A lot has happened with the Boston Red Sox. Maybe you noticed. They completed one of the worst collapses in baseball history to fall out of the playoff picture on the final day of the regular season. Soon thereafter, they lost their manager, and soon after that, they lost their GM. They have a new GM already in Ben Cherington, who was formally introduced on Tuesday, but they're only just beginning their search for a new leader in the dugout.
A number of names have been floated as possibilities. Among them was Blue Jays manager John Farrell, who was the pitching coach for Boston as recently as 2010. Once upon a time, Farrell was considered a favorite to eventually take over the Red Sox before he moved north, and there's been rampant speculation that he could return to serve as a stern and familiar guide.
But, no dice. Farrell isn't happening. Reads a recent Blue Jays press release, issued in response to the rumors:
Due to the distraction caused by media speculation regarding our employee permission policy, the Toronto Blue Jays have amended their policy and will not grant permission for lateral moves.
By "lateral moves," the Jays mean they won't let a current employee leave for the same job somewhere else. John Farrell is the Blue Jays' manager, so while he's under contract, the team won't let him become the Red Sox's (or anyone else's) manager. It's that simple. Farrell recently noted that he's not following the situation in Boston and is focused only on what's best for the Jays in 2012, so it's not like the odds were ever great that he was going to leave anyway, but now it's official. John Farrell will remain with Toronto, and the Sox will have to look somewhere else.
A few things on this story:
(1) The word count for that press release is 29. The press release is 29 words long. That's the whole thing. There are two authors on the byline: GM Alex Anthopoulos, and President and CEO Paul Beeston. The two eventually agreed upon the official release after a failed earlier attempt to write it up by alternating words.
Due cupcakes! the cupcakes! caused cupcakes! media cupcakes! regarding cupcakes! employee cupcakes! policy, cupcakes! Toronto cupcakes! Jays cupcakes! amended cupcakes! policy cupcakes! will cupcakes! grant cupcakes! for cupcakes! moves. butt!
(2) Note the use of the word "amended" in the release. This is not a clarification - this is a change. Used to be that Blue Jays employees were free to look for job opportunities elsewhere to their heart's content. Now they can look only for better jobs than the ones they already have. And maybe worse jobs. I don't know. But definitely not equivalent jobs.
In other words, the Blue Jays had a long-standing policy that allowed for certain things. Once one of those allowances came up as a subject of conversation, they changed their policy to take it away. I don't know why they're trying to pretend this isn't specifically about John Farrell and the Red Sox. They might as well call it the Boston Amendment.
(3) There's a crazy and terrifying angle to this. From Jordan Bastian:
It had been reported in recent days that the Red Sox still viewed Farrell as a candidate.
As a result, Anthopoulos said he and Beeston, along with others employed within Toronto's front office and field staff, had been "inundated with phone calls and emails" about the issue. The Blue Jays' GM indicated that the wave of media inquiries quickly became a distraction from more important baseball matters.
One report connecting the Blue Jays and the Red Sox and the Blue Jays' entire organization was overwhelmed to the point of virtual inactivity. While this story was going around, the Blue Jays had trouble doing what they wanted to be doing. This episode demonstrates the extent of the mayhem the Boston media can incite, and one can only hope that the Red Sox themselves haven't been paying close attention, because if they have, they've surely come to understand the competitive advantage this has brought to light.
By leaking information both true and fictitious to the media, the Red Sox can tie up other organizations during the offseason at their whim. They can tie them up during the winter meetings, and at the trade deadline. They might not be able to stop them from making moves altogether, but they can slow them down, such that, relatively speaking, the Red Sox are going a mile a minute.
It's a dangerous game the Red Sox could start playing. It remains to be seen whether Cherington is above that sort of media-driven sabotage, but he's a sneaky-looking man.