It is official. After much debate by fans and pundits alike, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos announced that manager John Gibbons would return for the 2014 season. Despite a rough season that fell well below everyone’s expectations, Gibbons apparently did enough to secure his job for at least another season.
The decision was announced by Anthopoulos a contingent of reporters quizzed him on the status of the current Blue Jays manager earlier this afternoon. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was the first to announce the news via Twitter.
Alex Anthopoulos says John Gibbons will return as manager in 2014. #BlueJays
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) August 27, 2013
Just like the announcement of Gibbons hiring this past winter, the news comes as somewhat of a surprise to fans, many of whom have been tweeting #FireGibby over the course of the last few months.
After a winter filled with the high profile acquisitions of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, Mark Buehrle, et al, the expectations for Toronto’s romp to the World Series ran rampant. However a slow start quickly set the tone for the season and as of this writing, the team sits alone in the basement of the American League East with a record of 59-73.
Many of the naysayers quickly point to this failure of epic proportions as proof to why Gibbons was not the right man to lead this team. However, it becomes tough to pin a season of unrealized potential on the manager when there were so many other contributing factors as well.
- The early injury to Jose Reyes.
- The total loss of any ability by Ricky Romero.
- The ball to the head of J.A. Happ.
- The disappearance of Josh Johnson.
- The floating home run pitch of R.A. Dickey.
- The Melkman’s broken wheels.
- The stuck in reverse skills of J.P. Arencibia.
- The completely absurd amount of injuries this team has had to endure.
- Where in the world is Brandon Morrow?
- Who’s on second, because seriously, we’d be better off skipping that spot in the line-up.
However, there have been some bright spots that have shown that Gibbons is not completely inept and quite possibly deserving of a second chance.
He’s done a brilliant job managing a bullpen that has had to pitch more innings than any other in baseball, producing two All-Stars in the process. He’s experimented with line-up placements that have seemed odd at the time, but have helped to bring struggling players out of slumps and gotten offensive production out of a line-up that has been lethargic in some situations. He’s also dealt with all of this with a certain level of decorum which would have frayed a number of other managers.
All and all, Gibby has done just enough to squeeze another year out of this gig. And that’s important, considering the interesting rolling option deal the Blue Jays gave him when they signed Gibbons to return last winter. By getting to the 2014 season, Gibbons essentially guarantees his contract for the 2015 season and new option gets added for 2016.
If he can prove that with a few minor tweaks this team can be better, then this resentment will all go away. If he can’t, then it just becomes another mistake on the same tally as this season and the mistake just compounds and becomes more expensive.
And if we get to that point, the ax will likely fall, and Gibbons won’t likely be the only head to roll.