Source: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Patrick Semansky
John Gibbons managed his final game in Toronto after spending five seasons with the Blue Jays in his second stint as manager for the club. In the five seasons, Gibbons led the Jays the playoffs twice, both ending short of a world series appearance bowing out in the ALDS. With him out of Toronto, the Jays will look into hiring the 16th manager in the team's history. John Gibbons in his first stint with the Jays never sniffed a postseason appearance and only once under his tenure they finished above 3rd place in the standings. With the lack of production and the questionable ways of how he dealt with issues in the locker room eventually led to Gibbons being kicked to the curb during the 2008 season.
With John Gibbons out I can't be but happy for the Jays. Let's face it Gibby’s time in Toronto was long gone and him staying longer would of hurt the team and their development. To me, I look at Gibbons as a manager that just got a second chance here in Toronto because he was friends with former Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. In the Jays history, Gibbons is the second manager to come back for a second term. The only other one that managed the Jays more was Cito Gaston and he came back three times. Cito actually replaced Gibbons back in 2008. That same season Cito finished the season with a 51-37 compared to Gibbon’s record of only 35-39. The last four managers the Jays hired have been Gibbons twice and Cito. The Jays love going back to the well when it comes to managers.
John Gibbons isn’t Cito. Current Red Sox and former Jays manager John Farrell has been on the Jays management radar these past few weeks to replace Gibbons but how did that end for the Jays? Let’s not go back to that. John Gibbons did much better in his second stint as manager but you can’t but help feel like the Jays could have done better. I’m not saying so much this and last season, but 2014-16 should have led to glory. In 2014 the Jays were actually contending and heading into July 6 games above 500. while being on top of their division. The second half saw the Jays play a dismal August in which the team couldn’t comeback from as they missed playoffs again. John Gibbons at this point just shrugged it off not showing any concern for his team. He just laid back in his chair while chatting with the media. It made me pissed off seeing him so relaxed with his team’s season going down the drain. I’m not saying go crazy and start cursing like Lou Pinella but c’mon show the fans that you care. The 2014 campaign felt like a lost season.
As I mentioned before, yes the Jays went to back to back divisional championships but look at their roster, especially in 2015. The Jays had three all-stars in Jose Bautista, Russell Martin and that years MVP Josh Donaldson. Also acquiring Troy Tulowitzki and David Price at the trade deadline that year the roster was stacked. Edwin had 39 homers which were third on the club. The Jays rotation was impressive too as four starters won over 10 games and Price had 9 wins, as opposed to 1 loss, with a nice 2.30 ERA in 11 starts in a Jays uniform. The Jays seemed destined to win or at least make the World Series. After being down 2-0 against the Texas Rangers in the wildcard round, the Jays came back and won in 5 games. Thanks in part of the famous bat flip by Jose Bautista in the fifth and deciding game. The Jays lost to the Royals in 6 games in the ALCS. A team that relied on small ball and stealing bases. Gibbons never preached that as the manager. It was always a home run derby when the Jays were playing which was exciting but doesn’t always result in wins. If the Jays weren’t hitting bombs, chances are they weren’t winning. 2015 felt like it was our year and the team fell short. In 2016, the Jays slipped into the wild card spot and beat the Orioles in an entertaining wild card game. Toronto would send the Rangers home for the second straight playoffs with a sweep, but couldn’t handle the Cleveland Indians bullpen which was lights out. Those were two good chances the Jays had to do some damage in the playoffs. It felt the management gave Gibby a good team but he didn’t know what do with it.
Imagine if a Terry Francona or a Joe Girardi managing this team, the Jays could have been World Series Champs! Sure it's my opinion but both managers have proven to be winners in crazy baseball markets. John Gibbons was a mediocre manager that couldn’t win with a good team. We shouldn’t be celebrating that. Gibbons proved in his first go around that he couldn’t hang. His second stint in Toronto was much better but that was Anthopoulos' doing more than Gibbons. Gibbons felt more like a spectator just watching the game like the rest of us. I’m talking about making smart baseball decisions; like bunting and utilizing his runners on base. Gibbon’s rarely did that. He just never felt like a baseball manager. His managing of the bullpen was a question mark at times too. Putting out guys like Aaron Loup, Drew Storen, and Steve Delebar in close games knowing full well they would blow leads and cost the team games. He put too much faith in the wrong guys in his bullpen and mismanaged it.
The last few years seemed to be a waste with Gibby. Once Shapiro and Atkins came into the fold Gibbons looked more useless. If anything Gibby should have been canned after 2016, but management felt the team could still contend. However, we knew Gibbys time with the club was winding down. Gibbon’s was an Anthopoulos guy. Shapiro and Atkins were waiting for the right time to let Gibbons go. With a rebuild in place and new young players coming up to the Jays baseball team, John Gibbons and the Jays finally did the right thing and parted ways. Now management can get the right guy and steer the ship in the right direction.