Confident Farrell ready to manage Jays
Spend five minutes in a room with John Farrell and you know why GM Alex Anthopoulos liked him enough to offer him the job of managing the Toronto Blue Jays.
From the time he followed Anthopoulos up to the podium when he was formally introduced Monday in the Rogers Centre press room, Farrell, 48, looked at ease, composed and confident.
He looked like he wanted to be in that hot seat beside Anthopoulos and, perhaps even more importantly, he acted like he belonged in that chair.
He was even composed enough to crack a joke while he was struggling to put on the uniform and cap: "I put one of these on before, don't worry," he said with a chuckle.
That composure will be important for the New Jersey resident, considering he'll be the main man in the dugout for the first time in his career.
"I have the same vision as Alex and [Jays president] Paul Beeston do," Farrell said. "That is to win the World Series … but there's still a lot of work to do."
His lack of experience didn't bother Anthopoulos, who was won over by Farrell's poise during his discussions with the former Red Sox pitching coach,
"The conversation with John just flowed," Anthopoulos said. "It may have gone three hours. There was an immediate connection there.
"[Experience] was something we talked about. That being said, [Yankees manager] Joe Girardi was at one point a first-time manager."
Jays lock up Butterfield, Walton
Another feather in Anthopoulos's cap on Monday came in the form of retaining well-respected Toronto third-base coach Brian Butterfield.
Butterfield, 52, has been with the Jays since 2002 and was in the running for the managerial position. There was word that Butterfield would be open to moving elsewhere if he didn't get the managerial job.
But after Anthopoulos locked up Farrell on Friday, both men called "Butter" soon after.
"He's an outstanding third-base coach," Farrell said. "His heart was clearly in Toronto."
With a first-year manager entering the fray, locking up Butterfield and pitching coach Bruce Walton, who will also stay with the club, could help the Jays acclimatize to Farrell's style.
Long candidate list
Farrell beat out a long list of candidates to replace outgoing manager Cito Gaston following an exhaustive and secretive search that included interviews with 18 candidates
The list included names such as Cleveland first-base coach and former all-star catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., Boston bench coach and minor league managerial star DeMarlo Hale, as well as the Blue Jays' own solid third-base coach Brian Butterfield, among others.
"I think the biggest thing that stands out … is that John is first and foremost is a leader," Anthopoulos said. "And that's the No. 1 thing you need in that clubhouse. It comes down to making a decision based on the person and your belief in that person."
That'll come in handy when the first-time manager is trying to get his players to buy into what he's selling, which includes a more focused approach to getting on base and a more aggressive attitude on the basepaths.
Toronto had a standout year with the long ball, hitting a whopping 257 home runs to lead the majors and set a team record. But the Jays were only ninth in runs scored and a paltry 24th in team batting average (.248).
"Our goal would be to be in the top-five in runs scored and in team ERA. in the American League," he said. "Those teams contend for the World Series."
Already sporting the team's colours — wearing a baby blue dress shirt with a striped blue tie underneath his suit — Farrell spoke in terms Anthopoulos has lived by in his early tenure as Toronto's GM.
Focus stays on improvement
It means keeping a major focus on nurturing prospects and players within the organization to stay competitive in the punishing AL East year in and year out.
Farrell is credited with turning Red Sox aces Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester into elite hurlers and has a successful track record of player development. And he's joining a team with a very promising young rotation spearheaded by Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero.
"Teams, regardless of the market size, got the ability to produce their own players from within, [which] is the lifeblood of the organization," Farrell said.
And the talent within the Jays' system was one of the more enticing things that attracted Farrell, who has turned down previous offers to manage.
"You look at the players that have been drafted, signed and developed in this organization," he said. "That's where I think things begin to separate themselves out."
Only one of two former pitchers currently managing big-league clubs, Farrell was drafted by Oakland in 1980 and threw his first pitch in the pros in 1987 with Cleveland, a nine-year career that also took him to California and Detroit.
He spent five years coaching and recruiting for Oklahoma State University before he returned to Cleveland as head of player development in 2001. His farm system was named best in the majors in 2003 by Baseball America.
Farrell went back into the dugout in 2006 when Boston manager Terry Francona hired him as the Red Sox's pitching coach, where he won a World Series with the team in 2007.