TORONTO – From a visual point of view, the Toronto Blue Jays do not win this title.
Seven years have passed since you sold John Farrell to the Red Sox, but his departure was never well received by Blue Jays fans – and who can blame them? After two seasons as Toronto's manager, Farrell applied to terminate his contract and chose his "dream job" in Boston over the one he already had. It worked for Farrell, who won a World Series in his first season with the Red Sox, but the Blue Jays fans didn't necessarily forgive or forget.
Even in 2015, when Mark Shapiro dropped Farrell's name at an off-season press conference, fans were thrilled with the mention. Until then, Farrell was an afterthought, just not a fan wanted his front office to applaud.
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Now the Blue Jays want to hire another Farrell in a top-class role. Shane Farrell, the son of the former manager and himself a one-time Blue Jays conscript, is expected to be named the team's next amateur scouting director, as first reported by Robert Murray. Although GM Ross Atkins declined to comment on the state of the search on Saturday, he previously stated that the club hopes to hire an employee before the holidays.
Farrell, 30, is from the Chicago Cubs, where he was a cross checker on the west coast. His ties to the Blue Jays organization go back to 2011, when his father led the Blue Jays in season one. That summer, Toronto made him the 46th draft pick, but he never played professionally and soon switched to a front office role.
In Chicago, Farrell worked in different places with the two brothers Luke and Jeremy. Jeremy works as a field coordinator in the Chicago front office, while Luke ran for the Cubs in 2018 before joining his current team, the Rangers.
The Blue Jays hire Farrell at a critical time. Only six months until they make their highest choice in decades – the fifth overall selection in 2020. The Blue Jays underlined the importance of the choice and have not voted that high since 1997 when they landed Vernon Wells. Since the worst phase of their reconstruction may be over, there is hope that they won't do as well in the near future. Farrell's first choice could be his most important.
Along the way, he will receive support from other executives, including Tony LaCava, the senior vice president of players, who Atkins describes as a "stabilizing force". Still, Farrell won't have the luxury of slipping into the new role.
Timing is faster than usual because former scouting director Steve Sanders left for the new Pirates Deputy GM less than a month ago (he's now working for former Jays manager Ben Cherington, who also happens to have the GM who took over Farrell) from Toronto in 2012).
Regardless of the circumstances, this move may not be popular with Blue Jays fans. Cue the "dream job" jokes now.
However, an experienced scout for a National League team believes that Farrell was the right person, even if he came up against criticism.
"To be honest, that's not fair at all," said the scout. "He's taking his ass off. Nobody will surpass him and he is very intelligent and a strong evaluator who trusts his compatriots. "
It would be clearly unfair to assume that Farrell will consider Toronto a stepping stone just because his father did it. But based on the same logic, we cannot assume that he will be successful just because his family is well connected in the game.
It will be years before we know how Farrell's conscripts are doing. In the meantime, he probably shouldn't expect a particularly warm hug from the many Blue Jays fans whom his father still hasn't forgiven.