Blue Jays' managerial spot even more enticing
Potential blockbuster makes Toronto a preferred destination for candidates
TORONTO -- In the light of day, the Blue Jays' seemingly meandering search for a new manager suddenly makes a lot more sense.
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos had come under fire in recent days for still not having a replacement for John Farrell, who was traded to Boston in a surprise move more than three weeks ago.
There won't be any criticism about not having a manager now, though. Not after the Blue Jays reportedly have pulled the trigger on a 12-player deal that will see the likes of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle headed to Toronto in arguably the biggest trade in franchise history. The trade is still not official and neither team has commented on it.
The search for a new manager is still ongoing, but in one fell swoop, the position suddenly became a lot more interesting for potential candidates. Toronto no longer will find itself having to entice a manager to sign on the dotted line. Instead, it will be the organization that has to be wooed into making the commitment.
Toronto didn't officially begin its search for a new manager until Farrell was dealt to the Red Sox on Oct. 21. At the time, there appeared to be a small collection of rookie candidates for the job, including the likes of Sandy Alomar Jr. and DeMarlo Hale.
Their inclusion on the list of potential managers made perfect sense. Both had been runner-ups to Farrell in 2010, and when combined with other candidates who weren't available to be interviewed back then -- Tim Wallach and Matt Williams -- there was the makings of a solid group to choose from.
But as the days turned into weeks without a new manager, speculation began to run rampant and clues to the Blue Jays' real plan began to unfold. Instead of looking for a fresh face, Anthopoulos started talking openly for the first time about the benefits of finding a manager who had previous experience.
The reasons behind the potential change in philosophy were obvious. A seasoned veteran in the dugout would come with fewer questions. The organization would already have a feel for how he can control a clubhouse and successfully manage a bullpen. There also was the added benefit of learning from past mistakes and correcting them once given a second chance.
"You can find out tangible things from coaches they worked with, players they managed," Anthopoulos told MLB.com last week. "You take out a lot of the guess work involved, and they're much more of a known quantity, the guys who have done it before, and there's definitely a comfort in that."
In the days that followed, Anthopoulos' assessment even more clues began to surface. A report on Foxsports.com revealed that Toronto had reached out to veteran managers Mike Hargrove and Bobby Cox, while others such as Manny Acta and Don Wakamatsu also appeared to still be in the mix.
There was no indication that Hargrove or Cox expressed any interest in the job, but it showed that Toronto was aiming high. Cox, 71, retired at the end of the 2010 season, while Hargrove hasn't managed since 2007 in Seattle. Both might be long shots for the position, but if there was any pause for consideration, it only grew on Tuesday night.
In one reported trade, the Blue Jays have fulfilled their offseason goal of acquiring two starting pitchers to complement a group that already includes Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero and J.A. Happ. The club's biggest weakness all of a sudden becomes ones of its biggest strengths.
Along the way, Toronto also filled a void at the top of its lineup by bringing Reyes north of the border. Reyes, with his speed and ability to get on base, is exactly the type of skill set the Blue Jays needed to put in front of sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
Names on paper don't always equate to success on the field, and there's no guarantee this blockbuster trade will ultimately work out for Toronto. But with the type of talent currently on the 25-man roster, Anthopoulos' search for Farrell's replacement just got a whole lot easier.
"Probably just need to follow up, get a little more in-depth is what's left in that process right now," Anthopoulos told reporters during last week's GM Meetings in California. "Whether you want to call it second round, final round, home stretch, however you want to characterize it."
But perhaps now the list of candidates will grow even larger. If it does, Anthopoulos might not be the one initiating the phone calls. Toronto's now a preferred destination.