sense of satisfaction is by finding a solid managerial replacement for Farrell (and the bar has been set at a reachable height), by winning next year's season series against the Red Sox and by paying gleeful attention in the press and on fan blogs as all of New England is forced to watch Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and other Sox stars hurtle over-aggressively into useless outs at third base with the tying run at the plate, foul off safety squeezes one run down on the road or get thrown out across the diamond on a line drive to an infielder straying too far off the bag.
Good luck to John Farrell in Boston. We barely knew ye.