Farrell suggests Blue Jays’ goal is to compete for World Series
|10.25.10 at 4:07 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, in his introduction as the Toronto Blue Jays manager on Monday afternoon, expressed his gratitude to the Sox for the opportunity they gave him to return to the field at the same time that he made clear his desire to compete with Boston. The man whom Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos heralded, “first and foremost, [a]s a leader,” suggested that he pursued the Blue Jays job because he identified a team with the resources — both in terms of talent and financial — to pursue championships.
“We have a common bond here. Going through this interview process, it became very clear, the direction this organization is heading, the resources that are available to support a club that is going to compete and compare with New York and Boston in time. Those were all selling points to me,” Farrell, who will wear No. 52 with Toronto, said at the press conference to introduce him as manager. “I come here and share the same vision that [Anthopoulos and team president Paul Beeston] do, and that’s to win a World Series.”
Farrell said the opportunity with the Blue Jays was clearly more compelling than previous ones he’d been presented with (whether interviews about managerial openings with the Indians, Mariners or Pirates, all of which he declined) in part because he had seen at some length the significant potential of a Blue Jays team that finished 2010 with an 85-77 record on the strength of a lineup that set a franchise record for home runs and a young, talent-laden rotation that features Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Shaun Marcum and Brett Cecil.
“I think it’s clear, no matter of whether it’s on the Red Sox side of the field or the other side of the field, what’s taking place here,” said Farrell. “It didn’t give the impression of a one-year wonder. You saw the youth, talent in the rotation. … The ultimate goal is to sustain this, not to say we did it one year, but to say we did it year over year.”
Farrell said that his experience pitching in Toronto in the early-1990s, when the SkyDome (now the Rogers Centre) was sold out nightly, made the idea of managing the Blue Jays even more appealing. He suggested that there was potential for Toronto, when it is ready to contend, to operate with the resources of a large-market team (Toronto, he noted, is the fourth largest market in North America) that can acquire free agents to complement the talented, largely homegrown core of the club.
Already, he views the team as having a number of components needed to make headway in the AL East.
“There is a lot of work to be done, yet [there are] strengths of this ballclub, which center around a young pitching staff, a very good starting core, an offense that set records with the home run ball,” said Farrell. “We also know that in this division, it’s extremely difficult to compete. … It’s an extremely challenging division.
“We can assemble a team to [compete]. We know that we have to earn the trust of our fans. That’s where coming back to the vision of winning a World Series is here,” said Farrell. “Working off the strengths of the individuals on this roster, we can achieve that.”
If the Blue Jays put themselves in position to compete for a championship, Farrell said that he received assurances that Toronto will be able to carry a payroll to support such ambitions.
“Tampa’s been able to do it on a much lower payroll. I think the most important thing is how efficient we are as an organization. … At the right time, there’s an ability to sign free agents to augment the roster that’s currently in place,” said Farrell. “We know we’re not going to be at the level of New York, per se. At the same time, there’s going to be the ability to compete.
“This is where conversations got very pointed with Alex,” Farrell added. “At the right time, there’s going to be an ability to support a very strong payroll.”
Farrell said that the goal of the Jays will be to rank in the top five of the American League in runs scored and runs prevented, suggesting that doing so bodes well for teams with World Series aspirations. He also said that the Jays will retain pitching coach Bruce Walton and third-base coach Brian Butterfield. (Butterfield was one of the other finalists for the managerial vacancy.)
The 48-year-old Blue Jays manager took time to thank the Red Sox — starting with manager Terry Francona for the opportunity he had in Boston. He praised Francona’s managerial style, in which he “never wavered” in support of his players, leading to a clubhouse atmosphere where members of the roster “wanted to run through a wall for him.”
“Tito, the last four years standing beside you have been a tremendous learning experience,” said Farrell. “The opportunity that you and [the Red Sox front office] afforded me in Boston is really what allowed me to make this progression to come here today.”
Anthopoulos said that ultimately, while it represented a plus that Farrell was experienced with the AL East and while some might view it as a drawback that he had an on-field background solely with pitchers (first as a big league pitcher, then as a pitching coach), ultimately, neither of those elements was important in the selection of Farrell.
“It was irrelevant to me what position he played, because he showed all of the other criteria that were important. … [Knowledge of the division] was part of it, but the person was more important than anything else,” said the Toronto GM. “It came down to the person and the things we were going to value.”
Just as was the case for the Sox when they tabbed Farrell as a pitching coach, and when they did everything in their power to retain him when other teams asked to interview him about managerial vacancies, the Blue Jays reached the conclusion that they had found their man. And Farrell, for his part, believes that he has found the right organization in which to cut his managerial teeth.
“I’m anxious to get started,” Farrell said. “I’m anxious to grab this situation wholeheartedly.”
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