Aug 7, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Alex Anthopoulos Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager for the Toronto Blue Jays talks to the media before a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Big League Chew: Blue Jays Management Edition

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For this edition of Big League Chew, Ryan (@MuellerRyan11) and I (@JaysFromCouch) thought that there was an interesting debate within the headlines surrounding Alex Anthopoulos’ job apparently safe as well as that of John Gibbons. It would appear that management is secure for the 2015 season. We’re wondering if that is the right decision. So, as usual, we looked at a couple of pieces and based this week’s discussion around those.

 

This piece from Chris Okrainetz at Tip of the Tower suggests that Alex Anthopoulos has actually done quite a good job and it is too early to tell if the work he has done has worked or not.

 

This piece from Robert MacLeod at the Globe and Mail offers almost a bio of John Gibbons that suggests that Gibby knows the reality of his position.

 

Doyle: Firstly, let me just say that I am a Jays fan. Period. So, when I make my comments about Gibby and Anthopoulos, know that it is coming from a fan, not just one of those trolls who love to complain about the Blue Jays. Now, as for AA, I think this past year has shown that he is either so smart that he is turning down a lot of really dumb deals or he is just not able to make any. I mean, he really can’t be that sold on his current roster to think that they will win? Can he? Maybe he is. Maybe he really thinks he’s done a good job building the MLB roster.

 

I would argue that what success he has found with the MLB roster has been luck. Edwin Encarnacion‘s break out absolutely CAN NOT be credited to AA. In fact, AA tried to get rid of EE with no success. So, we know he had nothing to do with the ‘chicken wing’. Similarly, Jose Bautista‘s dominance cannot be pinned on AA. In fact, AA’s MLB track record has been filled with disappointment. R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes have all been different degrees of “meh”. Let’s be honest, in their careers, they’ve been quality players, but by adding them, the Blue Jays have not been heavily impacted. One could argue Melky Cabrera was a shrewd deal by AA, but it only looks that way this year. It didn’t last year. And, if he re-signs The Melkman, will it look so good next year? I’m not convinced AA knows how to build a winning MLB roster.

As for John Gibbons, my opinion is simple. He is doing a good job. The only thing I would say that he needs to do better is convince his players to play hard. All the time. Not just when times are good. Playing hard all the time is something that seems to be missing. Just because certain players are supposed to be stars, doesn’t mean they get to be lazy when fielding a ground ball. They don’t get to jog when they think they are going to be thrown out at first. All hustle, all the time. For some reason, Gibby has not been able to get that across. Maybe some stars need to be benched. But, you can’t start that at the end of August.
Casey Janssen says Gibby gives a long leash then yanks it back. I think the leash is too long. Now, I do not think he should be fired. My friends were telling me yesterday that he should be. Firstly, I said his (clever) contract won’t allow it to be done in a traditional manner. He can’t be fired mid season. Their response was “Well, then who ever signed him to that contract should be fired.” I laughed. But, then I asked them why he should be fired. There were crickets. The team is losing they offered. If that is the only argument, there is no argument. I fail to see how the team’s record is Gibby’s fault. Like he said in the Globe and Mail piece: “Baseball’s not rocket science…It’s not like football, where Xs and Os are everything. Baseball, basically everybody does the same thing. They just choose when they’re going to do it. It’s really pretty much a simple game.” The manager does pretty much the same stuff everywhere. He works with what he is given from the GM. 
Mueller: So Shaun, that was quit the rant…you feel better? Got that off your chest? Like you, I am a fan of both Alex and John. I admit to being a homer; however, this team was not really good enough to win the World Series…May was an outlier from the norm. I was hopeful of contending for a wild card spot and that’s what has happened. Combine that success with the development of Drew Hutchison, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and to a lesser degree Anthony Gose (hey, he can lay down a bunt) and I think this has been a successful season.
The question this article raises for me is: “Are Alex and Gibby the right men for the job and if not ‎who is?” I view the deals that Alex has made over the years as positives. With the exception of the Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco deal, Alex hasn’t really screwed himself. Don’t start with Travis D’aruad, Noah Syndgaard, Henderson Alverez crap. With the ex‎ception of Alverez, the rest of these guys haven’t done Bo Diddly…yet. “Yet” is the key here. If the Jays wanted to be competitive the Marlins trade needed to be made; as well as the Dickey trade. Did Alex over pay…I think so, but as I already stated, none of these guys have made me regret losing them.
Which brings me to Gibby. Gibby is not the problem. The players, not the talent, are the problem. This team doesn’t have the heart or hustle to win. Most of these guys have always been on last place teams and just don’t do what it takes to win. This is not Gibby’s fault or Alex’s…this falls on the players.

SD: Ok, don’t even give me the development of Gose as an argument for anything. Are you kidding? But, more to the point. Are Gibby and AA right for ther respective jobs? I’ll start with AA. I can’t believe you think the Dickey trade HAD TO be made. How’s that working out? Are you telling me we couldn’t have found someone to go .500 without giving up Syndergaard? I will give you that AA has done a great job stocking the system. He’s shrewdly manipulated rules to build up the farm system.  But, that’s it. Even if that is a good idea, do you think that he has built 25 guys who will come up and win the division at the same time. He HAS to go outside of the organization to win.

He hasn’t shown he can do that. I read once (wish I could find it again) someone said AA is a collector of players; he has no clue how to build a winning team. Thus far, he collected names but it has been a bust. He has not shown he knows how to huild a winner. He failed to improve his team when it mattered; when they were contending. Now look. So, I would suggest that if Toronto wants a winner, maybe AA has to change his tactics. And, ownership needs to let him.

 Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As for Gibby….I really like him. I don’t see that any of the disappointment is his fault. Some of the players are rich boys who’ve fallen into the “stardom” trap and play like baseball is secondary. That is the only thing Gibby has done wrong. He needs a tighter reign. I like how Matt Williams and Ryne Sandberg have laid down the law. Players hate it, but you have to ask “why do you hate it?” Is it because you need the smack laid down on you?

RM: Shaun, you make some good points about Alex’s inability to pick up the final piece(s) to truly make this team a contender. That is the difference between a good GM and a World Series GM. The Jays would have been better off signing low level pitchers than trading for Dickey. I am in agreement with you on this one.  But, I am still not ready to let Alex go just yet.

I have felt for years that the Jays needed to change the way they won games. I thought that Gibby was that guy, but I am starting to lose faith. This team doesn’t run enough and they still swing for the fences….all the time. I was hopeful that Gibby and Kevin Sietzer would have guys go to the plate with the idea of moving base runners along instead of trying to drive them in all at once. I hate to say it but Gibby may need to go.
SD: Maybe that’s just it. The Jays need players to do things they don’t do. Even if Gibby and/or Seitzer ask/tell them to, if it is not their game, you can’t expect them to. AA has put together a collection of players who are fairly one dimensional, thus building a one dimensional team.
RM: That brings me to my final word. I think it is time for a youth movement. This team will not win this year or next. Trading Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion should be the first step. Alex has done a great job signing his own free-agents to very friendly contracts. With two years remaining on Jose’s contract, Alex should be able to name his price. It is time to turn the page on this team and this coaching staff.
SD:  I agree with you. Maybe. EE and JB should net a nice return. But, a change in philosophy is needed first. If the team’s identity (home run first) is the same, it doesn’t matter who they get. If AA is truly interested in building a winner, he needs to change that philosophy.
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