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Farrell was seen as Sox manager, and still could be

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / October 23, 2011

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When the Red Sox and Terry Francona parted ways, Blue Jays manager John Farrell was the preferred candidate to manage the team, according to a major league source.

There is conflicting information on how deep the Red Sox are at this point in continuing their exploration of Farrell. They have discussed internally a few current managers, and the one who would fit best would be Farrell.

One major league source said the Sox would be concerned about giving compensation to a division rival. Another thought the issue already had been brought up and the discussions about it went about as well as the Theo Epstein/Cubs compensation talks. In other words, nowhere.

“Hard to believe the Blue Jays would let him go back,’’ said a team source.

Once Ben Cherington is introduced as the general manager Tuesday, his first major task will be to name a manager.

“John Farrell was always their choice to succeed Terry Francona,’’ said another major league source. “It was evident when Farrell worked under Francona that when the time came and Francona wanted to leave, Farrell was in place to take Francona’s job.’’

The Sox did not respond to an inquiry about their interest in Farrell.

While the Sox have been hesitant in turning to bench coach DeMarlo Hale for the job because of a feeling that he’s too close and tied into Francona, Farrell also was very close to Francona and learned his managerial style from him.

Farrell, 49, turned down interviews in Seattle and Pittsburgh with the expectation that his time would come in Boston. But last offseason, when it appeared Francona was firmly entrenched - with a two-year extension on the horizon - Farrell took the leap and accepted Toronto’s managing job.

Little did Farrell know that Francona wouldn’t survive. Had he known, would he have stayed to watch the demise of his friend?

Why would the Blue Jays let Farrell flee with two years to go on his contract? Only for very good compensation. The Blue Jays, who went 81-81 in Farrell’s first season (which included several days away from the team because of illness), are in a rebuilding mode, and right now it’s more important for them to get players than to keep their manager.

Farrell signed a three-year deal with Toronto last Oct. 25, but the Sox surely would rip up that deal and give him a significant bump in salary.

“The one thing I was never exposed to was the responsibility of 25 players,’’ Farrell told reporters at the end of the season. “In the past, it’s been 40 percent of a roster with the pitching staff.

“Managing the clubhouse, being in tune with what’s going on with an individual player - whether it’s mentally, physically, or fundamentally - there’s a lot of time spent, a lot of maintenance in those areas, to be abreast of each guy in the clubhouse.’’

There is an endless number of candidates the Blue Jays could hire to replace Farrell, including current bench coach Don Wakamatsu and third base coach Brian Butterfield. The presence of the manager doesn’t have quite the impact in Toronto that it does in Boston.

Think about it. Farrell is familiar with Boston’s team and has some clout with the pitching staff. He is also the new-wave type of manager - heavily into numbers and sabermetrics - that falls in line with the team philosophy.

The Sox recently dismissed first base coach Ron Johnson and coaching assistant Rob Leary. Curt Young, who replaced Farrell as pitching coach, has taken a job in Oakland. Dave Magadan (hitting), Tim Bogar (third base), and Hale (bench) remain in place for now. They are three coaches Farrell has worked with.

Farrell was a strong influence on Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and a key in their development into top-tier pitchers.

The transition back to Boston would be seamless. Question is, would it ever happen?

In the end, would the Blue Jays let their manager go back to the Red Sox, a team within their division?

And what would be the price for something like that?


Sox' drinking habits lead Oil Can to pop off

Who better to address the issue of beer drinking in the clubhouse than Dennis “Oil Can’’ Boyd?

“I was a drug addict and an alcoholic,’’ Boyd said, “and I never once thought about drinking a beer during a game. Never even thought of it. If I’d have done that, I would have had Yaz or Jim Rice slap me in the head. It’s amazing to me. I never even heard of that.

“This is a different breed of player now. They’re so spoiled and feel so entitled. I did everything you can possibly imagine outside the ballpark, but once I got to the ballpark, my mind was completely on baseball.

“That was my living and I never took it for granted. I never wanted to jeopardize what being a major league ballplayer was and how lucky I was to be there.

“Having a beer during the game? Having a beer in the dugout? How do think you can do that? How does that even cross your mind? How is someone sipping on beer and another player is walking by and that player doesn’t say anything?’’

Asked if he ever consumed alcohol at a ballpark under any circumstances, Boyd said, “When I was in the minor leagues, we were playing in cold, cold weather and I once got the clubhouse kid to go get me some Wild Turkey before a game so I could put it in my coffee to keep warm.

“But at the major league level? Never. You have to have some respect for the game. We always had beer in the clubhouse, but you never drank it until the game was over.

“Did I drink beer before I got to the ballpark? Sure did. Many times. I’d have lunch, have a couple, and come to the park in the afternoon.

“But while I had my uniform on, and I was supposed to be watching the baseball game? No way. I’m telling you, these guys are different. It was surprising to hear that stuff.’’

Boyd’s life spiraled out of control on many levels, and an upcoming book on him with former Herald writer Mike Shalin will knock your socks off. If what these Red Sox pitchers did shocked Boyd - a guy named “Oil Can’’ because he drank a lot of beer - then that’s pretty telling.


Peterson could be just what Sox staff needs

We’ve written plenty about the Red Sox needing a strong-fisted manager like Bobby Valentine, but there also needs to be a pitching coach with presence who can maximize performance.

Would they consider Rick Peterson?

Peterson, whose detractors consider him a quirky thinker with a Moneyball mentality, might have been Boston’s pitching coach in 2002 had Billy Beane become the general manager.

He had a nice run with a young staff in Oakland (1998-2003), producing impressive talent such as Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Tim Hudson, all of whom became 20-game winners.

