Cafardo On Blue Jays, Valentine, Smoak, Francona

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at this season's Executive of the Year candidates.  Orioles Executive Vice President Dan Duquette returned from baseball after a ten-year absence to turn the club around and help give them the biggest improvement in all of baseball.  In Oakland, A's GM Billy Beane has put the team in position to win with an exciting club powered by strong pitching.  In the National League, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo has made a strong case for the award as well for taking the 80-win Nats of 2011 and turning them into division champs.  A's outfielder Josh Reddick doesn't get a vote, but he believes that the title should go to Beane.  “He’s the best GM in baseball,” said Reddick. “And he has been for a long time. He gives people the opportunity to have their talents come out. The environment he creates is amazing.”  Here's more from today's column..

  • The prevailing thought is that the Blue Jays will demand a good player from the Red Sox in exchange for John Farrell, but those around Toronto believe it would be easier to get him now than it was last year.  Farrell is no longer viewed as the key to the Blue Jays' future, but he would be a strong pickup for the Red Sox who like his familiarity with the club.
  • If the Red Sox let Bobby Valentine go, his managerial career isn't necessarily finished.  Marlins Jeffrey Loria nearly hired him before he opted to go with Ozzie Guillen to ring in the club's new ballpark.  Bobby V could also be an option for the Reds where he is close with owner Bob Castellini and manager Dusty Baker is at the end of his deal.
  • Justin Smoak struggled for the bulk of the season but has come on recently thanks to a change in his swing mechanics.  Now, Cafardo writes, he's making it tough for the Mariners to decide if they want to keep him for the long haul or move him.
  • If Terry Francona does wind up taking the Indians job, Cafardo believes that he would be frustrated after a while given their limited resources.  The Tribe also lacks the ability to give Francona the big-time money that he could net from another team.
  • Cafardo was surprised by the Astros' hiring of Bo Porter over Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, given their desire to model themselves after Tampa Bay.