Farrell officialy on board; Toronto GM weighs in
The Red Sox will likely wait until the conclusion of the National League Championship Series — Game 7 is Monday night — to have their formal press conference to unveil John Farrell as the team’s next manager.
Up in Toronto, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos weighed in on the situation in a conference call on Sunday afternoon. Here is a sampling.
How the whole situation opened up for Farrell to be allowed to consider the Boston job. “I’m not sure if it was a Sunday or Monday, we were off on Monday (October 8), I spoke to John, starting going through offseason plans and so on, and that was the first time we talked about the Boston circumstances, the rumors and everything else. That was the first time we sat down all season even and addressed it and even spoke about it. John expressed to me that he’d really like an opportunity to pursue that if it came about. I explained to him that at that time, we hadn’t gotten any phone call at all, and that obviously we couldn’t hold up our offseason and even go down that path if we hadn’t gotten a phone call and we couldn’t wait forever.
“We ultimately agreed that we’d give it a few more days and see if there was going to be a phone call in the next few days. If we did not, then we were going to move forward. And if there was a call, then we were going to see if we could get something done. This was, as John explained it to me, a dream job for him, an opportunity he really wanted to pursue. So we felt if there was a deal that made sense for our club as well, we were going to try to go ahead and complete that. So we never really got that far [as an extension]. That’s really the chain of events.
“And then after, I guess, our conversation, I’m not sure if it was a day later or two days later, John Henry, one of the owners of the Boston Red Sox, reached out to our CEO Paul Beeston, to express interest in working out a trade. I don’t know how long it’s been — maybe eight or nine, 10 days, or whatever it’s been from that time, and here we are today. It finally got done.”
You said at the end of the season you were certain Farrell would be your manager in 2013. What changed? “My focus was completely on the roster. We have a lot of work to do on the roster, starting rotation — that’s where it needed to be. It was 100 percent John was going to be manager for 2013. We were going to continue to discuss things like we always do — finalize staff, finalize roster, talk about offseason needs, things like that. But ultimately, when we finally discussed the Boston scenario, the fact that it was a distraction that came up, I told him we hadn’t even received a phone call at that point. He told me he’d really like to pursue it and it was something he really wanted. Ultimately, we both agreed though, that we couldn’t wait on forever. If there wasn’t any movement within a few days, then we needed to put it to bed and move forward. John was on board with that and I was on board with that. We had already started to discuss staff, players, roster. We’d already started to talk about some of those things geared towards 2013.
What was the process like? “I don’t know that I’d characterize it one way or the other. For me, with this whole process, what’s more disappointing to me is that there’s so much false information put out there, whether it’s, I read something the other day that supposedly John asked to release Omar Vizquel in July. One hundred percent false. Not one ounce of truth to it. There was all kinds of other things.
“I thought there was, to be completely candid, gamesmanship and a lot of things that went on from a negotiating standpoint, not on our end. But I thought there were a lot of things that were coming out that were completely false. You guys all know, we’re pretty good at not putting things out there in the media, or leaking things, or saying things. There was just a lot, the upsetting part for me is how many false reports were out there, that I just didn’t think were fair to John or to myself or to the organization entirely. From that standpoint, it was a story that was not going away. But we can’t do anything to control that. That’s the game we’re in. It’s going to happen with players. It doesn’t usually happen with managers, but it was just a unique timing of events, with Terry Francona being let go the year after the hiring of John. I don’t think anyone expected that. Again, this is something that John wanted. From that standpoint, once he told us that he wanted it and this was something that he wanted to pursue, at that point, it made sense for us to at least look into it with no guarantees and no assurances. If we could do something that made sense, it didn’t make sense for us to hold him back if we couldn’t work something out.
