I don't care how the Toronto Blue Jays replace manager John Farrell, just don't have anything to do with anyone who ever worked or played for Boston. This is my own little curse of the Red Sox.
When I was growing up, I was an avid follower of the old Maple Leafs of the International League. In 1966, the Leafs won the Governors' Cup Championship. The following season, manager Dick Williams moved up to the parent Red Sox and guided them to the World Series in the 'Miracle' season. In 1968, the Red Sox moved their affiliate to Louisville, Kentucky and Toronto was without pro ball until the Blue Jays returned in 1977. Granted, the Leafs attendance was horrible, but try explaining that to a kid who loved baseball in this town.
Fast forward to 1985, Bobby Cox leads the Blue Jays to their first division title and American League Championship. After that gut-wrenching seven-game loss to the K.C. Royals, Cox announced that, for family reasons, he wanted to move back to Atlanta, where he took the job as the Braves general manager before utlimately becoming a manager again and leading the Braves to an incredible run of post-season appearances. What does this have to do with Boston? Well, the Braves originally played in 'Beantown'.
Even the good goes bad when you deal with Boston. In 1997, the Blue Jays signed Roger Clemens as a free agent after the Red Sox had essentially given up on him. 'The Rocket Man' won back-to-back Cy Young awards and was heralded as the best pitcher in baseball.
On the final week of the 1997 season, the Jays fired skipper Cito Gaston and Clemens' relationship with Gaston reportedly played into the manager's dismisal. There was even talk Clemens was openly campaigning for Tim Johnson, a former coach of his in Boston, to come to Toronto.
Lo and behold, Johnson became the new manager after what was described by the Jays as an 'exhaustive search'. Johnson jokingly described himself as a 'dirtbag', a utlity player who would get down and dirty and do whatever it took to win.
Johnson had a successful season by Jays' recent standards with 88 victories, their high-water mark since the second World Series victory in 1993. But by the end of that season, many of Johnson's players and staff were calling him 'dirtbag' for an entirely different reason, after all the tales he spun about serving in Vietnam which proved to be false. That wasn't the end of it, though. Clemens then asked for a trade out of town. In the spring of 1999, Johnson was fired and Clemens was dealt to the Yankees.
After the Terry Francona firing a year ago, the Red Sox tried to pry Farrell loose but the Jays and BoSox couldn't agree on compensation with Jays general manager Alex Anthopolous later saying the club had a policy blocking all staff from making lateral moves to other organizations.
Now a year later, Farrell is gone. How good a manager he could have been in Toronto or will be in Boston we don't know and won't know until he straps it on with the Red Sox next spring. Perception, though, is everything and it looks as though the 'Big Bad Red Sox' bullied the Jays into getting their man. The Jays are made to look 'small time' and it creates a situation where next spring, they will have their sixth manager in 13 years.
Getting Mike Aviles as compensation may fill a hole at second base (with Kelly Johnson a free agent) or at short if Yunel Escobar is traded. Aviles might even end up being a utilty replacement for Omar Vizquel but getting him doesn't even halfway make up for the havoc the Red Sox caused over the last year.
The last two times the Blue Jays did an 'exhaustive search' for a manager, they came up with Johnson and Farrell. This time, I think they'll stick to a simple plan and have the new manager in place in a week to two weeks.
Sandy Alomar Jr. would be the logical pick, and just to stick it to Boston, I would go after free agent David Ortiz and at the very least force Boston to overpay to keep him.
As we mentioned last time, Boston's first visit to Rogers Centre is Friday, April 5th and it should be quite the party. Maybe I'll spring for the beer and chicken. Curse of the Red Sox, indeed.
The Yankees must be sweating bullets. Derek Jeter is down four-to-five months with a fractured ankle, they're on the hook for Alex Rodriguez for another five years and $114 million and now C.C Sabathia is getting his left elbow checked out by Dr. James Andrews in the next week or so. That's a horrible trifecta for any sports organization, let alone the Yankees.
A long-time member of the baseball beat, Scott Ferguson covers the Blue Jays for TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto. His baseball blog appears on TSN.ca during the season.