John Farrell And The Insanity of Player - Manager Trades

Hey, look, it's the guy whose managerial reputation is built on his time as a pitching coach! Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

As the season has fallen further and further out of reach for the Red Sox, culminating in the blockbuster trade which is as close to a white flag as you can get without any actual laundry being involved, it's become more and more likely that Bobby Valentine is not long for this team.

This has, of course, led to everyone who has ever played baseball to be thrown out by Red Sox fans as a possible successor. The most popular name by far, however, seems to be John Farrell, current Blue Jays manager and former Red Sox pitching coach.

There is development on that front. Not solid, real development, but stirrings. As related by SportsNet.ca's Shi Davidi, Buster Olney told ESPN Radio Monday that "the Red Sox actually thought they were going to get him last fall, they got very close, but the Blue Jays pulled back."

And then he suggested the idea of a Daniel Bard - John Farrell trade.

Stop the ride, I want to get off.

First, let's address the simple idea of a player - manager trade. By and large it's accepted in baseball that, excepting extreme cases, a manager does not effect a team's record all that much. It is said that they can only lose games, not win them, and that for the most part they'll only lose a few over the course of the year unless they're an absolute disaster.

Now, what we have in Bobby Valentine does seem to be an absolute disaster, from strategic in-game decisions to his complete inability to keep the clubhouse quiet. But that just means Bobby V. needs to go for anyone not so perfectly wrong for this team. The idea of trading a player who has been very good in the past and could well be very good again in the near future when all the team needs to do is find someone competent seems like an overreaction. You will find few scenarios where trading a player for a manager is worthwhile, and none of them involving a player who has the ability to be as good as Daniel Bard.

But that's alright, because as much as Davidi does a good job of connecting some logical dots, this is still just a bit of random nonsense from Buster Olney for now, with no real indication that it will ever develop into anything. Still, I'd like to take the opportunity to ask a question I've been wanting to ask for a while now: why on Earth would the Red Sox even want Farrell?

Now, it does seem clear that there is interest there, I won't deny that, but let's look at Farrell's CV, shall we?

  • 2 years managing Blue Jays
  • Two bottom-half finishes, each year worse than the one before (I'm making what I feel are some fairly safe assumptions about the last month here)
  • Generally considered liberal with steals, falling below the break-even line in SB% both years.
  • Trails the league in sacrifice hits.
  • Toronto fans don't seem to love him, particularly. Bullpen management a weakness.

So Farrell passes the bunt test, and nothing else. Not the most in-depth of analysis, I'll give you, but there's really not a lot to recommend him coming from his supporters, either, so I feel kind of comfortable with that.

The only reason Farrell gets the love he does is that he was with the team when times were good, and left before they got too bad. Fans think back to Terry Francona, remember the "good ol' days", and think "well let's go get Farrell. It'll be just like old times." Except that Farrell, of course, was never the manager then.

Maybe he'd be good for the clubhouse, with those faces who were around in 2010 perhaps more welcoming of him than an outsider. But if that's the main concern, why not just go with Tim Bogar, the guy who players have been said to seek out in place of Bobby Valentine this year? Who has been with the team since 2009? The guy who the Sox have seemingly jealously guarded based on his managerial potential?

It's a roll of the dice, but that's better than grabbing the guy that Blue Jays fans would just as soon see gone from Toronto, and it wouldn't even require the insanity that is trading a talented player for a 50-year-old who fills out lineup cards.

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