“Paul Beeston has various longstanding relationships with the ownership group there and Larry Lucchino, he’s got a very strong relationship there. So I think at times there were some things, I mentioned some of them, we don’t know where it came from or how it started, but probably didn’t go as smoothly as we think it could have. That’s just reality. We want to apologize, myself and Paul, on behalf of the ballclub, the fact that this even leaked last night. This was not a done deal last night, in the sense that John was finalizing his deal — I think he finalized that last night — but we had not finalized the medical examinations on the players, which got done today, and we did not get approval from the Commissioner until today to even go forward with this. We weren’t even pleased with the way it came out last night. Who knows? When more than one person knows what’s going on, you don’t know where these things are coming from. But from our standpoint, we wanted to apologize to our media, the fact that it did come out the way that it did. That was not our intent and that was not supposed to be done that way. It was supposed to be done collectively today. ”
Could you have had Farrell back with just one year left on his contract? “We could have. We talked about it. He was prepared to do so as well. One thing, he was honest. He didn’t lie. I think that’s one thing you have to respect him for. I certainly do. He’s always been that way. You’ll always get the truth out of John. You won’t get a lie. From that standpoint, obviously, my responsibility is to the ballclub. But I also understand. I understand the connections. I understand the ties. John has been there a long time. There’s a lot of strong relationships there.
“I understand , it’s not completely foreign to me why there’s an appeal there and why there would be a desire on his part, that this was the one job. That’s how he expressed it to me: This is the one job. There was no other city for him that was more of a perfect fit and a perfect opportunity.
But, again, he was very candid and we talked about it, but we were prepared to move forward at that point. It was not going to drag on. If we didn’t hear anything or there’d been no phone call within the next few days, that was it. it was done. We were moving forward. We’d even gotten pretty in depth about some things that we were going to do. So, we were fully prepared to move forward, 100 percent. But we got the phone call. From there, it developed over the last nine days or so.
On David Carpenter coming back to the Red Sox as compensation, “David Carpenter, at the time, we thought he had a good arm. Obviously he wasn’t the centerpiece of the deal. He was someone that we added late at the end. But the primary pieces of the deal were Happ and Lyon, and again, Carpenter was a guy that we were able to get put on late. He wasn’t the main part of that deal. But ultimately, in looking at our 40-man roster, David, unfortunately, was going to have to come off the 40-man just with the spot because even now, we’re pretty full. With getting Mike Aviles back, we’re adding a 40-man roster player. So David was going to come off the roster. He was going to be available to any team for $20,000 either way. From a procedural standpoint and a transactional standpoint, there needed to be some type of player going back in this transaction. Ultimately, for us, if there was a player who was going to come off the roster and be available to the other 29 teams for $20,000, it made sense to put him in the deal.”
How the Red Sox tried to hire Farrell last year. “I probably don’t even want to go down the path of last year. There’s enough that’s gone on this offseason with this transaction. I’m not looking to add more to this story or another dynamic. Obviously, it’s been a story that started last year, it died, and then it continued I guess in the month of August. Today, I prefer to talk about what did occur and what happened. That’s what happened this past offseason. I’d probably rather just leave it at that.
“John, he gave everything he had. He worked incredibly hard from start to finish. He never let up. His focus always remained on the job. There’s no question, you prefer that something like this does not happen. …
On Mike Aviles coming to the Jays for Farrell. “No doubt, everyone is looking at on-base pecentage. It’s very hard to get middle infielders who can play shortstop for a lot of at-bats and get a good on-base percentage guy. Those are normally superstar players. I think if we were getting a left fielder with a low on-base percentage or a first baseman with a low on-base percentage, and with the fact that he can play middle infield, if you look at the free-agent market right now with respect to shortstop, second base, it’s just so thin. The fact that Mike does have control past this year. He is a hard-nosed player. He is a gamer. He’s not without his flaws, if you look at the on-base and so on, but he is a high-energy player. He has some power. The fact that he can play the middle infield, which is so hard to find in today’s game and is becoming harder and harder to find — we just saw a big trade with Oakland trading a shortstop over to Arizona for their center fielder, who was an All-Star a few years ago, the currency that shortstops bring, it’s such a hard commodity to find. You’d love to get the ideal .360-.400 on-base percentage guy, but finding those guys at shortstop, it’s very, very hard to do.”