Blue Jays One Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

By TSM

Well, this is interesting isn’t it.

Either the hall of fame writer has hit the jackpot of baseball scoops or it’s a sad error that hopefully won’t blur an otherwise stellar career.

Bob Elliott who’s been throwing as many names on the Toronto Blue Jays managerial board as anyone has arrived at a conclusion, that’s not sitting well right now.

John Gibbons to be named as Blue Jays manager tomorrow.

Yuck.

As much as I respect Elliott, I really hope he’s wrong this time.

Nothing against Gibbons personally, I don’t know him personally, but it’s hard to belive that the answer to the Blue Jays managerial question is a guy who failed to get another MLB managerial job since being fired in Toronto.

Yeah, yeah, yeah Neither did Cito.

When Cito was re-hired, he had credibility.

Cito had won, not 1 but two times.

This guy hasn’t won anything. He failed before.

He wasn’t even in the major leagues last year.

Perhaps I am alone on this, but this is an instant pop in the balloon of excitement I had been feeling about the upcoming season.

An unimaginative hire by the Jays. A minor league move.

I can’t believe there wasn’t anyone better out there.

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Capn2patch
November 20, 2012 2:47 am

I can’t help but wonder how the players will view this. Especially the new ones.

Next time, AA can’t hire a Manager on his own.

Capn2patch
November 20, 2012 2:47 am

great clip btw

Brian Gerstein
November 20, 2012 2:52 am

I’m just glad that Elliott broke a major Blue Jays story for the first time in memory and it didn’t emanate from the States. I do think that it is hilarious that the only reason why Elliott was likely able to break the story was because he was likely tipped off that Alex and Gibby were having dinner in Yorkville Sunday night. With Alex so secretive over his moves until they are done, I am quite shocked that he would be seen in the public eye like that. Regardless, credit to Elliott for running with it and digging until he got the confirmations he needed in order to run with it. In Bob’s article he states that Gibby will be introduced as the next Blue Jay’s manager Tuesday morning, so I can’t imagine it not being true given that, so again, kudos to Bob on some great detective work.

Daniel
Daniel
November 20, 2012 4:58 am

Torre or Cox would have been cool, but Gibby was an excellent tactical manager. Was fantastic at using the bullpen, used a lot of platoons in the lineup. I like the move a lot.

You’re nuts if this manager hire takes the air out of your balloon. Managers really don’t matter that much in baseball.

Itchy Butt
Itchy Butt
November 20, 2012 5:32 am

Failed is a harsh term, especially coming from a Leafs blowhard like you. Talk about failed……

Any road…..Gibbons was a damn good manager with a less talented team than the one they have now. He also had some divas to deal with, and had the shittiest upper management team the Jays ever had.

I’m looking forward to Lawrie finally being reigned in. I love the guy’s playing but his high school antics need to be toned down.

The other guys that have been mentioned the last few weeks have MUCH worse records than Gibbons.

Lee ((Oakville)
Lee ((Oakville)
November 20, 2012 7:09 am

I guess Carlos Tosca wasn’t available.

Craig
Craig
November 20, 2012 7:38 am

After hearing this news, I had the same reaction: nausea.

Make no mistake, if the Blue Jays find success in the next season it will be in spite of John Gibbons, not because of him.

Have we all lost our memories? The only remarkable thing about this man’s career is

that he somehow managed to stay manager of the Jays for 5 seasons.

1. Tactically, Gibbons has never evolved past the steroid era and hasn’t shown an ability to adapt. When he was with the Jays, he was personally responsible for the team’s offensive stagnation. Let’s recall his entire strategy: a) Never swing at a first pitch, try to work the count and get a walk. b) Stand on your base until someone hits a home run.

(If you still have a hard time remembering, recall that when Cito replaced Gibbons and ditched his “steroid strategy”, the offense came to life. To say that it was a “dramatic turnaround” is an understatement.)