Peterson offers a complete program for pitchers and is an expert in biomechanics. He is considered one of the best “fixers’’ of poor mechanics in the game. He also brings an extensive conditioning and sports psychology component.

“There’s no doubt he helped my career,’’ said Mulder, now an ESPN analyst. “He gave you what you needed and wanted as a pitcher.

“For me, it was more traditional stuff like going over scouting reports, going over hitter by hitter and deciding how to pitch each guy.

“He just knows so much about the pitching motion and the proper mechanics. He’s tremendous at being able to look at your delivery and spot a difficult spot.’’

Peterson was a minor league pitching coach in the Red Sox organization at Double A Trenton in 1997. As Mets pitching coach (2004-08), he was around Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine, and got John Maine and Oliver Perez to win 15 games. Then he worked a season for Milwaukee and introduced John Axford as the Brewers closer.

“He was the perfect guy for me at the stage of my career when I got to the Mets,’’ said Glavine. “He was tremendous with me in terms of dealing with the advent of QuesTech and he worked with me on learning to pitch east-west and north-south.

“He’s a deep thinker. Nobody will ever outwork him. I can’t tell you how much time he spends breaking down hitters on video, formulating game plans, and getting his catchers so prepared to call a good game for the pitcher that night.’’


Apropos of nothing

1. Had room No. 1908 at my Chicago hotel last week; 2. Red Sox have won the Roberto Clemente Award two straight years (Tim Wakefield and David Ortiz). Maybe they are nice guys; 3. Theo Epstein will have a lousy office at old Wrigley; 4. John Lackey needs an image reboot more than he needs Tommy John surgery; 5. Have you ever seen so many executives let out of their contracts in one offseason?

Updates on nine

1. Bud Black, manager, Padres - Since the Padres seem to be letting everyone out of their contracts (a sign of potential ownership problems?), why not him? Black would be a good choice as Red Sox manager, a guy who could straighten out the pitching staff. He got the most out of John Lackey as pitching coach for the Angels. Black has become a very good manager. He is smart, well-prepared, and surrounds himself with good coaches. He has defied the axiom that pitching coaches don’t make good managers.

2. Wayne Krivsky, former Reds general manager - He was recently let out of his Mets contract as special assistant to the GM and is now a free agent. Krivsky has been an asset to every organization he’s ever worked for and is a seasoned contract negotiator and organization builder.

3. Terry Francona, former Red Sox manager - Well-respected in the game, Francona probably needs to sit out a half-year before getting back in the race sometime next season. In the meantime, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he took on a job as a special assistant, much like Lou Piniella did with the Giants. “I think he’ll have an endless number of opportunities for that,’’ said an American League GM. “He’s a good evaluator of players. He could really help any organization.’’

4. Joe Maddon, manager, Rays - Asked his view on players drinking during games, Maddon said, “I am into adults having an adult beverage after a sweaty day at the office. That includes managers who sweat predominantly internally.’’ Maddon has an extensive wine collection in his office but he only partakes at the proper time.

5. DeMarlo Hale, Red Sox bench coach - He has a year remaining on his contract, and when the dust settles on personnel decisions, he will meet with new GM Ben Cherington to determine his fate. Hale hopes to interview for the Sox managerial job. He also could be a candidate in Chicago, his hometown, under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. The Washington job is likely out, with Davey Johnson expected to return, but there may be an interview process, and Hale will likely be a candidate given the strong backing he’ll receive from Nationals special adviser Bob Schaefer.

6. Dale Sveum, hitting coach, Brewers - Don’t be shocked if he emerges as a top candidate for the Boston job. Sveum was with the Sox as a third base coach, and lives and breathes the game. In a column earlier this year when I listed the most passionate people in the game, Sveum was on the list. While some fans in Boston got on him for getting runners thrown out at the plate, waving runners around was the least of many duties he performed so well during his tenure in Boston.

7. Roy Oswalt, RHP, Phillies - He could become available in free agency. Oswalt is due $16 million on a mutual option and it appears that the Phillies will either buy him out ($2 million) or try to negotiate a lesser deal. If he becomes a free agent, as one major league talent evaluator said, “Given his breakdowns, but the fact that he’s such a gamer, if you can get him for two years it would be a tremendous sign for your team. This guy really competes and he can still be damned good. But not for $16 million.’’

8. Jimmy Rollins, shortstop, free agent - He will have to back off from a five-year deal for the Phillies to seriously consider re-signing him. They probably won’t be interested in free agent Jose Reyes, given how much money it might take. If not Rollins, the Phillies may find a cheaper stopgap (possibly Marco Scutaro if the Red Sox don’t pick up his option).

9. Yu Darvish, RHP, Japanese league - He will be the next big signing out of Japan, and it appears that the Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, and Mariners will be among the bidders. Two sources familiar with Japanese baseball think the posting fee for Darvish will be nowhere near the $51 million the Sox put up for Daisuke Matsuzaka. “I think we may never see something that high again,’’ said one source. “But one could expect a posting fee in the high $20 millions.’’ Another source said, “He’s going to be a legitimate No. 3 starter because he has the rare combination of being a hard thrower with command. The command is the big thing with Japanese pitchers, and I think that’s what separates him from someone like Daisuke Matsuzaka.’’

Short hops

From the Bill Chuck files: “Tim Wakefield has hit 186 batters, Jamey Wright 142, and Vicente Padilla 106. Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, renowned for owning the inside part of the plate, only hit 102 batters in his career.’’ Also, “From 2006-08, Paul Konerko hit .273 with 88 homers and 265 RBIs. From 2009-11, Konerko hit .296 with 98 homers and 304 RBIs.’’ Happy birthday to Felix Doubront (24), John Lackey (33), and David Riske (35).

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