With Bobby Valentine officially gone after months of being left dangling on the hook, the focus in Boston has immediately shifted to Blue Jays manager John Farrell. And I’m left to wonder why.
Now, Farrell had a sterling reputation in five years as Boston’s pitching coach. But managing a team is a different animal. And little Farrell has done in his two years in Toronto suggests that he’s very good at it. The Blue Jays’ lack of leadership was lamented by Omar Vizquel, Jason Frasor and Adam Lind of late, and while they were citing the players, too, it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the manager that they felt the need to speak out.
“If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it — they just let it go — we’re going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again,” Vizquel said last week. “We have to stand up and say something right after that mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse.
“Sometimes you have to punish players because they’re making the same mistakes over and over again.”
And the Jays make plenty of mistakes. They were as sloppy as any team in the league on the basepaths this year.
Under Farrell’s guidance, the Jays played .500 ball in 2011 and finished 73-89 this year. It was their worst record since 2004. They allowed their most runs since 2004, even though offense is on the decline.
Now, much of Toronto’s pitching struggles have been the result of injuries, and I’m not going to blame Farrell for the fact that the Jays can’t seem to keep their pitchers healthy. But if pitching is Farrell’s specialty, it’s hard to see what good he’s doing. Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil have regressed under his watch. Only Brandon Morrow has taken a big step forward, and he was limited to 21 starts this year.
So, no, I don’t see Farrell as the answer in Boston or really anywhere else. The idea that the Red Sox should trade a couple of quality prospects or even Clay Buchholz to get him is ludicrous.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.