Unless Gibbons has gone back to school since his time with the Blue Jays, I have little faith in his ability as a tactical manager. I fear that all the speed that the Blue Jays
have stockpiled will go to waste with a manager who has shown an aversion ever calling a steal or a hit-and-run.

2. John Gibbons cannot manage a clubhouse because he does not demand the respect of the players. His combative personality has historically driven players from the organization. And yes, I place most of the blame for the Shea Hillenbrand incident on Hillenbrand, but I argue that it would not have happened with a better manager at the helm. Hillenbrand was a symptom of a clubhouse that had no respect for its manager and the vision he had for the team.

The Ted Lily “episode” was an absolute embarrassment for the franchise. Any respect that I had for the man went out the window when Gibbons “physically confronted” Lily. A manager should be the steady rock of the franchise and be beyond that sort of immature behavior.

I am very doubtful that things will be different this time around. It’s in the man’s nature, and I don’t think that his personality could have changed that much since. In saying that, as long as the team wins, Gibbons will be fine. However, be prepared for all hell to break loose if the season starts to head south.

The only hope that I cling to is if AA hired him because he thinks that Gibbons is “just a guy” who can be used as his personal managerial puppet. In my opinion, the less of an influence that Gibbons has on the club, the better.

To say that I am still pissed off at Gibbons for the disaster he was responsible for is completely accurate. But, what makes me even angrier is the fact that he has the nerve to come back to the scene of the crime for seconds. At the press conference to announce his hiring, I require that Gibbons first apologize to the fans and the franchise for the mistakes of his past. That is all.

Sam in Scarb
Sam in Scarb
November 20, 2012 7:55 am

Again MSM “experts” did not have a clue about this hiring. Add to that the 12 YES twelve player deal last week and the MC signing that NOT 1 MSM EXPERTS had any idea of…Just love all the experts that Pretend to know everything BUT the fact is they know ” /;,. ALL” !!

Matthew Craggs
Matthew Craggs
November 20, 2012 8:58 am
Reply to  Craig

1. He was good with the way he used his bullpen, used platoons, and was willing to adjust the lineup when it wasn’t working, I’d say he has demonstrated he was more than willing to adapt. Not willing to adapt is “I’m going to have Vernon Wells hit 3rd no matter what because I liked having the same lineup spot when I played.”

2. His teams were more likely to take a walk, yes, but how is that a bad? That’s what good teams do. They make their opponents pitch to them, wear down the other teams arms, and know that it doesn’t matter how you get on base as long as you avoid outs. The grip it and rip it thing only works for so long, until the opposition learns to pitch around you and you start whiffing on breaking balls low and away (see: Adam Lind).

3. Yes, the running game was pretty nonexistent, but there is a ton of speed on this team that wasn’t there during the Gibbons era. Maybe that will change. What I do know is that the 2011 and 2012 Blue Jays have demonstrated that they have the speed, but not the brains to run the bases properly.

4. The Hillenbrand and Lilly incidents were nothing more than two isolated incidents of divas throwing temper tantrums. Hillenbrand was upset he was getting time at DH when Troy Glaus was at third and Overbay was at first. Troy Glaus is a diva too, but a better player, and Overbay was much better defensively at first. Gibbons put the best lineup and Hillenbrand acted like a two year old. I appreciate that in a manager. As for Lilly, he had a 8-0 game and gave up 7 runs in what? The 3rd inning? I want a manager that will take a pitcher out in that situation. If you are a pitcher that throws a hissy fit for being pulled after giving up 7 runs, you need a thicker skin.

At first I was a bit “WTF?” about this signing, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. With all of the reports about the team feeling entitled and no-one being held accountable, he seems like a guy that will make the team accountable. Add that to his willingness to tweek the things (i.e. the lineup and bullpen) that aren’t working, this move just makes too much sense to me.

Craig
Craig
November 20, 2012 10:27 am
Reply to  Matthew Craggs

You make a number of good points. Thanks for your intelligent reply. I’ll give you #1 and I hope you’re right about #3.

