On Monday, the Blue Jays officially named John Farrell the 12th manager in franchise history. Sitting alongside general manager Alex Anthopoulos at Rogers Centre, Farrell said he was humbled to be entrusted with such an important role. It was a landmark hiring for the ballclub, and it had fans asking plenty of questions.
Seeing as how Farrell doesn't have any managerial experience, what appears to have set him apart from the other top three candidates (Sandy Alomar Jr., DeMarlo Hale and Brian Butterfield)?
-- Michael F., Mississauga, Ontario
First off, it should be pointed out that none of the four candidates in question have Major League managing experience in their background. Hale and Butterfield have managed in the Minor Leagues, but their experience in the bigs is limited to roles as coaches.
In that sense, all four would have come with some risk, given their thin resumes as managers. Farrell happens to be the lone candidate among that group with front-office experience. He was the director of player development for the Indians from 2001-06.
That background in player development, combined with his experience as the Red Sox pitching coach, played a large role in becoming Toronto's choice in the end. The Blue Jays have a strong young pitching core in place, and Farrell can provide another set of eyes to help with their development.
The makeup of the coaching staff may also have been a factor. Farrell is retaining pitching coach Bruce Walton, and Butterfield was persuaded to return as Toronto's third-base coach. Keeping Walton and Butterfield in the fold was a great move for the Blue Jays.
With the hiring of Farrell as manager, rumors that Manny Ramirez wants to join him in Toronto have come to light. Please tell me the GM would not seriously consider signing Manny. Would he honestly be a good fit?
-- Scott T., Innisfil, Ontario
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Anthopoulos is not one to rule anything out before doing his homework. So the Blue Jays might look into what it would take to acquire Ramirez and evaluate whether he would be a fit for the roster. Given the makeup of Toronto's group, I'm not sure Manny would be a fit, and it's likely his asking price exceeds the value the Jays place on him.
The Blue Jays have a promising left fielder in Travis Snider, and the designated hitter role is currently filled by Adam Lind. There has been talk of shifting Lind to first base, but the Jays have not seen enough of him at the position to know whether that is a realistic move.
Maybe there isn't room for Manny, but his comments about wanting to play in Toronto are a good sign. That shows that the hiring of Farrell has gained the attention of other players. The Blue Jays want to return to a level where players want to play for them. They look to be heading in that direction.
What big-name free agent could we see coming to Toronto this year, if any at all? I know the Jays are looking for someone to play first and third base with good on-base percentage. How about Adrian Beltre? I think he would be a good fit in Toronto.
-- Jesse B., Picton, Ontario
Beltre would make a lot of sense for the Blue Jays, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen. Anthopoulos has noted that he's more likely to look to the trade market than free agency to fill the club's needs this winter, but Beltre would definitely be an interesting exception.
Toronto might decide against offering third baseman Edwin Encarnacion a contract, creating a hole at third base. Internal options would be Jose Bautista or Aaron Hill, but the Jays would prefer to keep them in right field and at second base, respectively. Beltre's a Gold Glove-caliber defender with a bat to match.
I was only able to watch part of Farrell's introductory news conference, but at no time was Cito Gaston mentioned. I would have liked to ask if he had any input in the choosing of his replacement. What will be his involvement in the coming years?
-- Frank B., Thornhill, Ontario
Gaston provided some input throughout the process, offering suggestions for his replacement in a few cases. In the end, though, this was Anthopoulos' decision, and Gaston respected that completely. As for Gaston's new advising role, the long-time Jays manager will attend portions of Spring Training and he plans on being in Toronto for much of the coming season. He will be available to give input when the Blue Jays are interested for his view on a situation.
Does a team ever deny another team permission to interview a coach for a managerial opening? I'm surprised that Boston would allow Farrell to go to another team in the same division.
-- Kevin H., Westminster, Md.
Sure, there are some cases where teams deny permission. The Blue Jays were denied permission by the Dodgers to interview Tim Wallach for the managerial vacancy. As for Farrell, the Red Sox were undoubtedly upset to lose him, but that would not stop them from allowing him to advance his career.
Do the Jays have any players leaving that will net them some extra Draft picks if signed by another team?
-- Paul H., Langley, British Columbia
The Blue Jays have two free agents who project to have Type A status (relievers Scott Downs and Jason Frasor) and two who project as Type B (catcher John Buck and closer Kevin Gregg). If the free agents are offered arbitration and they subsequently decline, Type A players are worth two compensatory Draft picks and Type B players are worth one. Gregg will join the free-agent pool only if the Blue Jays decide against exercising his club option for 2011.
What prospects should we be excited to see make it to the big show for the Blue Jays in 2011?
-- Paul B., Toronto
The obvious pick would be right-hander Kyle Drabek, who debuted with the Blue Jays down the stretch in 2010. There is a good chance that he opens the season in Toronto's starting rotation. Beyond Drabek, one pitcher to keep an eye on is Zach Stewart. There is also the chance that shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria forces Toronto's hand in 2011 if he shows rapid progression in his second professional season.
With John Buck wanting to come back to the Blue Jays and J.P. Arencibia waiting in the wings, is it possible to re-sign Buck as their starting catcher next year and try to switch Arencibia to first base?
-- Mark M., Hamilton, Ontario
Anthopoulos made it clear at the end of the season that Arencibia's future is as a catcher. Can he play some first base on days he's not behind the plate? Perhaps. Arencibia hopes to develop into a Victor Martinez-type catcher whose bat is strong enough to remain in the lineup even when he's not catching. As for re-signing Buck, unless he is viewed as the full-time catcher for the next two years or so, it seems unlikely that he will be back in a Blue Jays uniform in 2011.