Friday, September 28, 2012
More brushfires for John Farrell
By Gordon Edes
BALTIMORE -- Bobby Valentine isn't the only manager who might want this season to end as quickly as possible.
John Farrell, the man widely considered to be the favorite to replace Valentine if the Red Sox make a change, keeps having to deal with brushfires in Toronto. Brushfires? If they were happening in Boston, they would probably be termed raging infernos.
First, the Blue Jays were embarrassed by the actions of shortstop Yunel Escobar, who was suspended for three games after taking the field with eyeblack that spelled out a homophobic slur in Spanish. No way that reflects well on the manager.
Omar Vizquel offered a harsh critique of the Blue Jays' clubhouse, but later apologized.
Then there was this week, when 45-year-old shortstop Omar Vizquel, nearing the end of a splendid career, took some shots at the Jays' clubhouse culture that could be construed as an indictment of Farrell.
According to Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons, Vizquel said the team allowed its young players to repeatedly make the same mistakes without being held accountable.
"It's part of the inexperience," Vizquel said. "If you make mistakes and nobody says anything about it -- they just let it go -- we're going to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. We have to stand up and say something right after that mistake happened. We have to talk about it at meetings. We have to address it in a big way in the clubhouse.
"Sometimes you have to punish players because they're making the same mistakes over and over again."
Vizquel never criticized Farrell by name, and cited the team's need for more veteran leadership. But he did admonish the staff.
"I think the coaching staff has a big responsibility to kind of get in there and tie things up a little, have a bit more communication with their players and try to make this thing happen the right way," he said.
"Look, I think a lot of mistakes were let go because it's young guys. You expect mistakes from young guys. It needs to be talked about. It shouldn't just be let go and say, 'Ah, we have another day.' You have to get on it. You have to say, 'I didn't like that play' and let's try and do something different. You have to talk it over and over again and how do you call it, be on top of that."
Farrell did not let Vizquel's remarks go unchallenged. The club held a closed-door meeting Friday, in which Vizquel apologized for his remarks.
Former Blue Jay Gregg Zaun, now a TV analyst, also took a shot recently at the Jays' ways.
"The atmosphere in this clubhouse and in this organization is consequence-free," Zaun said.
Farrell took exception to that notion this week in Baltimore. "Consequences do exist and yet we prefer to keep those in-house," he said.
Farrell said he is "a firm believer that players should have freedom to be themselves within a team environment. By no means should this be misconstrued or confused with, 'It's all about a bunch of individuals.'
"This is a team that guys have the ability to be themselves within the team concept. Once that gets to the point of being a detriment to the team environment, then it's addressed. We outline clearly the expectations that we have as far as professionalism, team play, how we're trying to execute as a team. But to stuff guys in a box and ask them to conform or to be something other than themselves, then I think it's taking away from their natural abilities."
Having to defend himself against such charges, of course, is hardly the ideal way for Farrell to impress a prospective new employer -- not to mention his current bosses.