John Farrell for Bobby Valentine: The Second Managerial Trade Ever?
Thursday August 23rd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: After the Red Sox cut ties with longtime manager Terry Francona, there were a few options for his replacement. Among those options were former pitching coach for the 2007 World Series Champion team John Farrell, and high-profile former-manager Bobby Valentine. Both seemed to be good options, and the Red Sox signed Valentine. Farrell won the managerial job with the Blue Jays after the retirement of Cito Gaston (Brian Butterfield, DeMarlo Hale, and Sandy Alomar, Jr. were also rumored to be vying for the position). Each team was poised to finish atop or close to the top of the AL East standings. This wasn’t the case for either team.
First I’ll cover the Red Sox. Their main problem was the lack of production. Adrian Gonzalez—who the Sox acquired to help carry the offense failed to produce at the beginning of the season. At the All Star Break, he had less than ten home runs. Jacoby Ellsbury was injured after only a few games, and the pitching was absolutely awful. Carl Crawford took a while to come back from his wrist and elbow injuries, and recently shut his season down to undergo Tommy John surgery. Jon Lester, the number one starter was up and down, and has had an off-year. Josh Beckett received boos after being accused of playing golf in between starts. There was obviously something wrong. The Red Sox fell out of contention fairly early—something that wasn’t expected. A lot of the criticism fell on the manager. Bobby Valentine was accused of demeaning the players, saying something along the lines of “nice inning, kid” to rookie Will Middlebrooks after he made an error. Another of Valentine’s slip-ups was calling into question Kevin Youkilis’ effort. This ultimately led to Youk being traded to the White Sox, ending his successful Red Sox career. Veterans such as Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez didn’t take kindly to this and sent a text to management, spurring a meeting between front office officials and players. The situation in Boston is not good; players are divided into players versus manager and players versus players that support the manager. A change in Boston seems necessary; the pitching coach has already been relieved, and it seems like Bobby Valentine may be next.
The Blue Jays haven’t lived up to expectations either. This isn’t nearly the situation that the Red Sox are in, but a move might be necessary. The Blue Jays can say they lost this season to injuries. Brandon Morrow was placed on the DL with an oblique injury after putting up big numbers and pitching multiple shutouts. Jose Bautista and J.P. Arencibia both injured their wrists, and multiple other pitchers spent time on the DL. Meanwhile, Ricky Romero has had the worst season of his four-year career. Although they underperformed, the Blue Jays weren’t expected to be an AL East powerhouse. Firing the manager might not be the correct solution, but a change might be needed.
A unique solution to these problems could be swapping managers. This has only ever happened once before in Major League Baseball history (Aug of 1960 Cleveland Indians traded their Manager Joe Gordon to the Tigers in exchange for Jimmie Dykes going to the Indians.) Valentine needs to get out of Boston, so why not think about trading him and maybe Daniel Bard to Toronto? Bard has been a major disappointment for the Red Sox; he was expected to be a front-of-the-rotation starter but was sent to Triple-A. He has not regained his form since the demotion. The Red Sox could send Valentine and Bard to Toronto in return for Farrell. Boston would be getting the change they need (and a respected former Sox coach), and the Blue Jays would be getting a new manager and prized pitcher. The Red Sox could cover both managers’ contracts, and each team would profit. The Red Sox also wouldn’t risk alienating Jason Varitek—a suggested successor to Valentine. If Varitek were to take over for Valentine and the team was to be unsuccessful, he would be the one to take the fall.
Farrell (as reported by several media outlets) apparently has one more year left on his contract. So if the Blue Jays were to keep him, they could lose him for nothing next offseason. This could be the same situation as a player with an expiring contract being sent to a contending team as a “rent-a-player”. The Red Sox could try Farrell out next season and if he didn’t work out, the team could let his contract expire without any hard feelings. This would be a better situation than signing a Boston legend such as Jason Varitek and having the potential for all hell to break loose, leading to the catastrophic situation of having to cut ties with a revered former player.
Apparently Farrell is annoyed by the rumors, but a move like this could make both teams better. Valentine isn’t making the situation in Boston any better as he is rumored to be spending the majority of his time in his office—away from the players. A manager-for-manager trade would be somewhat out-of-the-ordinary, but one can always speculate. Hey…I just did!
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***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***
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Posted on August 23, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged adrian gonzalez, AL East, baseball, blue jays, bobby valentine, boston, canada, contenders, daniel bard, front office, john farrell, managers, mlb, mlb reports, rays, red sox, toronto, trade, unhappiness, yankees. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.