We haven’t reached the post-season yet. But people are already talking about Alex Anthopoulos getting a contract extension even though the Blue Jays have not won the World Series. In that sense, why not give the same recognition to manager John Gibbons?
Gibbons has outmanaged the likes of Buck Showalter, John Farrell, and Joe Girardi this season, the latter two managing World Series winning teams. But there has been calls from fans and media that Gibbons should be fired. Like I said, the playoffs have not begun yet but if you want to talk about whether Gibbons should be dismissed, I’ll talk about why he should stay. Gibbons for years has had good teams only to lose some of their key players to injuries. This season Gibbons finally has personnel that can a) perform well and b) stay healthy. Aside from Troy Tulowitzki, there have been no serious injuries and Gibbons has been able to write up the same line up each and every day. Gibbons also has been able to give the guys in the bullpen definitive roles. Roberto Osuna is the closer, Aaron Sanchez and Mark Lowe are the set up men, LaTroy Hawkins is the bridge between those three and the starter, and Brett Cecil comes out to get lefties. In addition, Gibbons has been able to deal with the number of egos in the clubhouse.
This story could easily be called It’s About Time Cito Gaston Gets His Due. That’s because 23 years ago Gaston went through what Gibbons is going through now. You are the manager of a team that is expected to win the World Series. Gaston’s Blue Jays knocked off an Oakland Athletics team managed by Hall of Famer Tony LaRussa in the 1992 American League Championship Series. Gaston later beat out his former mentor Bobby Cox as the Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves for the World Series. Gaston was able to repeat that feat the following season but there were those in the media that wanted to see Gaston fired. Yes, the same ones that scream outrage about blacks not getting any respect.
Even with the Blue Jays already securing a playoff spot and are close to clinching the American League East, people will scrape the bottom of the barrel to convince you and I that Gibbons should be replaced as manager. They will point out that the New Jersey Devils fired Rob Ftorek, replaced him with Larry Robinson prior to the end of the NHL season, and the team went on win the Stanley Cup that year. But I would argue there were factors that led to that firing other than wins and losses.
No matter what happens to the Blue Jays this post-season, Gibbons should get his due whether it is a contract extension or a promotion to the front office. He has taken the heat for the tough times over the last few seasons, it’s about time everyone give him kudos for putting the Blue Jays ahead.