I have to confess that in the early stages of the Great 2010 Blue Jays Managerial Search, I didn't even give the name John Farrell a second thought when he was bandied about as one of the 327 candidates on "the list".
A pitching coach? With no managing experience? Anywhere?
Farrell was one of the names that had me raising my eyebrows at the lengths Anthopoulos et al were taking this exhaustive process in replacing Cito (feels good to be able to say it again). I mean, come on guys, I know you're doing your due diligence, but enough is enough. Quit fucking around with these marginal candidates and hire a sexy (in a baseball way) candidate like Timmy Wallach, or Dave Martinez, or hey - Sandy Alomar Jr.!
Then came word that Martinez didn't make the cut. Wallach's daddy didn't event let him interview with those bullies the Blue Jays, apparently. And suddenly, the hot candidate (Alomar Jr) was informed he was out of the running. And Butterfield.....oh, Butter. Was he ever really "in"? Down we were to a pair of Red Sox coaches, the venerable (I have no idea, but sounds right) DeMarlo Hale and the aforementioned Farrell. And then.... we were told that Hale was told he was out.
Welcome to the Toronto Blue Jays, John Farrell.
Say what (the fuck)?
But, y'know, like seemingly everything Anthopoulos has done in the big chair to date - it makes perfect sense. Forget about John Farrell the pitching coach. Embrace John Farrell, the coach tabbed as Francona's heir apparent. Embrace John Farrell, the former Director of Player Development for a Cleveland Indians organization which, under his watch, was tabbed by Baseball America as having the game's top farm system (2003) & made major inroads in Latin America (sound familiar?). Look at where the Blue Jays are in their life cycle - look at the strengths within the system both at the major league level (young starting pitching) and in the recent amateur draft (starting pitching).
A manager with a background as both a pitching coach and in player development? Make more sense now?
But (you knew there was going to be a "but")...... can he manage?
And once again, like everything Anthopoulos has done, it's a move made with an eye to the upside. Perhaps the safe pick would have been a candidate with extensive managing experience (Baylor - ugh). Maybe a long-time bench coach with a history of minor league success (Hale). I don't think anybody would have been outraged had they gone with the internal candidate (Butterfield). But that's not how Anthopoulos works. He's shown that he's willing to gamble on talent with player transactions, and the same holds true with the selection of his manager.
So far, the gambles have paid off, and we've been given no reason to believe the same won't continue to hold true. Sometimes, you've just gotta trust the process.
(....and in the event the Jays can't come to terms with their man Farrell.....he woulda been a lousy pick anyway. Heyo!)