Addressing #2: I agree with you that working the count and getting walks isn’t an inherently bad strategy (See the success of Yankees & Red Sox). My observation of Gibbons’ philosophy is that at times (especially near the end of his tenure) it appeared to be too strictly enforced. It looked like his strategy was implemented across the board and was not accommodating to some of the players who naturally thrive on first pitches. I agree that guys like Arencibia/Lawrie need to learn plate discipline, just as long as Lawrie’s still allowed to swing at a first pitch every once in awhile because that’s what he does best.

Addressing #4: You might be right that they were isolated incidents and I don’t disagree with any of the actual decisions that Gibbons made. What irks me (from what I’ve heard reported) is that Gibbons was the one who initiated physical contact with Lily. In my opinion, that is completely unprofessional and unacceptable conduct for a major league manager. One of the most important things I think the Jays need in a manager is someone who has the ability to unify and rally the team. If they were just isolated incidents then maybe you’re right, but Gibbons’ history of butting heads with individual players does not exemplify this skill. I was also hoping that the next manager would be bilingual, but maybe that’s not such a big deal?

Nan Young Lee
Nan Young Lee
November 20, 2012 12:09 pm

So Brian Burke is ‘Burkey’, and John Gibbons is ‘Gibby’. Nice to see we have an objective sports media in Toronto. It’s times like this that Damian Cox’s contrarian, hard intelligence is refreshing(see his twitter account).

Meanwhile Jeff Blair seem to be channelling this guy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPG3VDMfMes

Carl
November 20, 2012 1:55 pm
Reply to  Sam in Scarb

Very true. All the Blue Jays insiders work for Fox i.e. Rosenthal, Morosi. The Sportsnet clowns can’t even get scoops on the team owned by the same company that owns them.

Slick Rick
Slick Rick
November 20, 2012 1:58 pm

God Love Elliott! “hopefully won’t blur an otherwise stellar career.” haha

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 3:44 pm
Reply to  Carl

Bob Elliott broke this story, not Rosenthal or Morosi. The reason those two broke the Marlins story is most likely because the leak came from the Marlins end, not the Jays end, so the US media would have heard about it first, not the Toronto media.

I don’t have any special love for Toronto baseball media over US national baseball media (or vice versa), but I think we should at least be fair to them on this.

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 3:46 pm
Reply to  Itchy Butt

I didn’t really start following baseball until 2009, so I really don’t know how Gibbons did. I think he might suffer from managing during the JP years and being one of JP’s guys. The general memory fans seem to have of those years is they were all terrible because we didn’t make the playoffs and JP was lying his pants off, and I think Gibbons suffers from the general feeling of the era rather than specific things he did.

Like you, I wondered yesterday if this move was in part directed at Lawrie and giving him a firm hand he might respect to teach him to be a more mature ballplayer.

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 3:48 pm

Cathal Kelley makes a pretty strong argument for Gibbons. Since I didn’t really watch baseball back then, and obviously, I was never in the clubhouse as a player or as a media person, I have no idea if what Kelley says is the rule or an exception, but taking his article in a vacuum, I think he made a good case.

http://www.thestar.com/sports/baseball/mlb/article/1290388–blue-jays-hire-john-gibbons-this-move-is-the-one-that-gives-me-the-most-hope-kelly

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 3:50 pm
Reply to  Craig

Was the “work the count, take walks, wait for the big hit” moneyball approach Gibbons’ idea, or Ricciardi’s?

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 3:51 pm
Reply to  Brian Gerstein

The story broke at like 2am too, which is pretty late, and shows Elliott’s dedication.

Carl
November 20, 2012 3:51 pm
Reply to  Ami_Angelwings

Fair enough but can you name one story that the vaunted Sportsnet baseball insiders have ever broken? I’m just saying that if you’re going to market yourself as an insider, be one. Rosenthal routinely breaks Jays news dating back to the Ricciardi days.

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 3:53 pm
Reply to  Capn2patch

According to Anthopolous, he hired Farrell because he had too many voices in his ear and he didn’t make the decision he wanted to. So, wanting him to hire a manager not on his own hasn’t shown evidence of working either.

Derrick
Derrick
November 20, 2012 4:11 pm
Reply to  Carl

Who cares who breaks the story “first”? If the story ultimately breaks why does it matter that who breaks it? It’s the analysis that is the most important.

Derrick
Derrick
November 20, 2012 4:15 pm
Reply to  Ami_Angelwings

It was the hitting coaches idea, Gary Denbo. He didn’t last long and was fired the same season as Gibbon’s in his first tenure as manager, but before he was let go.

Torontosportsmedia
Torontosportsmedia
November 20, 2012 4:30 pm
Reply to  Ami_Angelwings

The argument is he likes him and he is a good guy.

Torontosportsmedia
Torontosportsmedia
November 20, 2012 4:31 pm
Reply to  Derrick

It’s not a one time thing. It’s an overall trend. Jays news breaks elsewhere.

Mike V
Mike V
November 20, 2012 4:34 pm
Reply to  Craig

Cito was a “dramatic turnaround”, am I reading this right?
Lind repeatedly being in the batting order against a lefty even though he had an OPS under .400 and Vernon Wells batting cleanup all season. No thank you.

Derrick
Derrick
November 20, 2012 4:47 pm

And what is your point? Other teams leak news to the media, the Blue Jays don’t. That’s hardly new or newsworthy. I don’t get the need to be “first” to break news, as though that proves what a great journalist one is.
Long form articles which provide a thoughtful analysis of issues (such as the actions of the local team on the trade front) are much more interesting and useful to read than the 3 sentence article providing data.
There are numerous websites dedicated to this type of journalism (Grantland) which are enjoying great success.
In theory this website is built on providing those types of articles.

Derrick
Derrick
November 20, 2012 5:10 pm

I disagree. The primary argument is that AA hired a friend – AA is taking a bigger risk with this hire than with the trade or the Melky signing. Hiring an outsider would’ve been easier and safer for him, but he is bringing on someone he knows and trusts, and someone he can communicate with, and has therefore “gone all-in”. So this hiring, in the eyes of Kelly, proves AA is swinging for the fences. And good for AA! It’s his job, hire someone you can work with, live and die based on your decisions.

I have read almost no negative opinions of this move by either the MSM or bloggers who cover the team. Even Cox didn’t completely dismiss it in is blog – he just doesn’t like the chummy atmosphere of the press conference or how he feels AA seems to be in a constant honeymoon phase with the press.

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 5:33 pm

Well, the argument is that he likes him because of evidence provided. Whether that’s true, or an accurate sample or not, Cathal did provide anecdotes and reasoning as to why he likes Farrell. It’s not simply “I like the guy because I do.”

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 6:12 pm
Reply to  Derrick

Oh right, I remember him. The hitting “guru”.

Kamlesh
Kamlesh
November 20, 2012 8:00 pm
Reply to  Ami_Angelwings

Brilliantly crafted article by Cathal Kelley, wonderfully written last 2 sentences, a perfect ending. Last week Bruce Arthur referenced Samuel Beckett’s Godot, now we get the Kelley reaching into Luke for an article on Gibbons. We’re lucky with the quality of sports writing in T.O.

I should have linked to this Kelley article from a couple weeks ago. I had written here blaming Tom Anselmi for the woes of TorontoFC, but I was wrong. Kelley lays out the facts in this well researched piece.

http://www.thestar.com/printarticle/1278643

Ami_Angelwings
Ami_Angelwings
November 20, 2012 11:54 pm

This might be one of the few Jays/baseball related things that Mike Wilner and Bob McCown are on the same page about (I won’t say “exact same page” because they like Gibbons for different reasons, but both of them like him). Blair absolutely adores the move too.

I think it’s going to take the baseball media a little while to get used to saying “Gibbons” after “John” though. Blair kept calling him John Farrell today.

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